The Checkers put a scare into the Phantoms late in regulation but couldn’t finish their comeback, falling to Lehigh Valley 4-3 to wrap up a long road trip.
Playing their fourth game in six games, the road weary Checkers found themselves in a two-goal hole early in the middle frame before Julien Gauthier banked a quick wrister off the body of Nicolas Roy in front to cut that lead in half minutes later. The Phantoms responded the very next shift, however, then tacked on another right out of the gates in the third to again establish a two-goal advantage. That fourth tally from Lehigh Valley would spell the end for Alex Nedeljkovic, who has been between the pipes for Charlotte during each game of the current road trip, and paved the way for recently recalled rookie Callum Booth to make his AHL debut in relief.
Time looked to be running out for the Checkers but a late power play gave them the chance to pull Booth for a two-man advantage and they capitalized as Aleksi Saarela ripped a shot from the point off the post and in. With some newfound life, the Checkers again pulled their netminder and again were able to cash in, this time with Andrew Miller cutting through the defense and following his own chance with a slick wrap around to pull Charlotte within one in the final minute of play.
Despite the wave of momentum behind them the Checkers couldn’t finish the improbable rally, however, as the clock hit zero and the Phantoms picked up the narrow victory.
The Checkers finished this road trip with a 1-3-2 record … Aleksi Saarela now has goals in each of his last three games … The Checkers have now scored on the power play in each of their last four games … With two helpers tonight Janne Kuokkanen extended his assist streak to three games … Alex Nedeljkovic has appeared in each of the last seven games and 11 of the last 12 … Callum Booth made his AHL debut after being recalled from the ECHL on Monday … Josiah Didier dropped the gloves for his first fight of the season … Sergey Tolchinsky missed the game due to injury … Mike Ferrantino, Zack Stortini, Dennis Robertson and Jeremy Smith were all healthy extras
The Checkers return home this Friday for a 7:15 puck drop against the Springfield.
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.