The Checkers and Phantoms locked in another Atlantic Division heavyeight bout, but this time it was Lehigh Valley who came out on top, snuffing out a Charlotte comeback to win 3-2.
After an opening frame that saw the Checkers dominate the shot count 13-3 and carry most of the action, the Phantoms turned the tables in the second. Colin McDonald converted on an odd-man rush to break the ice early, then Mike Vecchione lit the lamp twice within five minutes, once on the man advantage and once on a shorthanded breakaway to build the home side a sizeable 3-0 lead through 40 minutes of play.
Never ones to roll over, the Checkers snatched the momentum back quickly in the third as Aleksi Saarela redirected a Josiah Didier point blast and then threaded home a wrister on the power play minutes later to pull Charlotte within one before the midway point of the period.
The Checkers would continue to push from there, including on a key man advantage late in regulation, but couldn’t find a way to put the equalizer behind Alex Lyon before the clock hit zero, snapping Charlotte’s four-game winning streak.
Tonight was Aleksi Saarela’s third multi-goal game of the season and he became the second Checker this season to hit the 20-goal mark … Three of the five meetings between Charlotte and Lehigh Valley this season have been decided by one goal … Prior to tonight the Checkers had not allowed a second-period goal in four straight games … The Checkers have allowed three shorthanded goals in their last three games … The Checkers have scored a power-play goal in each of their last three games … Patrick Brown, Trevor Carrick and Nick Schilkey all extended their point streaks to three games … Janne Kuokkanen and Spencer Smallman missed the game due to injury … Zack Stortini, Dennis Robertson and Bobby Sanguinetti were healthy extras
After an unusual day off in between, the Checkers and Phantoms will square off once again on Sunday for a 1:00 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.