The Checkers are heading into the holidays on a high note after pulling off a 4-2 victory over Lehigh Valley.

The visiting Phantoms got on the board first, but a second-period surge pulled things back in Charlotte’s favor. Gustav Forsling clapped a point shot home to tie the game, then Roland McKeown joined the rush and sniped a shorthanded goal to give the Checkers a lead heading into the final frame.

That third period wouldn’t be without drama, as Greg Carey pushed his way through traffic and knotted the score before the midway point. But the Charlotte blue line continued to pitch in offensively, as Chase Priskie launched a shot that found the back of the net and regained the lead for the home side.

The Checkers would weather one final push from the Phantoms as Anton Forsberg stood tall in his 26-save performance, and a strong individual effort from Steven Lorentz into the empty-net sealed the deal for Charlotte.

QUOTES

Coach Ryan Warsofsky on the win
We gutted one out there. Our backs were against the wall there early in the first period and we found a way to play the right way into the second and the third and got rewarded with some goals. It was just a gutty effort late in the third period.

Warfosky on defensemen stepping up offensively with six forwards out of the lineup
It’s important. I thought Forsling was really, really good tonight and last night too. He’s probably playing his best hockey right now, and Freddie Claussen same thing. He really stepped up. Fitzgerald and Sheppard playing fourth-line forward isn’t easy at this level and they’ve done a good job of helping us out there.

Warsofsky on heading into the holiday break with a win
It’s something that we talked about a lot this morning. We can end this home stand on a really good high note going 4-2 and above .500 now and go into the break with a reset to get our heads away from the game a little bit and spend some time with family. It’s super important when you don’t see them very often to see your family and enjoy life away from the game. It is a grind, and we’ve been grinding here for a hard three months.

Roland McKeown on the win
It was awesome. The last 10-12 games we were trending all upward and then I thought we came off the gas yesterday. To get back on it today before the Christmas break and establish the identity we’re always seeking for I thought was really good. There’s a lot of accountability and a lot of guys, including myself, weren’t happy with the game yesterday, so you’ve got to put it on yourself to perform and I thought we did a better job of that today.

McKeown on players playing out of position
I thought Fitzy and Shep and Lacroix were all over the puck tonight and playing heavy in the offensive zone, and that’s great. Guys know their roles and that’s the key to winning. Everyone has a role on the team, and I give those guys huge props because it’s not easy to switch positions at this high of a level.

McKeown on the break
It’s nice. Obviously it’s good to get time away because you only get one off day a week or so with the schedule. It’s going to be really nice just to chat with family and relax and have that time away.

NOTES

The Checkers enter the holiday break with five wins in their last seven games … This was the fifth time in the last six seasons that the Checkers played their last game before the holiday break at home. They won all five … Starting with the Checkers’ last goal vs. Hartford on Dec. 18 and going through tonight’s first goal (three games), Forsling recorded a point on four consecutive Checkers goals (2g, 2a) … Spencer Smallman extended his career-long point streak to four games (1g, 3a) … In addition to having the AHL’s No. 1 penalty killing unit at 89.8 percent, the Checkers are tied for sixth in the league with six shorthanded goals … Of McKeown’s three goals on the season, two have come in his last three games. This was his second career shorthanded goal … Priskie has seven points (2g, 5a) in his last seven games … The Checkers improved to 2-3-1 in their season series against Lehigh Valley. They are now two points ahead of the Phantoms in the standings … Forwards Terry Broadhurst, Morgan Geekie, Colin Markison, Stelio Mattheos and Kerby Rychel missed the game due to injury … Forward Julien Gauthier missed out due to injury.
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.