The Checkers welcomed the division-leading Hartford Wolf Pack to town Tuesday night and preceded to steamroll them en route to a 6-3 victory.

A Hartford power-play strike put the Checkers down early on, but the tide turned quickly as the Charlotte offense sprung to life. Colin Markison and Julien Gauthier both redirected point shots to push the home side back on top before the first intermission, then they jumped on the reeling Wolf Pack to start the second. Spencer Smallman finished off a pretty passing play 61 seconds in for his first AHL goal, Max McCormick found the back of the net 20 seconds later and then Fredrik Claesson picked up his third point of the night with a tally five minutes later to chase the AHL’s top-ranked netminder and run the advantage to 5-1.

The Wolf Pack made things interesting in the third with a pair of strikes to pull within two, but Gauthier put home an empty-net dagger to secure the 6-3 win.

The Checkers stifled the Wolf Pack offense – especially early on – but Alex Nedeljkovic came up big when called upon, stopping 19 of the 22 shots he faced.

QUOTES

Coach Ryan Warsofsky on the team’s performance
Our start was really good. We were holding on to pucks, we were skating and we were moving. We got some traffic in front of a really good goaltender and we finally got some puck luck there in the second. A good start, and then we came at them in waves there in the second and capitalized.

Warsofky on scoring five straight goals
Having that killer instinct is something we talked about these last couple of days. Making sure we come at them and come at them and come at them. We did a good job of that.

Warsofsky on players like Smallman and Claesson contributing offensively
It’s huge. It’s really important that we get secondary scoring. Smallman, I thought it was his best game of the year and you can tell the rust is coming off. He looked really good. Same with Freddie, he was kind of back to himself and his puck skills were better. The points aren’t his bread and butter. His bread and butter is moving pucks and being hard to defend, and he did a good job of that tonight.

Warsofky on Hartford making it interesting with two third-period goals
They’re a skilled hockey team. We had a couple of missed assigments. Those are things that a team like that will capitalize on, so we have to make sure we clean those up for tomorrow. Ned made some outstanding saves or it could be a closer game.

Fredrik Claesson on scoring three points
I feel like I’ve been kind of chasing it the whole season. I know I can put up some points and help offensively, but my game is defensive. Some nights you have it and some nights you don’t, and tonight I had it so that’s nice.

Julien Gauthier on getting the win against Hartford
We expected a really good team so we just came really strong right from the start and it’s fun to see it pay off. We’ve had some struggles this year with winning games so it’s fun to actually see some results tonight.

Gauthier on shaking off the early goal against to score five unanswered
It’s awesome. It felt like last year. Like I said, we’ve struggled this season but we’re getting better every day and that’s the key. They were a good challenge for us and we did good.

NOTES

The Checkers won for the fourth time in their last six outings … Claesson’s three points were a new career high. He entered the game with four points in his first 20 games … Before allowing five tonight, Hartford goalie Igor Shesterkin had allowed six total goals in his last five appearances (4-0-1). He entered the game with a league-leading 1.81 goals-against average … Six goals is the second-most scored by the Checkers this season … Smallman’s first career AHL goal came in his 27th game … Gauthier has five goals in his last four AHL games. He is now tied for 10th in the league in goals with 12 on the season ... Team scoring leader Jake Bean had an assist to give him four points in his last three games and eight in his last eight … Janne Kuokkanen’s assist gave him six points in his last three … Dave Gust’s assist extended his point streak to three games … Oliwer Kaski had an assist and was plus-2 in his Checkers debut … The Checkers power play scored for the fourth straight game, while the PK allowed a goal for the fourth straight … Morgan Geekie left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return … Forwards Terry Broadhurst, Kerby Rychel and Stelio Mattheos missed the game due to injury … Forward Jacob Pritchard and defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald were healthy extras.
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.