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Marlies Hand Checkers Another Loss

Charlotte Checkers at Toronto Marlies
The Checkers hung tough in one of their more hard-fought games of the season, but still can’t seem to locate the result they desperately need.

Former Carolina Hurricane Troy Bodie scored the winning goal on a tip from John-Michael Liles’ shot from the point with just over six minutes remaining as the Checkers fell 3-2 in Toronto on Tuesday, extending their franchise-record losing streak to seven consecutive games. Rasmus Rissanen and Brett Sutter scored for Charlotte, which now returns home for a back-to-back set against the Rockford IceHogs starting Saturday.

Making his third consecutive start, John Muse made 27 saves as the Marlies out-shot the Checkers by a 30-17 margin, limiting the visitors to just seven total shots over the final two periods.

With the Checkers an admittedly fragile team as they struggle through what has been a winless month of November, the Marlies did everything they could to intimidate them in a rough-and-tumble second period that featured 13 penalties, including two fights. Those scraps involved Charlotte’s Nicolas Blanchard, who took on Brad Staubitz after Staubitz delivered a bit hit on Danny Biega, and rookie Keegan Lowe, who underwent a long tussle with Sam Carrick.

Charlotte Checkers at Toronto MarliesScore Sheet
Carrick had earlier knocked Checkers captain Brett Sutter out of the game, albeit temporarily, with a high open-ice hit while Charlotte was on the power play. Along with Staubitz’s hit on Biega, it was one of several punishing hits that Toronto skaters delivered during the middle frame, with Petter Granberg’s board of Sean Dolan the one to result in a penalty. Though Dolan was able to return for his next shift, Biega had to leave the game after becoming bloodied from a high hit from Tyler Biggs in the final minute.

Despite all of that, each Checkers player that became a victim of those hits was able to return for the third period, including Sutter, who tied the game at 2-2 on an innocent-looking shot that may have missed the net had Marlies goalie Drew MacIntyre not reached out with his blocker, a move that backfired when the puck ricocheted into his net.

From there, Toronto began to apply the bulk of the pressure, coming up empty despite a power play spent almost entirely in the Charlotte zone that featured a string of good saves by Muse before Liles, an NHL veteran who rejoined the Marlies last week, blasted one from the top of the circles that hit Bodie on its way in.

The Checkers received one final chance on an offensive-zone faceoff during a 6-on-4 situation with Muse pulled for the extra attacker and Jerry D’Amigo in the box for slashing, but a faceoff loss by Brett Sutter ended their hopes for a comeback.

Earlier in the game, Rissanen had opened the scoring with his fourth goal in 140 AHL games and first since April 10, 2012, on a shot from the point that beat MacIntyre through traffic. It marked the first even-strength goal the Checkers had scored in their last three games and also the first time the team had enjoyed a lead of any kind during that time.

The lead would only last three-and-a-half minutes, however, with forward Brad Ross scoring on a rebound to tie the game. Josh Leivo, who scored his first NHL goal against the Hurricanes while playing for the parent Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 17, then gave the Marlies the lead on an excellent shot from the left circle that beat Muse over the left shoulder early in the second period.

Thursday’s game, along with a 4-1 Checkers loss on Saturday, marked the first-ever meetings between the two clubs. They will face each other two more times on Dec. 20 and 21, marking the end of Charlotte’s 10-game home stand.

NOTES

Charlotte’s losing streak remains the longest by any AHL team this season … In the last three AHL seasons, there have only been four losing streaks of seven or more games, including Charlotte’s current run … Charlotte’s 17 shots were its fewest of the season, while its three shots in the third period tied a season low … Elias Lindholm’s three-game point streak game to an end, as did Zach Boychuk’s two-game goal streak … Rissanen and Sutter’s goals were their first goals of the season … All-Star Checkers defenseman Michal Jordan missed the game due to an injury suffered in a Saturday game at Toronto, with the Marlies’ Jamie Devane serving a one-game suspension as a result of the incident … Forward Matt Marquardt was a healthy extra.
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.