The Charlotte Checkers split their two-game set against the San Antonio Rampage, losing the first game on Tuesday by a score of 2-0 and redeeming themselves on Wednesday with a 2-1 win. It was a tale of two teams for the Checkers as they put in a lackluster effort in game one of the set and redeemed themselves, coming out like gangbusters in game two. The two points picked up from the win Wednesday extends Charlotte’s lead over second place Milwaukee in the Midwest Division to four points, however the Admirals still have five games in hand on the Checkers.
Rampage 2, Checkers 0
On Tuesday, the Checkers were shutout for the third time this season, ending a five-game point streak where they had gone 4-0-1. It was an extremely rough start to the game for the home team as they entered the first intermission being outshot 18-10 and down 1-0 on a powerplay goal by Greg Rallo with just 19 seconds remaining.
Charlotte thought they had scored the first goal of the game midway through that first frame as Bobby Sanguinetti beat goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris. Unfortunately the goal was waved off when the referee deemed that San Antonio had touched the puck on a delayed call just prior to Sanguinetti releasing the shot. Had that goal counted, the momentum may have swung the Checkers’ way. Instead they were unable to solve Grumet-Morris for the remainder of the game as he made 33 saves en route to his second shutout of the season.
Mark Cullen, reassigned from the Florida Panthers just prior to the game, iced the win for the Rampage with his goal in the third period. Mark is the younger brother of former Carolina Hurricane, Matt Cullen.
The loss ended a five-game point streak for Jerome Samson (4G, 1A) and a three-game point streak for Zach Boychuk (1G, 3A). Goaltender Mike Murphy, making his seventh consecutive start, played another solid game making 30 saves on the night.
Box Score: here
Checkers 2, Rampage 1
Wednesday, the Checkers exacted their revenge as they came out on fire, sending 47 shots on Grumet-Morris and taking the 2-1 victory.
Jerome Samson, playing every bit like the All-Star he was named today, opened up the scoring for the Checkers at 16:34 of the first, beating Grumet-Morris five-hole. Riley Nash picked up the assist on Samson’s goal and then added one of his own just over 2 minutes into the third period, tipping in a Michal Jordan shot from the point on a powerplay. Derek Joslin, assigned from the Hurricanes today on a conditioning stint, nabbed the secondary assist on Nash’s goal to give him a point in his Checkers debut.
The star of the game, however, was Charlotte’s rookie goaltender John Muse, making his first start with the Checkers. His only previous playing time in Charlotte came on 16-Dec-2011 when he stopped all 24 shots he faced in relief of an injured Mike Murphy. Tonight Muse made 42 saves, several high quality, and came only 61 seconds away from his first professional shutout when David Marshall spoiled his bid. His tremendous effort in the net earned him first start honours on the night.
Box Score: here
The Checkers head back on the road this weekend for games against division rivals Milwaukee and Chicago. These will be huge games for our boys in red with the race in the Midwest Division so tight.