The Checkers kicked of their 2017-18 campaign in the most dramatic of fashions, cashing in on a last-minute game winner to topple the Hartford Wolf Pack 5-4.
After playing catch up the entire night, Warren Foegele collected a rebound off the outstretched pad of Hartford netminder Alexandar Georgiev and curled it back into the net with exactly one minute remaining in regulation to give the visiting Checkers their first lead of the game. Charlotte then fastened down for one final push from the Wolf Pack and held on for a hard-fought 5-4 victory on opening night.
Foegele, playing in his first pro game, also opened the scoring for the Checkers, responding to an early Hartford strike with a quick one-timer out front later in the frame. The home squad would then take advantage for three of the next four tallies, building themselves a two-goal cushion in the third period.
The Checkers’ new look offense came roaring back down the stretch, however, tilting the ice in their favor and notching a pair to even the score, paving the way for Foegele’s late-game heroics.
Alex Nedeljkovic, who manned the pipes for all of the game save for a two-minute stretch when an equipment issue forced him to the locker room, buckled down in the third, turning aside 11 of the 12 shots he was peppered with and helping the Checkers survive to clinch the two points.
Tonight was the first season opening win for Charlotte since the 2015-16 season … The team is now 4-3-1 all-time in season openers … This was the Checkers’ first win over an Eastern Conference opponent since Jan. 16, 2015 and first as a member of the Eastern Conference since April 9, 2011 … Warren Foegele is the fourth player in franchise history to score two goals in a season opener and the first rookie to do so … Patrick Brown matched career highs in assists (2) and points (2) and set a career high in plus/minus with a game-best +3 … Julien Gauthier made his pro debut … Tyler Ganly, Mike Ferrantino, Zack Stortini and Nick Schilkey served as healthy extras
The Checkers’ season-opening road trip continues tomorrow night in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop.
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.