The Charlotte Checkers won their first-ever meeting with the Laval Rocket by a 3-1 score
It was a far cry from their usual high-flying performances, but the Checkers were able to grind out a tight win over the Laval Rocket by a 3-1 score.

In a tightly contested first, neither team could produce much in terms of scoring chances, but both sides were able to convert. Lucas Wallmark caught a seeing-eye pass from Andrew Miller for an easy deposit into the vacated net to give the Checkers an early lead, but a power-play tally from Laval evened the score shortly after.

The tide shifted in Charlotte’s favor starting in the middle frame as the home squad continued to ratchet up the pressure. Valentin Zykov broke the tie with his league-leading ninth power-play goal of the season midway through the period, finishing off a smooth tic-tac-toe play with his linemates, and that would end up being all the Checkers needed. Charlotte held the Rocket to just four shots in the final frame, stifling the visitors and snuffing out Laval’s rally attempt. Jeremy Smith, between the pipes for the second consecutive contest, made 20 stops on the night and picked up his third consecutive victory.


Coach Mike Vellucci on the game
I don’t think we had a good start. They weren’t forechecking us, so I think we decided we weren’t going to forecheck them and that’ snot our game plan. We didn’t get into our game into the second and the third period, and then in the last 10 minutes of the game we controlled the puck.

Vellucci on the team’s start
They’ve got to learn to snap out of it themselves, motivate themselves and figure it out. I can only teach them and tell them so much. We’ve got a good leadership group in there that keeps them honest, and they knew that wasn’t a good first period. I didn’t have to say much – our leadership does it.

Vellucci on going 1-for-2 on the power play
The power play goal is a big one because there were only a few power plays. We’ve got to shore up our penalty kill because we’ve given up a goal every game we’ve been home, but the power play was good for us.

Lucas Wallmark on his line with Zykov and Miller
We’re playing with each other almost all of last year and this season, and we find each other well out there and work for each other. I think we read the puck the same way, and it’s been working good so far.

Wallmark on the team getting better as the game went on
We kind of stood back way too much and that’s not how we play. In the second I think we really stepped up and had a good period and stepped up really good.


Charlotte won for the sixth time in its last seven games … Zykov’s goal was his 15th of the season, which ties him for the AHL lead, and his ninth on the power play, which is most in the AHL. He has five goals over the course of a four-game streak … Andrew Miller extended his assist/point streak to seven games (3g, 8a) which is the longest by a Checker this season and ties his career high set during the 2013-14 campaign … Jeremy Smith made 20 saves to win his third straight game, his longest win streak of the season … Former Checker Chris Terry played against his former team for the first time and picked up the primary assist on Laval’s goal … Forwards Mike Ferrantino, Zack Stortini and Sergey Tolchinsky were healthy extras.
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.