The Checkers kept their winning ways rolling in the rematch with the Thunderbirds Saturday night, stomping Springfield by a 7-0 score.

Special teams proved to be the driving force for the Checkers tonight. Springfield’s discipline unraveled as it handed Charlotte nine man advantages throughout the game, and the home squad did not squander them. Starting with an Andrew Poturalski tally – his first of two on the night – less than four minutes into regulation, the Checkers would crank out four power-play goals during the game.

The chippy nature of the game extended to the Checkers as well, with Springfield setting out on five power plays, but their penalty kill was up to the task. Charlotte killed all five of those man advantages and even tacked on a shorthanded tally from Clark Bishop, making five of their seven goals on the night coming via special teams.

While the Checkers’ offense ran wild, Alex Nedeljkovic stood tall in the Charlotte end as well, making 29 saves to pick up his 20th win and third shutout of the season.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on the game
Obviously the power play looked really good and moved the puck really well. When they started taking runs at us and started taking penalties, the best way to stop that is to keep scoring. If you beat them 7-0, it’s a lot worse than going out there and fighting them. We have one of the best power plays in the league, so if you give us chances we’re going to score.

Vellucci on Marcus Kruger and Josh Jooris making their Checkers debut
I thought it went good. I didn’t put either of them on the power play tonight because we have set forwards on the power play but the penalty killed a lot tonight. They did a great job in a game like this with so many penalities

Vellucci on Nedeljkovic
In the five-on-three against he made some big saves when it was 3-0. He’s been so consistent for a long time and I’m glad we went with him.

Andrew Poturalski on the power play’s success
We were moving the puck well and had a lot of one-touch passes and got the penalty kill out of position. We’ve geen working on it a lot all season. They were taking stupid penalties and we just kept pouring it on, so it was definitely nice. Every power-play goal towards the end felt even better. If they’re going to play like that and be cheap and put guys in danger, we definitely want to keep burying it on the power play.

Poturalski on his recent uptick in scoring
I’m starting to score a little more as the season’s gone on and my confidence has definitely gone up. Being able to play with that confidence to take the puck to the net is huge.

Poturalski on Nedeljkovic
He was awesome for us. He earned that shutout, every save. It’s huge when he’s playing like that because it gives us confidence to make plays and know he’s got our back. If he keeps playing like that it’s definitely big for us going forward.

Alex Nedeljkovic on the game
The score doesn’t say it so much but I thought the game was pretty even-tilted and that they were coming at us as hard as we were coming at them. We got some good bounces and some good rebounds that we were able to bury and we played really well defensively too. We didn’t give them many good looks in the slot.

Nedeljkovic on starting back-to-back games.
I’m doing alright. We were going back and forth in the first half of the year. I worked all offseason to be able to play however many games I’m going to play. Back-to-backs aren’t easy, but that’s what you work for in the offseason and that’s why you’re ready to go every night no matter what. The other 18 guys are playing every night, so there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to do the same thing.

Nedeljkovic on turning things around after a tough stretch
We had a little rough stretch there on the road and we had a little player meeting about how were going to go about the rest of the year and how we were going to do things. I think these last two games really set the tone for us the rest of the way and showed what kind of hockey team we want to be the rest of the way.

NOTES

Nedeljkovic recorded his third shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. He ended the game tied for the league lead with 20 wins … Miller’s three points (1g, 2a) gave him sole possession of the AHL’s scoring lead with 48 points, passing Lehigh Valley’s Phil Varone … Zykov extended his league leads in goals (24) and power-play goals (14) … The Checkers tied a season high with four power-play goals … Since enduring an 0-for-22 stretch on the power play to begin the calendar year 2018, the Checkers have gone 12-for-45 (26.7 percent) in their last 11 games … The team has shorthanded goals in consecutive games and now have nine on the season, tying them for the most in the AHL … Charlotte has scored five or more goals in four of the last five games. The team has 19 games with five or more goals this season … The Checkers have won five of their last six home games … The Checkers out-scored Springfield 12-2 over the two-game set … Patrick Brown left the game with an injury in the second period and did not return … Forward Sergey Tolchinsky missed the game due to injury … Forwards Mike Ferrantino, Julien Gauthier, Nick Schilkey, Spencer Smallman and Zack Stortini, defenseman Dennis Robertson and goaltender Jeremy Smith sat as extras.

UP NEXT

The Checkers' home stand continues as they welcome Hartford for back-to-back games starting Tuesday.
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.