DULUTH, GA—Playing shorthanded and with two newly-added players, the Charlotte Checkers scored five unanswered goals and downed the Gwinnett Gladiators, 5-1, on Friday evening in Georgia.
The Checkers were without three regulars as Andrew Carroll and Ethan Graham were called up to Hartford and Milwaukee, respectively, while Mike Taylor was unable to play in the contest. Newcomer Ryan Crane was moved from his regular post on defense to forward to fill the gap up front.
Crane led the charge with two goals and an assist in his first game in a Charlotte uniform while Ryan Munce stopped 25 shots for his fourth win in a row. Munce has now earned the team at least a point in six straight games (5-0-1).
With the win, the Checkers improve to 7-3-2 in 12 games versus division-rival Gwinnett this season and take a four-point lead over third-place Florida in the South Division standings.
Charlotte went on the attack early, however Gladiators goaltender Danny Taylor made several key stops, including a point-blank one-timer by Matt Stefanishion, to keep his team from giving up the first goal.
Gwinnett then opened the scoring when forward Tim Miller took the rebound from a Drew Paris point shot and wrapped it around the Charlotte net past Munce. The goal came at the 15:33 mark of the period and was Miller’s ninth of the season.
Charlotte continued to throw everything they could at Taylor but the Gwinnett netminder stood strong until he was eventually solved late in the second period. After a faceoff win in the Gladiators end, Julien Brouillette let a wrist shot go from the left wing side and Matt Schepke was on the doorstep to bang home the rebound.
The Checkers held a 28-14 shot advantage through two periods of play.
Just over eight minutes into the third, Charlotte would take its first lead of the game when Stefanishion stripped the puck from a Gwinnett forward and dished a pass to Tyler Doig on the right side. Doig let a shot go and the rebound went to Steve Ward who skated in from the point and beat Taylor over the shoulder.
Less than three minutes later, Crane stepped over the blueline, used a Gladiators defenseman as a screen and fired a slap shot that dipped low on the glove side of Taylor for the 3-1 lead.
Crane would then give the Checkers a three-goal lead, shortly after his first tally, when he took a pass from David Marshall in the high slot and beat Taylor once again low on the glove side.
With less than three minutes to play, Charlotte added some insurance when Marshall stickhandled around a Gwinnett defender, took a shot on net and put his own rebound into the top corner.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow in Gwinnett before Charlotte (28-15-6) returns home to host the Toledo Walleye on Thursday for the ‘Midnight Game’. Puck drops at 11:59 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.
Notes: Charlotte is 5-0-1 in its last six games…the Checkers lead the ECHL with 35.84 shots per game…Mike Taylor is currently riding a four-game point streak (1g, 4a)…goaltender Ryan Munce is unbeaten in regulation in six straight games (5-0-1)…Julien Brouillette ranks fifth among all ECHL defensemen with 30 points (12g, 18a)…Tyler Doig ranks fourth among all ECHL players with 56 points (14g, 42a)…T.J. Reynolds leads the ECHL with 197 penalty minutes and is second in overall plus-minus with a +22 rating…Andrew Carroll, Derek Couture, Kenny Roche and Kevin Schaeffer are with Hartford (AHL), Matt Ford and Randy Rowe are with Lake Erie (AHL) and Ethan Graham is with Milwaukee (AHL)…Trevor Glass, Chris Snavely and Chris Chappell are on the 21-day injured reserve.
Charlotte Checkers 5 At Gwinnett Gladiators 1 - Status: Final
Feb 12, 2010 - The Arena at Gwinnett Center
Charlotte 0 1 4 - 5
Gwinnett 1 0 0 - 1
1st Period-1, Gwinnett, Miller 9 (Paris), 15:33. Penalties-Francis Gwt (hooking), 18:48.
2nd Period-2, Charlotte, Schepke 16 (Slattengren, Brouillette), 14:18. Penalties-Munce Chr (delay of game), 7:00; Stefanishion Chr (hooking), 9:08; Francis Gwt (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:25.
3rd Period-3, Charlotte, Ward 3 (Doig, Stefanishion), 8:04. 4, Charlotte, Crane 2 (Reynolds), 11:00. 5, Charlotte, Crane 3 (Marshall, Chabot), 13:52. 6, Charlotte, Marshall 14 (Crane, Munce), 17:44. Penalties-Brouillette Chr (hooking), 2:22.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 12-16-11-39. Gwinnett 5-9-12-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 0 of 2; Gwinnett 0 of 3.
Goalies-Charlotte, Munce 13-9-1-1 (26 shots-25 saves). Gwinnett, Taylor 14-10-1-2 (39 shots-34 saves).
Referees-Steve Patafie (29).
Linesmen-David Jones (57), Ben Shiley (92).