The Checkers bounced back in a big way on Saturday, earning a 4-2 win in Lehigh Valley to end their two-game losing streak.
Steven Lorentz, Cavan Fitzgerald, Blake Winiecki and Oliwer Kaski scored for Charlotte, which avenged a Friday loss to the Phantoms and is now 1-1-0 on its three-games-in-three-days set that concludes Sunday evening in Hershey.
Callum Booth, the fifth goaltender that the Checkers have used in their last five games, made 21 saves to earn the victory in his first AHL game in just over a year.
After giving up a key shorthanded goal late in Friday’s game, the Checkers got things going with a shorthanded goal of their own early in this contest when Lorentz stole a puck at the Phantoms blue line and finished the ensuing two-on-one break himself for his 20th goal of the season.
From there, the Checkers scored three unanswered goals, including second-period strikes by Fitzgerald and Winiecki and a third-period bomb by Oliwer Kaski, to take a 4-0 lead.
Lehigh Valley defenseman James de Haas spoiled Booth’s shutout bid on a rush midway through the third period to give the Phantoms some consolation, with Andy Andreoff adding another on a goalmouth scramble with 4:20 left in regulation.
The Checkers finish their six-game road trip with a 3-3-0 record. They begin a six-game home stand with back-to-back games against the Utica Comets this Friday and Saturday.
The Checkers maintain their hold on the fourth and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. They have a four-point lead over fifth-place Springfield with two fewer games played … Steven Lorentz has 20 goals in 56 games this season. Prior to that, he had just three goals in 32 career regular-season games … Booth played his first AHL game since Feb. 17, 2019 … Kaski has four goals and five points in his last seven games. He ranks second among AHL defensemen with 13 goals – just one off the league lead … The Checkers are tied for sixth in the AHL with nine shorthanded goals … Fitzgerald scored his second goal of the season and first since Nov. 26 … Winiecki’s goal was his first in the AHL in just his third career game. He has 49 goals in 121 career ECHL games with the Florida Everblades … Checkers defenseman Joey Keane suffered an injury midway through the third period and did not return … Forwards Brian Gibbons and Colin Markison missed the game due to injury … Defenseman Derek Sheppard and new acquisitions Alexis D’Aoust and Keith Kinkaid were healthy extras.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.