ESTERO, FL—The Charlotte Checkers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead but were not able to hang on as they were defeated by the Florida Everblades, 4-3, in overtime on Wednesday night. Mike Harder, who was claimed off waivers from Trenton earlier this week, scored in his debut.
Matt Schepke added a goal and an assist and Miika Wiikman stopped 32 of 36 shots in a losing effort. With the overtime loss, the Checkers have now registered a point in 10 of the last 13 games (8-3-2).
The Checkers drew first blood on a great play by Matt Schepke. Schepke broke down the left wing, stepped around a Florida defenseman and fed the puck back into the slot to Harder who one-timed the puck past the Everblades netminder for his fourth of the season. The goal came at the 8:48 mark of the first and was Harder’s first goal as a Checker since he played in Charlotte five years ago.
Less than six minutes later, the Schepke would make it a 2-0 game. The rookie forward skated down the right wing, took a shot and tucked home his own rebound home past Barry Brust for his 10th of the season.
The Checkers then increased their lead to three on the power play late in the period. Kenny Roche took a pass from Tyler Doig, threw it on net from the bottom of the near circle and it deflected in off an Everblades defender past Brust.
Just 26 seconds into the second period, Florida got on the board on a backhand shot by defenseman Matt Duffy that beat Wiikman over the glove.
The Checkers held a 25-17 shot advantage through two periods of play.
Florida would add two goals in the third period just over five minutes apart from Brandon Buck and Harrison Reed. The respective goaltenders would turn aside the remaining 12 shots and the two teams prepared for overtime.
Halfway through overtime, Wiikman stopped an initial shot and wasn’t able to control the rebound as former Checker Ryan Lang was there to net the game-winner.
The two teams will meet again on Friday and Saturday, also in Florida.
The Checkers (12-6-3-0) will continue their five-game road trip on Friday in Florida and will return to Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 16 to host South Carolina. Game time is 7 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com
Notes: Randy Rowe has 10 points (5g, 5a) in seven games since being activated off injured reserve…Matt Schepke and Michel Leveille share the team lead with 10 goals…T.J. Reynolds leads all ECHL defensemen with 99 penalty minutes and 11 fighting majors…Schepke leads the team with a +12 rating…Andrew Carroll and Derek Couture remain on loan to Hartford, Daniel Tkaczuk is with Syracuse, Matt Ford remains with Lake Erie (AHL) and defenseman Ethan Graham is with Norfolk (AHL)…Trevor Glass and Aaron Slattengren are on the 21-day injured reserve.
Charlotte Checkers 3 At Florida Everblades 4 (OT) - Status: Unofficial Final
Dec 9, 2009 - Germain Arena
Charlotte 3 0 0 0 - 3
Florida 0 1 2 1 - 4
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Harder 4 (Rowe, Schepke), 8:48. 2, Charlotte, Schepke 10 (Schaeffer), 14:39. 3, Charlotte, Roche 9 (Doig, Leveille), 18:31 (pp). Penalties-Reynolds Chr (fighting - major), 10:56; Olson Fla (fighting - major), 10:56; Hotham Fla (hooking), 12:12; Thelen Fla (holding), 17:34.
2nd Period-4, Florida, Duffy 1 (Buck, Carlson), 0:26. Penalties-Chabot Chr (tripping), 3:37.
3rd Period-5, Florida, Buck 6 (Morrison, Reid), 2:39 (pp). 6, Florida, Reed 8 (Buck), 8:04. Penalties-Leveille Chr (tripping), 1:33; Zanon Fla (roughing), 4:04; Schepke Chr (interference), 7:04.
OT Period-7, Florida, Lang 6 (Baker), 2:36. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 11-14-4-1-30. Florida 9-8-16-3-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 1 of 2; Florida 1 of 2.
Goalies-Charlotte, Wiikman 3-1-0-1 (36 shots-32 saves). Florida, Brust 3-1-0-2 (11 shots-8 saves); Morrison 5-6-1-0 (19 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Joe Sullivan (4).
Linesmen-Craig Alles (38), James Johnstone (61).