Charlotte Checkers vs. San Antonio Rampage
Any loss this time of year is tough, but the nature of the Checkers’ recent defeats would sting no matter where they fell over the course of a long season.

With the Checkers slowly inching back from a two-goal deficit against the San Antonio Rampage, Michal Jordan’s shot on the power play rang loudly off the crossbar with five minutes remaining in regulation. A goal by the visitors minutes later would seal a 4-2 defeat, handing the Checkers their third loss in four games – all off which could have gone either way until late in the third period.

Jordan and Victor Rask scored earlier goals for the Checkers, who got 26 saves from Mike Murphy. Despite the loss, the Checkers remain three points out of a playoff spot with eighth-place Rochester also suffering a loss on Sunday.

Charlotte Checkers vs. San Antonio RampageScore SheetPhoto GalleryPostgame Quotes
Though there were moments within this game where the Checkers could have done better (captain Brett Sutter felt they let San Antonio dictate the pace of the game’s first half), the near-misses in a late charge will stand out most. The home team regained some momentum on Rask’s goal early in the third to make it 3-2, but a few hit posts and one bizarre play in which the net fell over frontwards as a shot sailed toward it prevented them from getting more.

“If you look at the second half of the game I think we had four or five hit posts and a few shot tips that just missed,” said Sutter. “We had our chances. They just didn’t go our way tonight.”

It looked as though the power play would come through much in the same way as it did in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Rampage, in which Chris Terry, who extended his point streak to seven games with a pair of assists, scored with approximately the same amount of time left on the clock. The Checkers clearly smelled blood when Rampage forward Jed Ortmeyer lost a stick, but Jordan’s post would be as close as they came.

“We did everything but score on that power play,” said coach Jeff Daniels, whose team went 1-for-6 on the day. “We were in the zone for pretty close to two minutes and had a lot of great looks. They did a great job of tying some sticks up just when you think you’re going to tap one in. It could have been the difference in the game.”

“There were a couple of bounces that could have gone either way,” said Jordan, who has scored 10 of his 21 points on the season during the month of March. “That last post would have turned the game around.”

The loss ended Charlotte’s five-game winning streak against San Antonio, who they face once more on April 4. Friday’s win had gotten them to within two points of a postseason berth, with a Saturday win by Rockford widening the gap once again.

“This time of year they all sting when you lose a game just based on where we’re at,” said Daniels. “We’re trying to catch teams, and when you lose games you’re not catching them.”

Despite losing for the seventh time in his last eight games, Murphy was solid once again. He has received five total goals of support in his last four starts, all losses. Meanwhile, John Muse, who sat this game out due to an injury that Daniels graded as day-to-day, has gone 6-1-0 while receiving at least three goals of support in each of his last seven.

“He played unbelievable in the last couple of games and gave us a chance to win,” said Jordan. “Those losses are tough for us and even tougher for him.”

Jordan’s goal came on the power play early in the second period, a blast from the point that tied the game at 1-1. It canceled out an earlier goal by Rampage scoring leader Bobby Butler, who had a hand in all of San Antonio’s goals in this match-up (2g, 2a).

Michal Jordan
Butler was wide open on his goals, a first-period breakaway and the finish of his own rebound three minutes after Jordan scored. He also had the primary helper on Ortmeyer’s winner and the secondary assist on the Rampage’s fourth, in which Wade Megan finished a chance off the rush.

“He’s proven at this level that he can score goals,” said Daniels of Butler, who also scored twice against the Checkers on March 7. “We saw him three or four years ago in the playoffs with Binghamton what he’s capable of.”

The Checkers have 11 games remaining to try to make up the necessary ground in the playoff race, however much that might end up being at the end of the day. The depart Monday for a two-game set against the Iowa Wild, who now rank 15th in the Western Conference with San Antonio using these two points to jump ahead, before beginning what will surely be a grueling five game stretch in which they face the Oklahoma City Barons, another team knocking on the door of the top eight, four times.

“We need to make sure we get our heads right and get some big points on the road,” said Sutter. “We’re right there. It’s going to be a dogfight and these next few games really matter.”


Including a five-on-three disadvantage that lasted 19 seconds in the first period, the Checkers went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. They have killed 26 of 27 since March 12 … Though his career-long goal streak ended at five games, Terry’s point streak is his longest since he opened the season with points in each of his first nine … Sutter’s six-game point streak that tied the longest of his career came to an end … The Checkers, now 16-17-1 at Time Warner Cable Arena, missed a chance to go over .500 at home for the first time all season … With Muse injured, the Checkers used Trevor Cann, signed to a professional tryout contract from the ECHL’s Florida Everblades earlier in the day, as backup. Forward Matthew Pistilli, also signed from Florida that morning, joined defenseman Dennis Robertson as a healthy extra … Forwards Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods missed the game due to injury.

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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.

May 2018
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