CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers dropped their first home game of the season with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Gwinnett Gladiators on Sunday afternoon. Gwinnett took advantage often on the power play scoring four goals with the man-advantage.
Checkers goaltender Billy Sauer stopped 31 of 35 shots in a losing effort and former ECHL All-Star Tyler Doig picked up his 100th point as a professional in front a home opener crowd of over 6,000.
Charlotte opened the scoring five and a half minutes into the game on a goal by leading scorer Michel Leveille. Tyler Doig let a shot go from the blueline that went wide and bounced off the end boards onto the stick of Leveille who then tapped it in for his sixth of the early season.
The Checkers got into penalty trouble in the second period and Gwinnett would answer back twice on the power play.
On a 5-on-3 power play, Gladiators forward Scott Mifsud took a pass down low and dished the puck cross-crease to Pat Galivan who one-timed a shot past Checkers’ goaltender Billy Sauer. The goal came at the 9:01 mark of the period.
Charlotte captain Jared Nightingale then took a double-minor penalty for high-sticking that proved to be costly. Gwinnett’s Mifsud dished a pass back to rookie defenseman Drew Paris who beat Sauer with a wrist shot for his league-leading fifth goal of the season among blueliners.
Gwinnett held a 24-18 shot advantage through two periods of play.
Charlotte would tie the game just over eight minutes into the third period on a beautiful goal by Tyler Doig. Doig took a pass at the faceoff circle from Mike Taylor and fired a shot high over the glove of Gwinnett goaltender Danny Taylor for his second of the season. The goal came at the 8:11 mark of the third period and was Doig’s 100th point as a professional.
The Checkers took the lead with just over eight minutes to play on a goal by veteran tough-guy T.J. Reynolds. Reynolds let a shot go on Taylor that deflected into the air and dropped back down across the goal line. Matt Schepke and Mike Taylor picked up assists on the even-strength goal.
Gwinnett tied the game two minutes later with their third power-play goal of the afternoon. Forward Tom Zanoski took a pass from Sam Roberts and buried it blocker side for his fifth goal and team-leading 12th point of the season.
The game remained tied 3-3 at the end of regulation as the teams prepared for their second overtime of this two-game series.
In the extra frame, and on the power play once again, Gwinnett forward Scott Mifsud notched his fourth of season. The game-winning tally came with 42 seconds to play in overtime and sealed the victory for Gwinnett.
The Checkers will now prepare to host Florida on Wednesday and Thursday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.