With two of the Checkers’ top scorers spending the week in the NHL, Jerome Samson is showing that he’s more than capable of carrying the offense.
Samson scored two power-play goals, extending his point streak to seven games, to lead Charlotte to a 4-2 win over Rockford on Sunday that concluded the team’s most-recent road trip. Jared Staal and Michal Jordan also scored for the Checkers, who won their second consecutive game to improve to 8-4-1 overall.
Samson’s two-goal effort was the only multi-goal game of his streak, which ranks as the second-longest active streak in the AHL behind Houston forward Jon DiSalvatore’s 9-game run. Since Oct. 23, Samson has 4 goals and 6 assists, moving him into sole possession of the team scoring lead with 14 points. He also moved into the team lead in power-play goals, passing Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman, who are currently with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The fifth-year forward’s first goal, which held up as the eventual game winner, came with 2:07 remaining in the Checkers’ best opening period of the season. Samson’s tally, a backhand finish along the ice that beat IceHogs goalie Alexander Salak between the legs, made it 3-0 Checkers – a lead they would hold heading into the intermission.
Samson would add a fourth for the Checkers in the second period, restoring the team’s three-goal lead after the home team’s Jimmy Hayes had beaten Charlotte goaltender Mike Murphy, but was unable to secure his second career hat trick to cap the evening.
Murphy made 28 saves on the night, picking up his sixth win in his last eight starts.
Staal opened the scoring for the Checkers with his first goal of the season and second of his AHL career. The play started when center Brett Sutter sent a pass to Justin Soryal in front, with Soryal only touching the puck for a moment before sending it behind him to Staal for a backhand finish. The tally marked Staal’s first goal since Dec. 18, 2010.
Later in the period, defenseman Michal Jordan scored his second of the season just after Charlotte’s first power play had expired, using plenty of available time and space to skate in from the point and beat Salak with a wrist shot from the slot. Jordan would later add an assist on Samson’s second goal for his first multi-point season, a feat also achieved by Riley Nash (2 assists).
Rockford, which had been off since last Saturday while the Checkers played their third game in three nights, looked to be the fresher team in the third period, out-shooting Charlotte 13-8. However, Murphy stood tall, limiting the damage to a Brandon Pirri goal at the 4:35 mark.
For the third consecutive weekend, Charlotte finished a three-games-in-three-nights cluster with a record of 2-1-0, and will now return home before embarking on another such set that will conclude a season-long run of nine consecutive road games.
Samson previously had three seven-game point streaks in his career, including a career-long eight-game streak in 2009-10. He has been held scoreless in just three of the Checkers’ 13 games this season … Charlotte’s three first period goals was a season high. Prior to Sunday, the Checkers had scored a total of seven goals in their previous 12 first periods … Center Zac Dalpe, on a conditioning stint from the NHL as he returns from a lower-body injury, returned to the Checkers’ lineup after sitting out Saturday’s game and recorded four shots on goal … Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen was a healthy scratch for Charlotte, continuing a rotation with fellow blueliner Justin Krueger … Only four Checkers players – Scott Pitt, Justin Faulk, Brett Bellemore and Nash – did not record a shot on goal.