T.J. Hensick opened the scoring and former captain Brett Sutter scored the winning goal with just 33 seconds left in regulation as Charlotte fell to 0-3-0 on the first half of its six-game journey through California. Kris Newbury and Levko Koper had scored their first goals as Checkers to erase a 2-0 deficit prior to Sutter’s dagger.
Charlotte, which is on the longest road winless streak posted by any AHL team this season, is now just one game away from tying the franchise record set in 2014-15. The team, which returns to action Wednesday at Stockton, has gone 0-6-1 on the road since Nov. 11.
With Hensick’s tally to trigger the toss coming with 5:15 left in the first period, officials elected to start the intermission early and add the time on to what became an elongated middle frame. Oddly enough, it was Hensick’s second Teddy Toss goal in as many seasons as the veteran forward scored the Checkers’ version last year.
After the Reign’s Jonny Brodzinski intercepted an attempted pass between Checkers defensemen and went the length of the ice for a breakaway goal against Charlotte’s Alex Nedeljkovic, the visitors struck back to tie it, first on Newbury’s rebound goal on the doorstep and then on Koper’s intended centering feed from the corner that snuck by Ontario netminder Jack Campbell.
Newbury’s goal was part of the night’s trend, as the veteran forward and recent professional tryout signing spent last season with the Reign. It came in his 791st career AHL game, which is the most of any active AHL player, while Koper’s first AHL tally came in just his fifth career outing.
Overtime never seemed a sure thing with each side pressing down the stretch in the third, but it wasn’t until the waning moments that Sutter collected a loose puck in front and placed a well-placed shot through a mass of confusion in front of goal to bury his former squad. Sutter, who spent parts of four seasons with Charlotte from 2010-14 and was its captain for most of that time, still ranks fourth on the organization’s all-time list with 142 points in 255 career games.
With the loss, the Checkers fell to 3-9-1 on the road this season, with their nine losses marking the most of any AHL team. Meanwhile, they are 6-2-0 at Bojangles’ Coliseum, where they next play on Dec. 13.