Checkers Teddy Bear Toss
In front of a raucous crowd on Teddy Bear Toss night, the Checkers battled back to take down Hartford and keep their winning streak rolling.

After falling behind less than a minute into play, Martin Necas swooped across the crease and beat the Hartford netminder to tie the score and trigger the Teddy Bear Toss, with the cascading stuffed animals being collected for several local charities.

Hartford responded early in the second but the Checkers’ come-from-behind ways emerged once again as Saku Maenalanen punched home a loose puck out front minutes later to draw the score even again. Nicolas Roy capped off the comeback in the final frame, redirecting an Andrew Poturalski feed on the man advantage.

The Wolf Pack would push hard down the stretch but the Checkers would clamp down, led by a strong 27-save performance from Alex Nedeljkovic, who notched his league-leading 14th win of the season.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on the game’s physicality
I love it. I think it was great. It showed that our guys care, that they stick up for each other and they respond the right way. You have to learn to win those hockey games when you’re emotional and you’re into it. You’ve got to keep your emotions in check without taking bad penalties but also push back when they’re pushing on you.

Vellucci on the game
I didn’t love our first period. They took it to us and Ned held us in there and made some big saves. Once we got it going we started playing much better, but we’ve still got a lot to clean up before we play at 1 o’clock tomorrow. We had way too many turnovers. You’ve got to be stronger and smarter with the puck.

Nicolas Roy on the game
I think it was a really hard game for both sides. Two really good teams going at it and it was pretty intense. We came out with the win, so it was pretty good.

Alex Nedeljkovic on the physical play
Just keep battling and try to move past it. Whatever happens happens, and then you’ve got to be ready for the next shot. If you’re worried about somebody coming to run you or the physicality going on in front of you, you’re doing yourself no favors. Your job is to stop the puck.

Nedeljkovic on winning close games
These tight games are a lot more fun to play in. The ones where you’re up by four or five goals, guys are having fun, but this is where you really learn how to win. We did a good job of sticking with it all night. We were down twice, stuck with it, came back, grinded it out. That’s a good win.

Nedeljkovic on how his attempt to score his third career goal that narrowly missed in the final seconds felt coming off his stick It felt great. They all feel great until I see where they’re going. Hopefully one of these days I can feel even better about one of them.

NOTES

Fans tossed an estimated 2,000 stuffed animals that the Checkers will now donate to local children in need this holiday season … The Checkers’ five-game win streak ties their longest of the season, set twice previously. Their last streak longer than that was a seven-game run to end last season … Necas is now tied for fourth among AHL rookie scorers with 21 points in 24 games … Maenalanen’s goal was his first since Nov. 10, a span of 13 games … The Checkers improved to 3-1-0 against Hartford this season, with all four games taking place in December. They will still play four more times … Defenseman Josiah Didier missed the game due to injury … Forward Zack Stortini and defenseman Josh Wesley were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The team's home stand continues with an afternoon contest against the Utica Comets tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.