Charlotte Checkers vs. Cleveland Monsters
The Checkers flexed their offensive muscles Saturday night, dominating the visiting Cleveland Monsters in a 6-1 rout.

The blue line kicked things off, with Jake Chelios and Dennis Robertson blasting in goals during the first frame, then the Charlotte offense took flight. In the span of 57 seconds, the Checkers lit up the Monsters for three tallies, extending their lead to a staggering 5-0.

The visitors would finally find the scoreboard late in the middle frame, bouncing a puck off a skate in front to break up Daniel Altshuller’s shutout bid, but that was all they could muster. Lucas Wallmark would fire in his second goal of the night late in the third and that would seal the deal, with the Checkers running away with a 6-1 victory.

Quotes

Bryan Bickell on his return to game action: “It feels pretty good. It was a long wait to get that game, but that first game’s over with. It was a rough one to jump back in and play at a high pace here where it’s the second step to the NHL. It was kind of rough, but we got that through and we got the win, which was the most important thing. We’ll make progress step by step and see how it goes.”

Bickell on the process of his return: “From the get go, we didn’t really have a date to come back. I think we’re back pretty early but there’s only so much season left, so I wanted to get back. I wanted to get back in and help out the Canes, and for tonight to help out the Checkers. There are long ups and downs, but it’s nice to put a uniform on, play with the team and do what I’ve been doing my whole life. It was pretty scary in the first month about if this day was going to come, but I’m happy that it came and now I’m moving forward.”

Bickell on his next step: “It worked out that we had just home games so I don’t have to go on the road for a while. Hopefully we progress in the right way and it’s nice to get a couple of home games in front of my wife and my two kids to come watch this game. I know they’re excited, and I got a couple of texts from family and friends who are posting tabs and wanted to see how this game went. Obviously there’s a lot of room for improvement, but it’s baby steps right now.”

Head coach Ulf Sameulsson on his team’s performance tonight: “I saw a lot of good things, obviously with this type of score. I saw puck movement, a lot of good support and overall good speed. We also got some big saves when we needed them. It was pretty much good everywhere.”

Samuelsson on Bickell’s return to the ice: “It’s one of those things you read about and we get to take part in it. It’s very exciting. He’s still very fast and obviously it’s going to take him a few games to get in a full rhythm, but you can see he’s a quality player. He’s a good player and we’re excited for him.”

Samuelsson on the offensive explosion: “We’re getting healthy and we have a really deep lineup right now. It’s unfortunate that we have to tell some guys that they can’t play each night, but it’s a really good lineup right now.”

Andrew Miller returning from injury: “It’s been hard. I had the summer off from training because of surgery and then got injured again. It’s tough to get in a rhythm when your stamina and everything is behind. I still feel like I’ve got a lot to prove, and I want to come the rink and play well every game.”

Miller on the team’s offense: “I think a lot of it is making plays further away from the net. If you make one or two quick passes you create some space and get them out of position. I think we’ve been doing that well, and that’s led to a lot of goals.”

Notes

Bickell was playing his first game since Oct. 30, just prior to his diagnosis … Charlotte (sixth Central) now trails Cleveland (fifth) by one standings point with a game in hand. The top four teams make the playoffs … Since Jan. 10, the Checkers have posted a record of 12-4-2 … The Checkers improved to 17-6-1 at Bojangles’ Coliseum this season. They have won seven of their last eight at home … This was the second time the Checkers had at least five goals through two periods this season. The other was a season-high, eight-goal effort on Oct. 21 … It was also the team’s sixth game with at least five goals this season, four of which have occurred since Jan. 10. Overall, the team has 15 goals in its last three games … Poturalski extended his point streak to eight games (4g, 6a), which is the longest by a Checkers skater in the last two seasons … Brown has five goals in his last nine games … Daniel Altshuller made his first AHL start since a 2-1 overtime win over Tucson on Jan. 22 … Andrew Miller had four assists, giving him eight points over a three-game point streak (1g, 7a) … Brendan Woods has two points in two games since returning from a 45-game injury absence … This was Newbury’s first multi-point effort since joining the Checkers in late November … Forwards Patrick Dwyer, Kyle Hagel and Mitchell Heard and goaltender Michael Leighton missed the game due to injury … Forwards Erik Karlsson and Sergey Tolchinsky were healthy extras.

Up Next

The Checkers continue their six-game home stand Tuesday when they welcome the Milwaukee Admirals to town for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop.
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.

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