The first 40 minutes belonged to the netminders, with Alex Nedeljkovic and Christopher Gibson going save-for-save to keep the score knotted at zero. It wasn’t until the Checkers earned themselves a two-man advantage near the midway point of the third that the offense broke through, first with Nicolas Roy pounding home a loose puck out front and then less than 30 seconds later when Morgan Geekie threw a wrister past Gibson to double the Charlotte lead.
Bridgeport would finally find the back of the net late in the third but Nedeljkovic’s 27-save performance was enough to secure a crucial victory over their division rivals.
I thought it was very good. I thought the guys competed extremely hard and were ready to go right from the get go. We had a ton of chances and I thought their goalie played really well and made some big saves. We didn’t give them a lot, but when they did they were big ones and Ned made some huge saves.
Velluci on Alex Nedeljkovic
He played really good. He was smart with the puck, didn’t overhandle it and was very smart in the net.
Vellucci on finally breaking through with the game’s first goal
We had two extra guys, so that helped, but we had a lot of chances. You have to stay calm. We were doing things the right way and getting chances and they weren’t going in, but if you start panicking and complaining about it on the bench that’s no good. We stayed calm and knew it was going to come.
Vellucci on the break
Some of the guys are tired and we’ve played a lot of hockey, so it was a good chance to get a break. What I love is that the game before Christmas is never usually that good. Everyone usually has one foot out the door, but we competed hard and we played the game the right way. After the second I told (assistant coach Ryan Warsofsky) that if we can learn how to play in these games, this is playoff atmosphere. This is what a young team needs to learn how to win.
Alex Nedeljkovic on the win
It’s huge. You want to go in feeling good about yourself, and in last night’s game we were pretty poor. We weren’t ourselves and we didn’t play our game, but tonight we really came out and took it to them. It was a tough win, but you’ve to win those close ones. This feels really good.
Nedeljkovic on the upcoming break
It’s a great refresher. It’s a long season with 76 games, and for some guys it’s a little longer going up and down between leagues. It’s nice to get away from the game for a couple of days now. Refresh, get some rest and come out of the gates swinging when we come back.