Patrick Brown
There was no post-holiday hangover for the Checkers, as they took down the Laval Rocket 4-2 their first visit to Charlotte.

The Checkers’ early lead courtesy of a Valentin Zykov rebound conversion and a one-time blast from captain Patrick Brown in his return from injury were erased in the middle frame by a pushback from the visitors.

That deadlock didn’t last long, however, as Jake Bean threaded a quick wrister past Laval netminder Charlie Lindgren minutes later to push the Checkers back ahead. Aleksi Saarela padded Charlotte’s advantage late in the second with a snipe on the power play and that would be all the Checkers needed.

Alex Nedeljkovic weathered Laval’s final rally attempt to finish the game with 14 saves and pick up his AHL-leading 12th win of the season.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on how the defense played after Trevor Carrick’s callup
They got a lot of minutes. For Wes this was his first game in a long time because he was injured most of last year, so I thought he did really well actually. For Wes, he knows he’s got to keep it simple, make the easy play and play physical. He did a good job.

Vellucci on Patrick Brown returning to the lineup
It’s huge actually. I don’t think people realize it as much as the coaching staff does. He’s a leader, he’s vocal, he leads by example and he works extremely hard every shift. He drags everybody else into the play with him. It’s awesome to have him back for sure.

Patrick Brown on coming back to the lineup after missing six games
I felt great. My linemates were buzzing and that made it easy to get my feet back under me. We got a couple early, and that always feels good to get your legs going and your hands back.

Brown on how his team limited Laval’s chances
Just a strong offense. The best defense is a good offense. We were playing in their end most of the night, and when they were in our end we were tight, we were boxing out and letting Ned see the puck pretty well.

Aleksi Saarela on how Brown’s return helped
A lot. Brownie is a great guy in the locker room and he leads us off and on the ice. He’s probably the best captain I’ve ever had and I have huge respect for him.

NOTES

The Checkers improved to 15-4-1, solidifying their league-best record … This was just their seventh home game, tied for the fewest in the league … The Checkers have won four of their last five games … Charlotte improved to 5-0-0 all-time against Laval … Brown returned to the lineup after missing the last six games due to injury … Saarela has four goals in his last four games … Bean extended his point streak to three games (1g, 2a) Josh Wesley, recalled from ECHL Florida earlier in the day, picked up an assist in his AHL season debut … The Checkers allowed just two shots in the second period, their lowest of any period this season … Forward Spencer Smallman and defenseman Josiah Didier missed the game due to injury … Forwards Morgan Geekie, Nick Schilkey and Zack Stortini were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The Checkers wrap up their home stand with a rematch against the Rocket tomorrow at 1 p.m.
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.