A busy weekend for the Checkers got off to a tough start as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms claimed a 3-2 victory with a late goal on Friday.
After Warren Foegele had scored his 21st goal of the season, tops among AHL rookies, to tie the game in the third period, the Phantoms broke the deadlock when Cole Bardreau tipped home a shot from the point with exactly three minutes remaining in regulation.
Charlotte also got a goal from its other All Star, Valentin Zykov, in a game that saw them out-shoot the Phantoms 40-26. Former Checker John Muse, the reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Month who the Phantoms called up from that league earlier in the day, made 38 saves to get the win over Charlotte’s Alex Nedeljkovic (23 saves).
Charlotte, which opened the scoring through Zykov’s league-leading 23rd goal and 13th power-play goal of the season in the first period before allowing the Phantoms to score twice in the second, fell to 13-2-1 when scoring the game’s first goal.
The Phantoms lead the season series 3-2-0. They are on a five-game point streak (4-0-1) and have won six of their last eight … Three of John Muse’s four AHL games this season were against the Checkers. Muse, who played for Charlotte from 2011-16, is the team’s all-time leader in games played (125) and wins (63) by a goaltender … Phantoms forward Phil Varone, who entered the game tied for the AHL scoring lead, missed the game due to illness … Forward Sergey Tolchinsky missed the game due to injury … Forwards Mike Ferrantino, Spencer Smallman and Zack Stortini and defenseman Dennis Robertson were healthy extras.
The Checkers continue a three-in-three weekend with games in Hershey tomorrow and Sunday. They then complete their four-game road trip with a rematch against the Phantoms on Wednesday.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.