If this was indeed the Checkers’ last game before a handful of players head to NHL training camp, it was quite the sendoff.
Tim Wallace tied a franchise record with four points (1g, 3a), Justin Peters recorded his second consecutive shutout and the Checkers tied the largest victory margin in team history in a 7-0 triumph over Oklahoma City on Friday. Seven different players scored goals for the Checkers, who avenged a 7-2 loss to the Barons in their previous meeting on Nov. 25.
The win was the Checkers’ third in a row dating back to Jan. 4. During that time, they out-scored their opposition by a combined 14-1 margin. Joining Wallace, who also had three assists to set a personal career high for points in a single game, Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry, Zac Dalpe, Jeremy Welsh, Sean Dolan and Bobby Sanguinetti also found the back of the net.
The teams will face each other again on Saturday, though it may be under very different circumstances. With NHL camps seemingly set to start on Sunday, both teams could be missing a handful of players who would be on their way to join the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers.
Playing against a team that was playing without NHL stars Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall and rising star Justin Schultz for the second time since the major league work stoppage ended last week, the Checkers made their mark right from the outset and never looked back. Team scoring leader Zach Boychuk scored on the game’s first shift, finishing a great cross-ice pass from Bobby Sanguinetti just 27 seconds in. Once Terry made it 2-0 with just 11 seconds left in the first as Wallace sprung him on a breakaway with an excellent pass across the neutral zone, the rout was officially on.
Dalpe, who had three goals in his previous two games, extended his scoring streak to three on a back door tap-in of a Terry pass, with Welsh adding a fourth on the power play courtesy of a setup by Bobby Raymond, a recent tryout signing who earned his first point as a Checker. Sean Dolan made it five before the second period was over, skating in alone and beating goalie Olivier Roy, who had just replaced starter Yann Danis, the reigning AHL Goaltender of the Year.
Not to be outdone, Sanguinetti scored on a long shot from the point to give the Checkers their second power-play goal of the game four minutes into the third period, with Wallace, who had two assists in his previous game but had not recorded a multi-point game all season prior to that, sealing the deal with a goal coming up the left wing.
Not that Peters needed to be perfect in this game, he was nonetheless, stopping all 24 shots that came his way to tie his career best for shutouts in one season (4). Previously, he had made 23 saves in the Checkers’ 4-0 win over Lake Erie on Thursday, giving him back-to-back shutouts for the second time in his AHL career and first since the 2008-09 season.
The Checkers now have six team shutouts on the season, extending a single-season team record. Peters, now the Checkers' all-time leader with five shutouts, is the first Charlotte goalie to earn shutout in consecutive starts.
The seven-goal victory tied a 10-3 Checkers win against Syracuse on Dec. 6, 2010, for largest victory margin in team history. It edged a 6-0 victory over Peoria on Oct. 28 for the largest of this season and tied the second-largest winning margin seen in the AHL this season.
The Checkers’ rematch against the Barons on Saturday is the second of a three-in-three set, with the team continuing on to Houston on Sunday.
Terry extended his point streak to five games (2g, 5a) … Justin Krueger had three assists, a new career high for assists and points in a single game … The Checkers scored two power-play goals in a single game for the first time since Oct. 28 … Checkers forward David Rutherford, recalled earlier in the day, made his AHL debut … Forwards Jerome Samson, Nicolas Blanchard and Justin Soryal and defensemen Marc-Andre Gragnani and Rasmus Rissanen all missed the game due to injury … Captain Brett Sutter served a one-game suspension for boarding.
North Carolina Education Lottery Three Stars
1. Tim Wallace
2. Justin Krueger
3. Justin Peters