CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Checkers staged a late comeback but were eventually doubled up, 4-2, by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in their first ever AHL game at Time Warner Cable Arena.
More than 12,500 fans were on hand for the historic game, which featured an elaborate opening ceremony with representatives from both the Checkers and Carolina Hurricanes.
Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey led the charge with two goals on nine shots while Jerome Samson and Oskar Osala scored for the Checkers. Justin Pogge got the start for Charlotte and made 35 saves in a losing effort.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would strike first on the power play after Checkers winger Matt Kennedy took a hooking penalty. Pogge attempted to clear the zone from behind his net when Jeffrey intercepted the puck at the goal line and chipped it in.
The Checkers battled back with an aggressive forecheck but Penguins netminder Thiessen was solid and turned away a flurry of shots.
Early in the second Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was handed back-to-back penalties and the Checkers went to work on a 5-on-3 power play. Samson would then score the historic first goal in Charlotte for the Checkers. Jon Matsumoto took a pass from defenseman Bryan Rodney and found Samson at the far side, who one-timed the puck past Thiessen.
The frenzied Time Warner Cable Arena fans would have little time to savor the goal, however, as the Penguins struck back just over a minute later. While still shorthanded, Jeffrey broke free from a Charlotte defender and beat Pogge with a forehand-to-backhand move. The goal came at the 4:33 mark of the second period.
The Penguins doubled their lead later in the period when center Joe Vitale scooped up a loose puck in the Checkers’ zone and beat Pogge top shelf, glove-side.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held a 30-24 shot advantage through two periods of play.
Three minutes into the third period, Checkers forward Oskar Osala made it a 3-2 game when he drove to the net and knocked in a rebound from a shot by Zach Boychuk.
The comeback wouldn’t last long, however, as the Penguins regained their two-lead just two minutes later.
The Checkers pulled Pogge for an extra attacker with time winding down but Thiessen stood his ground and walked away with a 4-2 victory.
The two teams will battle again Sunday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Game time is 3 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by visiting www.gocheckers.com or calling 704-342-4423.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4 at Charlotte Checkers 2 - Status: Final
Friday, October 15, 2010 - Time Warner Cable Arena
W-B/Scranton 1 2 1 - 4
Charlotte 0 1 1 - 2
1st Period-1, W-B/Scranton, Jeffrey 1 8:45 (PP). Penalties-Kennedy Cha (hooking), 6:55; FitzGerald Cha (boarding), 16:52.
2nd Period-2, Charlotte, Samson 3 (Rodney, Matsumoto), 3:10 (PP). 3, W-B/Scranton, Jeffrey 2 (Collins, Walker), 4:33 (SH). 4, W-B/Scranton, Vitale 2 14:17. Penalties-Sterling Wbs (boarding), 2:12; Potter Wbs (holding), 2:55; Strait Wbs (interference), 8:12; FitzGerald Cha (slashing), 11:03; Sanguinetti Cha (holding), 16:39.
3rd Period-5, Charlotte, Osala 1 (Matsumoto, Boychuk), 3:00. 6, W-B/Scranton, Wagner 1 (Lerg, Conner), 5:07. Penalties-Boulerice Wbs (holding), 6:58; FitzGerald Cha (interference), 14:47; Conner Wbs (tripping), 14:59; Osala Cha (tripping), 17:35.
Shots on Goal-W-B/Scranton 11-19-9-39. Charlotte 11-13-8-32.
Power Play Opportunities-W-B/Scranton 1 / 6; Charlotte 1 / 5.
Goalies-W-B/Scranton, Thiessen 2-0-0 (32 shots-30 saves). Charlotte, Pogge 0-2-0 (39 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Tim Mayer (19).
Linesmen-Terry Wicklum (58), Paul Carnathan (93).