The Checkers got revenge against a divisional foe Wednesday night, upending the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a 4-2 score.

Wednesday opening stanza didn’t much resemble the fireworks from last night, as a power-play tally from Patrick Brown stood as the only mark in the period. The Checkers wasted no time adding to that advantage in the middle frame, with Valentin Zykov lifting a loose puck out in front for another man-advantage strike early on, followed quickly by a bar-down snipe from Andrew Poturalski. Brown closed out the period with his second of the night, scooping home a cross-ice feed from Aleksi Saarela to give Charlotte a 4-0 lead.

The Phantoms’ high-flying attack wouldn’t roll over, however, as a late power-play goal in the second and an early mark in the third suddenly cut the Charlotte lead in half. The Phantoms, who fired 28 of their 37 shots in the second two frames, pushed hard down the stretch, but the Checkers stood strong. Jeremy Smith shook off those two blemishes to finish the night with 35 saves, and an empty netter from Andrew Miller sealed the netminder’s fifth win of the season and sent the Phantoms packing.


Coach Mike Vellucci on the response from last night’s loss
Last night wasn’t that bad of a game – we just gave up the power-play goal when we were going for a shorthanded goal and it put us on our heels. This time we played smarter with the puck and kept it deep. They’re a real good team with a lot of older guys – they have two lines that are just dynamite – and Smitty played really well tonight.

Vellucci on getting two power-play goals for the second consecutive game
Both of them tonight were net-front plays. You have to have net front, because if you don’t have that you’re not going to score many goals. We talked about getting back to basics, because on the road trip we only had one power-play goal. We wanted more shots and more traffic to get some of those ugly ones, and I think we got four in the last two games.

Vellucci on goaltender Jeremy Smith
I thought he was awesome and that he made some big saves at quality times. They’re a great offensive team and he made some big saves late and early.

Patrick Brown on the game
I thought we had a great team effort and started the game on time. Last night we gave up a couple early, bounced back but then couldn’t finish. Tonight we played three full periods of solid hockey with four lines.

Brown on the power play
The power play has been huge for us and we’re just trying to get more pucks to the net. We have really skilled players but sometimes we’re tying to make too many skill plays. A lot of our power-play goals have just been greasy shots and rebounds, and we’re going to try to keep doing that.


The Checkers and Phantoms, who entered this week’s matchups as the AHL’s two highest-scoring teams, combined for 16 goals in two games … Brown recorded his first multi-goal game of the season (third career) and first multi-point game since picking up two assists in the season opener on 10/6 … Zykov’s team-leading 13th goal of the season ties him for fourth in the AHL. The Phantoms’ Danick Martel and Greg Carey are two of the three players ahead of him … Zykov is tied for second in the league with seven power-play tallies … Andrew Miller picked up a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to six games (3g, 6a), which is the longest by a Checker this season and his longest since a career-high, seven-game run during the 2013-14 season … Andrew Poturalski has a goal in each of the last four games, which is the longest streak of his career and the longest by a Checker this season … The Checkers scored two power-play goals for the second consecutive game (4-for-9 combined) … For the first time all season, the Checkers were not missing a player due to injury … Forwards Mike Ferrantino, Nick Schilkey and Zack Stortini and defenseman Dennis Robertson 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.