Aleksi Saarela
The surging Checkers showed no signs of slowing down Wednesday night, thrashing the Phantoms by a 6-2 score to pick up another series sweep.

Tomas Jurco set the tone right off the bat when he cut through the Lehigh Valley defense and opened the scoring just 20 seconds after the opening faceoff and it was all Checkers from there. Morgan Geekie punched a loose puck through a mass of bodies minutes later to double the lead, then Jake Bean unleashed a one-timer to give Charlotte a three-goal advantage before the first buzzer.

The Phantoms would finally break through late in the first to show some signs of life, but Charlotte’s power play propelled the home squad back ahead from there. Patrick Brown netted the lone goal of the middle frame, powering home a puck from down low for his 18th of the season, then Martin Necas kicked off the third by launching a one-time goal from his new favorite firing spot – the left circle.

Lehigh Valley had one more rally attempt in them but it was squashed out by an empty-net conversion from Steven Lorentz and that would seal the deal for Charlotte. Dustin Tokarski kept his pristine record perfect as he recorded 22 saves in another winning effort.

QUOTES

Assistant Coach Ryan Warsofsky on the team playing hard down the final stretch of the regular season
Our mindset since day one is that no matter what the score is, we’re going to compete and play the right way. We’ve got to be proud of our guys because they’re not looking at the standings. They’re just putting their heads down and going to work.

Warsofsky on trying to secure the league’s best record
It’s important to have home ice, and we’re playing for home ice through the whole playoffs. It’s important to line changes and matchups, and our building gets loud and we want to use that to our advantage and as motivation too.

Warsofsky on Tomas Jurco
I think the biggest thing is his compete level. He’s playing with a little bit of an edge, and you can see that he wants the puck on his stick and plays with a little bit of a swagger. He’s got some good pro experience in the NHL, and he’s playing with confidence and it was a huge goal to get us started right away.

Jake Bean on playing well down the stretch
I think we’ve just got to keep trying to do the little things right. Going into the playoffs, you’re not going to just flip a switch. You’ve got to have that mode before you get in there, and we want to be playing our best hockey these last four games.

Bean on his offensive success this season
I think I’m fortunate to be out there with good guys. We’ve got a lot of skill on our team and guys can put you in spots were you just have to put it in, or you can give them the puck and they can do some pretty special things with it. I’m fortunate to be in the spot I’m and hopefully I can keep going.

Tomas Jurco on his early goal
The last couple of games we’ve scored right away in the first couple of minutes, and that obviously helps a lot. It’s not always going to go this way, but the last couple of games we’ve played really good so hopefully if we keep working hard we’re going to have some results.

Jurco on his play
It’s been pretty good the last couple of games for me. I wasn’t playing until late January, so for me this is kind of the beginning or the middle of the season. I’m getting back to feeling pretty good, so I’ll keep working hard and hopefully it’s going to keep going that way.

Jurco on if his experience can help the team in its playoff run
Any way I can help. Mostly it’s on the ice, but anytime it’s needed in the locker room I’m trying to step up and talk to guys. Honestly, here we have so many good players that it hasn’t been the case yet.

NOTES

The Checkers have 16 wins in their last 20 games since Feb. 15. Though idle until Saturday, they can clinch the best record in the conference and the league on Friday depending on other results around the league … The Checkers out-scored Lehigh Valley by a combined 11-3 margin and out-shot them by a combined 77-41 margin over this week’s two-game set. Charlotte won the season series with a 6-1-1 record … Jurco’s three points give him 13 points in 15 games as a Checker … Bean’s 13th goal of the season tied the Checkers’ franchise record for most by a defenseman in a single season … Geekie’s goal gave him eight points (3g, 5a) in his last eight games … Tokarski improved to 5-0-0 as a Checker with just seven total goals allowed … Forward Clark Bishop and defenseman Josiah Didier missed the game due to injury … Forward Zack Stortini and goaltender Scott Darling were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The Checkers continue their final home stand of the season by hosting the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday at 6 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.