After roaring back from a two-goal deficit, the Checkers came away empty-handed as a late Phantoms goal sealed a 3-2 defeat in Lehigh Valley on Wednesday.
Casey Bailey and Hunter Shinkaruk each had a goal and an assist for the Checkers, who lost their second straight game after opening their five-game road trip with a win last week. They now remain in Lehigh Valley for a rematch with the Phantoms on Friday.
The Checkers, who have now gone scoreless in six consecutive first periods, continued to be frustrated in the goal-scoring department as they fell behind 2-0 to the Phantoms in the second period of this contest.
However, Bailey, who now has three points in three games since signing a professional tryout contract with the Checkers, changed the momentum of the game with 45 seconds left in the middle frame when he was able to capitalize on a play that saw Steven Lorentz intercept Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon’s attempt to the play the puck to a defender behind his net.
Shinkaruk kept that momentum going in the third, cutting to the net to score a highlight-reel goal at the 4:09 mark. Charlotte, which out-shot the Phantoms 33-22 for the game, continued to apply pressure after that but ultimately fell behind for good when Lehigh’s Gerry Fitzgerald scored his first of the season on a rebound attempt with just 2:40 to play.
The result ended the Phantoms’ four-game winless streak (0-3-1) while simultaneously extending their home point streak to eight games (5-0-3).
Shinkaruk and Bailey each enjoyed their first multi-point games of the AHL season … Chase Priskie ended a seven-game point drought with an assist on Shinkaruk’s goal … Prior to going scoreless in their last six first periods, the Checkers had started the season with first-period goals in eight of their first nine games … The Checkers’ AHL-best penalty killing unit nullified all three Lehigh power plays … Forward Janne Kuokkanen missed the game due to illness … Forward Stelio Mattheos missed the game due to injury … Forward Cedric Lacroix and defensemen Cavan Fitzgerald and Derek Sheppard were healthy extras.
The Checkers wrap up their five-game trip with Friday's rematch with the Phantoms and their first game against former coach Mike Vellucci in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.