After weathering a heavy push from the visitors early on, the Checkers opened the scoring in the frame’s final minute with Julien Gauthier picking off a Rochester pass and launching a shot along the ice past Scott Wedgewood.
The physicality ramped up at the first buzzer, and Rochester carried that momentum into the second by evening the score less than three minutes in. Bobby Sanguinetti took back Charlotte’s lead later in the frame, however, after following up his own shot and potting the rebound for his first goal since rejoining the Checkers earlier this season.
The Amerks would continue to push down the stretch, doubling up Charlotte in shots, but Dustin Tokarski would come through strong for the home side. Aleksi Saarela extended Charlotte’s advantage with a snipe on the man advantage and that would prove to be the dagger, as the team rode out Tokarski’s 33 saves to another win on home ice.
I didn’t like the first 10 minutes. We didn’t have a shot on net and [Tokarksi] really held us in there. He made some big saves. [Gauthier] scored a big goal there on a turnover in the neutral zone, and that changed the momentum of the game once we got that first one.
Vellucci on killing nine penalties
I give [Assistant Coach Ryan Warsofsky] credit. He’s worked hard with dthe guys on the PK. We didn’t give them a lot of zone time. On their breakouts we did a really good job of trailing and making it at 3-on-3 and there were other guys paying the price to block shots. It’s huge to kill nine because they have one of the top power plays. To kill nine is pretty special.
Vellucci on Bobby Sanguinetti’s first goal
I’ve talked to Bobby a lot about it lately. He was a little worried that he wasn’t getting offensive chances but it had been coming for a long time. He’s been progressing well because he’s been off for most of the year and didn’t start until January. He’s coming along great and I was really happy for him.
Vellucci on the Checkers’ sixth straight home win
It’s a fun crowd to play in front of. Our guys love being in Charlotte. The fans are special and there’s a lot more of them this year. We definitely notice when more people are showing up. The crowds have been great and very energetic and get us going a lot of times.
Vellucci on how to approach the upcoming mathcups with Syracuse, the league’s new No. 2 team
The same. They’re both top teams in that division. They’re very good, they’re fast they’re experienced and they’ve been winning a lot. We just have to play it like a playoff game. It’s fun to play in these games and get better by playing in the big games.
Vellucci on Tokarski’s game
He’s got experience. He’s played in the National Hockey League so he can settle some of our young guys down. He didn’t beat himself – he made them beat him. He made the easy ones look easy and the hard ones look easy too.
Bobby Sanguinetti on the game
I think we felt it out a little too much instead of playing our game and taking it to them. This is a playoff atmosphere and to see games like this down the stretch is going to be good for us. It’s good to get the win.
Sanguinetti on his goal
I was just trying to get something going and create something. The puck found me in the slot and the net couldn’t have looked bigger at that moment. It was nice to get the first one.
Dustin Tokarski on his approach to the game
I’m focusing on just doing what I can to help this team win every night. [Alex Nedeljkovic] has been outstanding for them all year, and if I can come in and give him a little rest and do my job, that’s what I’m here to do.
Tokarksi on his role on the team
I’ve played a little longer than a lot of these guys, and they’re all good kids and extremely talented. It’s a fun team to be a part of. It’s well coached and guys work and compete. I’m here to be a calming presence and if things get a little hectic once in a while I’ll calm things down and just do my part to be a good teammate.