READING, PA—The Charlotte Checkers battled back from a two-goal deficit with three unanswered goals and downed the Reading Royals, 4-3, in a shootout on Thursday evening for their third straight road win.
Daniel Tkaczuk potted two goals while rookie goaltender Garrett Zemlak stopped 32 of 35 shots for the win in his first ever professional game. Andrew Carroll netted his league-leading fifth shootout-winning goal and Matt Schepke chipped in with two assists.
The Checkers have now won six straight games and can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Trenton tomorrow night in Charlotte.
The Royals opened the scoring at the 6:21 mark of the first period when Olivier Labelle picked up a rebound from a Rob LaLonde point shot and poked it in for his 22nd of the season.
Early in the second, Reading would make it a 2-0 game, on the power play, when Stefano Giliati took a pass at the side of the net and let go a perfectly-placed shot high over the glove of Zemlak.
The Checkers then responded with a power-play strike of their own just 98 seconds later. David Urquhart let a wrist shot go from the point and Tkaczuk was on the doorstep to pot his 10th of the season.
Less than three minutes later, Charlotte tied it on a goal by Carroll, his team-leading 25th. Michel Leveille held the puck in at the blueline to keep the play alive and skated to the hash marks before feeding a pass back to Steve Ward. Ward then let go a wrist shot that made its way through traffic and into the back of the net.
The Checkers would then take their first lead of the game on Tkaczuk’s second of the night. Zemlak played the puck to Schepke who skated the length of the ice and broke in alone on Reading goaltender Matt Dalton. Dalton stopped the initial shot and Tkaczuk banged home the rebound for the 3-2 lead.
Reading held a 26-17 advantage in shots through 40 minutes, however Zemlak stood his ground to keep it a one-goal game.
Midway through the third, the Royals went to work on the power play and made no mistake as Ryan Cruthers netted his 17th to send the game to overtime.
After a scoreless overtime, the two teams prepared for a shootout. Aaron Slattengren was the first to shoot for Charlotte and did not disappoint as he potted his league-leading seventh shootout goal. Giliati would even it up for Reading before Carroll put the Checkers ahead again.
The stage was then set for Zemlak to seal the victory in his first ever game. Ben Gordon skated in on the Charlotte net, faked and let a shot go which the rookie steered away with the left pad, giving the Checkers a 4-3 win.
The Checkers (37-20-7) will host Trenton Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com. Season tickets for the inaugural 2010-11 AHL season are now on sale and 40-game packages start as low as $200.
Notes: The Checkers have won six in a row, are 7-0-1 in their last eight games and 11-2-1 in their last 14 at home…Ryan Munce has won five straight games, is 6-0-1 in his last seven starts and ranks third in the ECHL with 21 wins…Matt Schepke leads the team with a +20…Andrew Carroll leads the ECHL with five shootout-winning goals and is tied with Schepke for the team lead with 24 goals…Julien Brouillette and Derek Couture are up with Hartford (AHL), Kenny Roche is with Providence (AHL), Ethan Graham is with Texas (AHL) while Matt Ford and Randy Rowe are with Lake Erie (AHL)…Codey Burki, Chris Chappell, Trevor Glass and Chris Snavely are on the 21-day injured reserve.
Charlotte Checkers 4 (SO) At Reading Royals 3 - Status: Final SO
Mar 18, 2010 - Sovereign Center
Charlotte 0 3 0 0 - 4
Reading 1 1 1 0 - 3
1st Period-1, Reading, Labelle 22 (LaLonde, Gordon), 6:21. Penalties-Carroll Chr (holding), 11:05; Hendrikx Chr (roughing, roughing), 12:57; Stamoulis Rea (roughing), 12:57; Ward Chr (interference), 15:33.
2nd Period-2, Reading, Giliati 18 (Cruthers, Gordon), 2:58 (pp). 3, Charlotte, Tkaczuk 10 (Urquhart, Schepke), 4:36 (pp). 4, Charlotte, Ward 5 (Leveille, Carroll), 7:26. 5, Charlotte, Tkaczuk 11 (Schepke, Zemlak), 13:08. Penalties-Schepke Chr (hooking), 2:24; Giliati Rea (interference on the goalkeeper), 3:13; Gordon Rea (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:26; LaLonde Rea (holding), 11:00; Stefanishion Chr (cross-checking), 15:34; Dowzak Chr (holding), 18:50.
3rd Period-6, Reading, Cruthers 17 11:44 (pp). Penalties-Gordon Rea (hooking), 3:03; Urquhart Chr (hooking), 4:00; Chabot Chr (high-sticking), 5:55; Schaeffer Chr (interference), 6:39; Slattengren Chr (holding the stick), 10:15.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout - Charlotte 2 (Slattengren G, Leveille NG, Schepke NG, Tkaczuk NG, Carroll G), Reading 1 (Labelle NG, Giliati G, Cruthers NG, Sarauer NG, Gordon NG).
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 6-11-6-3-1-27. Reading 15-11-8-1-0-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 1 of 4; Reading 2 of 10.
Goalies-Charlotte, Zemlak 1-0-0-0 (35 shots-32 saves). Reading, Dalton 18-19-0-3 (26 shots-23 saves).
Referees-Keith Kaval (20).
Linesmen-Ray King (39), Matt Macpherson (83).