The Checkers survived a late charge by Norfolk to earn a 4-3 victory and an even split of their two-game series against the Admirals at Chilled Ponds Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.
Tim Wallace, Tommi Kivisto, Zach Boychuk and Victor Rask scored for the Checkers, who used both Dan Ellis and John Muse in goal. Ellis, making his only appearance of the preseason, stopped all 20 shots he faced before giving way to Muse, who allowed three goals on 15 shots.
At the game’s midway point, the Checkers enjoyed a 3-0 lead on a first-period goal by Wallace and second-period tallies by Kivisto and Boychuk. Wallace, playing his first competitive game in a Charlotte sweater, took advantage of sustained pressure caused by an Admirals player losing his stick and fired a shot through traffic that beat goalie Marco Cousineau at 13:10. The goal was assisted by Boychuk and Riley Nash, with that trio having formed a consistent line throughout training camp.
Kivisto, a rookie taking part in his first North American camp, extended the lead when fellow Finnish defenseman Rasmus Rissanen found him exiting the penalty box after a successful penalty kill, with Kivisto then scoring on a breakaway finish through Cousineau’s legs. Boychuk would extend the lead just 1:42 later by collecting the rebound of a point shot from first-year blueliner Beau Schmitz. Nash collected the primary assist on Boychuk’s goal, giving him two on the day.
The tide began to turn midway through the game, when Norfolk’s Peter Holland scored on the first shot against Muse at 10:49 of the second period, a finish of a cross-crease pass from Devante Smith-Pelley. After Rask’s power-play goal, which came on a feed from Zac Dalpe to make it 4-1, the Admirals then scored two unanswered goals in the third period to set up tense moments in the final period, including two Checkers penalties in the final four and a half minutes of regulation.
However, the Checkers’ special teams came through, with Charlotte scoring on its only power-play chance and killing all four of Norfolk’s opportunities.
The win avenges Saturday’s 3-0 loss against the Admirals that marked both teams’ first exhibition contest. The Checkers now head home and will resume practice on Tuesday before going to Houston for their regular-season opener on Oct. 13.
Dan Ellis (starter), John Muse
Brett Bellemore, Tommi Kivisto, Justin Krueger, Austin Levi, Rasmus Rissanen, Beau Schmitz
Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe, A.J. Jenks, Riley Nash, Victor Rask, Jerome Samson, Justin Shugg, Jared Staal, Justin Soryal, Tim Wallace, Jeremy Welsh