The Charlotte Checkers fell the Providence Bruins on the team's annual Teddy Bear Toss game
Charlotte’s defensive side took center stage in the team’s rematch against the Providence Bruins, but it wasn’t quite enough to eke out two points as the Checkers fell in a shootout 2-1.

With Alex Nedeljkovic unable to suit up due to sickness and radio broadcaster Jason Shaya serving as an emergency backup, Jeremy Smith got the start and delivered a stellar performance. The veteran netminder was peppered with 41 shots from a potent Providence offense that entered the game frustrated from an 8-2 loss the night before and turned aside 40 of them across 65 minutes of play.

The Checkers were able to open the scoring thanks to a quick shot from out front by Nicolas Roy that triggered the annual Teddy Bear Toss, with 1,200 teddy bears littering the ice on their way to being donated. That advantage was erased shortly after, however, and neither side would be able to produce anything else through the remainder of regulation.

After a scoreless overtime period that saw the Bruins control much of the possession and fail to beat Smith, the contest progressed on to a shootout, Charlotte’s first of the season. Each netminder denied the first three attempts they faced then surrendered a goal on the fourth shooter. With the shootout in sudden death, Bruins netminder Jordan Binnington stopped Warren Foegele to set up Ryan Fitzgerald’s winner and send Providence home with two points.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on the team’s start
I thought they took advantage of us early on. I thought we were really slow and that they out-skated us pretty hard in the first. We played a little bit better obviously in the second and third.

Vellucci on the Checkers’ first overtime game of the season
We’ve got to learn to win those tight games. This was the first overtime game in 21 games for us and we just played 12 games in 23 days. It’s a lot of hockey so I was proud of the way they grinded it out. We got one point. Would you like to get another in the shootout? Yeah, but that’s the way it happens sometimes in the shootout.

Vellucci on goaltender Jeremy Smith
I thought he was awesome. He got us the point. We didn’t start out on time but he held us in there and then we got going.

Smith on his game today
I felt really good today. It’s just about staying focused. There’s going to be breakdowns, but the more that I can manage it the better. When they get caught out there for a while, you try to do your best to either freeze it our get us out of play.

Smith on overtime
That was our first overtime, I don’t know if you could tell. We had a good chance out there towards the end of overtime, but it would have been nice to get a win.

Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya on serving as the emergency backup goalie
I was skating with the injured guys this morning and then coach walked out there and said Ned wasn’t going to make it most likely and that he wanted me to back up the game. I said my concern was obviously the broadcast because I’m a broadcaster, but once we got that figured out and situated I said I’d do it.

Shaya on how he handled the job
The big thing for me is to stay out of the way. I don’t want to be a distraction for anyone and for anyone to change what they do. Typically I’m out of the way completely, and that’s really the goal. I want the guys to just do their thing as if I’m not there, and I think I made myself almost completely invisible today.

NOTES

The Checkers collected 1,200 stuffed animals for charity as part of the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss promotion … Nicolas Roy’s goal that triggered the toss ended a six-game streak in which the Checkers allowed the game’s first goal … Roy’s goal gave him five points (1g, 4a) in his last four games … Roy’s goal was also the Checkers’ fifth shorthanded goal of the year, which ranks second in the AHL. Warren Foegele assisted on the goal, tying him for the league high with four shorthanded points on the season (3g, 1a) … This was the Checkers’ first overtime game. Coming into today, they were the only AHL team that had yet to go to overtime … Smith’s 40 saves were a season high and the most by a Checkers goalie this season … Forwards Clark Bishop and Lucas Wallmark and defenseman Jake Chelios missed the game due to injury … Forward Valentin Zykov and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic missed the game due to illness … Defensemen Tyler Ganly and Josh Wesley were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The Checkers’ home stand continues Friday when they host the Springfield Thunderbirds for a 7:15 p.m. puck drop.
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.