February 10, 2012 10:04 PM
Having scored so early, the Checkers might have expected further goals to come easily. As it turned out, they wouldn’t strike again until near the last possible second.
Zac Dalpe found the back of the net with 13 seconds left in overtime to secure a 2-1 road victory over the division rival Milwaukee Admirals on Friday night, giving his team its eighth win in its last 10 games. That broke a lengthy drought for the visitors, who opened the scoring via rookie Sean Dolan just two and a half minutes in to a tightly-played affair that saw Milwaukee finish with a 26-22 edge in shots.
Charlotte goalie John Muse, making his sixth consecutive start, made 25 saves to improve to 8-1-0 this season. The 23-year-old rookie, who started the campaign with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades, now has a 1.63 goals-against average and .962 save percentage at the AHL level this season.
The victory, coupled with a Chicago Wolves loss against Rockford, gives the Checkers a six-point lead in the Midwest. They’ll take that into another divisional game in Peoria on Saturday as they continue a three-in-three weekend set that concludes with a home date against Norfolk on Sunday.
Dalpe’s goal, his 12th of the season and second in four games, came when defenseman Justin Krueger held the puck in at the blue line and sent it over to Samson, who drew two defenders to him before finding a wide-open Dalpe for the finish that beat Milwaukee’s Atte Engren.
The goal marked the first overtime win of the season for Charlotte, which has won five games in the shootout. It was also the Checkers’ fourth consecutive win over Milwaukee, which had been their main divisional competition prior to dropping 11 of its last 15 games.
Before Kyle Wilson beat Muse to tie the game late in the second period, Dolan, who turns 24 tomorrow, scored on the rebound of a Bobby Sanguinetti shot from the point to open the scoring at 2:31 of the first period. The goal marked the sixth point (3g, 3a) in 14 games for the University of Wisconsin product who is on a professional tryout contract with the Checkers. His second-period hooking penalty was his first infraction in 14 AHL games.
With the assist, Sanguinetti extended his team-record point streak to 11 games (5g, 10a). The streak is the longest active run in the AHL, with only two players – Hershey’s Chris Bourque (12 games) and Keith Aucoin (16 games) – posting longer streaks this season.
Aside from the goals, scoring chances were hard to come by except for two good chances by Zach Boychuk in the second period and a flurry of saves by Muse late in the third. Power plays were also scarce between two of the league’s best-disciplined teams, with Charlotte going 0-2 and Milwaukee going 0-3.
The most notable occurrence on special teams came when the Checkers killed Rasmus Rissanen’s four-minute double minor for high-sticking to close out the first period.
The Checkers finished the game without center Riley Nash, who was shaken up on a hard hit along the boards during the Rissanen penalty, causing him to leave the game and not return. Should he not be able to play Saturday, the Checkers are carrying one extra forward on their road trip.
NOTES: The Checkers are now 4-1-0 in the season series with Milwaukee, with three more games still to be played … The Checkers improved to 2-4-0 in the first games of three-in-three sets this season … The Checkers are now 12-4-1 against teams within their own division … Charlotte has won eight of its last 10 road games … Forward Jared Staal and defenseman Joe Sova were healthy scratches for Charlotte. Forward Chris Durno, defenseman Chris Murray and goalie Mike Murphy remain out due to injury … Goalie Dave Caruso, signed to a professional tryout contract earlier in the week, suited up for his first game as a Checker.