There were less offensive fireworks in the Checkers’ Saturday rematch with Belleville, but that didn’t change the outcome as Charlotte rallied for a 2-1 road victory.
The Checkers came out firing with 14 shots on goal in the first period but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. It was the Senators who broke the deadlock just past the midpoint of the opening frame when former Checker Ethan Werek caught a beneficial bounce in front to put one behind Charlotte netminder Jeremy Smith. That lead would carry through a scoreless second and into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
The visitor’s strong play finally paid off when Phil Di Giuseppe swept into the offensive zone and fired a laser from a low-angle that snuck over the shoulder of Belleville goalie Andrew Hammond and under the bar to knot things up. The Checkers continued their strong push until the final five minutes of play, when Valentin Zykov burst off onto a breakaway and used a slick deke to slide the puck five-hole and give Charlotte their first lead of the night.
Jeremy Smith took things from there, closing out a 21-save performance to defeat the Senators and pick up his second win in a Charlotte sweater.
Tonight marked the first two-game sweep by the Checkers this season … Jeremy Smith’s win snapped his three-game losing streak … The Checkers are now 5-0-0 when outshooting their opponent … The Checkers are now 6-0-0 when allowing two or fewer goals … Janne Kuokkanen and Nick Schilkey both recorded points for the second consecutive game … Valentin Zykov’s goal ties him for second in the AHL this season as of the end of this game … Jake Chelios and Brenden Kichton both missed the game due to injury … Julien Gauthier, Zack Stortini and Mike Ferrantino all served as healthy extras
The Checkers’ longest road trip of the year rolls on Wednesday when they travel to Utica for a 7 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.