It took a little more than 60 minutes, but the Checkers kept their winning ways going at home by toppling the Moose 3-2 in overtime.
A roller coaster second period that saw the Checkers battle back twice to even the game would be the only scoring to be found in regulation, forcing overtime. The home team wasted no time in the extra frame, however, as Phil Di Giuseppe overpowered a Moose defender to create a two-on-one rush for Charlotte before sniping a laser that blew past the netminder and clinched two points in the standings for the Checkers.
It was the second goal of the game for Di Giuseppe, who also got the Checkers on the board in the second period.
“That guy reached in on me at their blue line but I got around him – I think he might have lost his footing,” said Di Giuseppe. “We had a wide two-on-one and I kind of wanted to pass to Potsy early just to move the goalie and open their D up, but I couldn’t get the puck to sit. I saw their guy coming in on the backcheck so I thought, ‘Just shoot it.’”
The Checkers looked sharp to start the game, flying around the ice in a dominant first period but failing to put anything in the back of the net before the Moose opened the scoring early in the second.
Despite the frustrating results, the Checkers kept their cool and continued to pour on the pressure.
It didn’t come until halfway through regulation, but the Checkers were finally able to convert one of their chances when Di Giuseppe collected a slick feed from Andrew Miller on the rush and buried one five hole on Moose netminder Eric Comrie.
The Moose quickly reestablished their advantage, but the Checkers weren’t done, as Andrew Poturalski hammered home a one-timer on a late man advantage to even the score with less than a minute to go in the middle frame.
All in all, the Checkers’ top line of Di Giuseppe, Poturalski and Miller played a part in every goal tonight. That high-end scoring proved to be a big boost that the team had been missing over the last few weeks.
“They’ve been frustrated,” said Samuelsson. “They’ve had chances, but they haven’t had any luck. A lot of times with goal scorers, they come in bunches. Hopefully they’ll get quite a few right now.”
The addition of Di Giuseppe to that group seems to have sparked them a bit, as their performance tonight rivaled any the team has seen this season.
“Phil brings a lot of speed to the line and that opens things up for me and Miller,” said Poturalski. “I think we were really good today at moving the puck and being really hard on guys in the offensive zone. We played with pace. I think last night we played really well too and had a lot of chances and didn’t get any results, but tonight it seemed to work out for us. Hopefully we can keep that going.”
“We’re playing well together,” said Di Giuseppe. “We were finding each other on the ice and limiting our turnovers. When we had the puck we were patient and we found each other.”
In his first year as a pro, Poturalski spent the last few weeks sitting atop the team’s scoring lead, but has seen his production fluctuate up and down a bit. Tonight’s two-point effort was certainly a step in the right direction for the young forward.
“It’s a long season and you’re not going to score every night in this league, but tonight was definitely huge to get some confidence back,” said Poturalski. Hopefully things keep rolling coming down the stretch.”
Returning back to Bojangles’ Coliseum after a long trek through California that saw them take a hard fall down the standings, the Checkers continued to be a formidable force on home ice, coming away with a much-needed four points during this two-game set.
“We had a really tough road trip with no results at all whatsoever, but we played hard,” said Samuelsson. “A lot of times it’s easy to let your guard down at home, but I’ve got to give credit to our team because they’ve played two hard home games here.”
“It’s huge for our team,” said Poturalski. “Our morale in the locker room right now is great and guys are starting to get pumped up again. To get through stretches like that is tough because wins aren’t easy in this league, so to get a sweep here is going to be huge for us.”