The Checkers opened up their ninth season in the AHL with some offensive fireworks, rolling over the Rochester Americans 6-2.
It took some time for the offense to kick in, but Janne Kuokkanen opened the season’s scoring with a power-play marker late in the first, followed seconds later by a seeing-eye point shot from Roland McKeown to double the Charlotte advantage going into the second.
The home team punched back in the middle frame, evening the score with a pair of their own, but Kuokkanen connected on an odd-man rush with Nicolas Roy to put the Checkers back on top 3-2 through 40 minutes of play.
The Checkers hit their stride in the third period and pulled away from the Americans, with Kuokkanen notching his second of the night just 72 seconds in followed by Andrew Poturalski pulling of a beautiful toe drag through traffic to extend the lead to three goals before the four minute mark even hit. Charlotte’s power play tacked on one more in the third for good measure, with Roy netting his second goal of the game to seal a lopsided 6-2 victory for the visiting Checkers.
Alex Nedeljkovic was called upon for the start, stopping 22 of the 24 attempts he was faced with, while the Checkers peppered Rochester netminder Scott Wedgewood with 39 shots on the night.
The Checkers improved to 5-3-1 in their first game of the season, with tonight marking their largest-ever margin of victory in those games. All nine season openers took place on the road … Kuokkanen (2g, 2a) recorded his third career game with at least four points … This was Roy’s first career multi-goal game. He also tied his career high with three points and set a new career best with a game-high nine shots on goal … Spencer Smallman had two assists in his AHL debut … Morgan Geekie picked up an assist in his first professional game … Defenseman Michal Cajkovsky posted a game-high, plus-3 rating in his Checkers debut … Dan Renouf had an assist in his first game as a Checker … Charlotte converted on two of its three power-play opportunities … Defenseman Josiah Didier missed the game due to injury … Forwards Nick Schilkey and Zack Stortini and defenseman Michael Fora were healthy extras.
The Checkers and Americans will square off again tomorrow night at 7:05.
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.