The Checkers found a surge of offense and secured a point in the standings Saturday night, but the Thunderbirds shocked Charlotte late to pull off the overtime win.

After falling into a two-goal hole after one period of play, the Checkers dug themselves out with a burst of scoring in the middle frame. Roland McKeown threaded a shot home from the point midway through the period, then Max McCormick banged a rebound in just 37 seconds later to tie things up.

Charlotte’s offense kept rolling in the third as Julien Gauthier forced his way around the Springfield defense and slid a puck five hole to give the home squad its first lead of the night seven minutes in.

The Checkers held tight to that lead for nearly the remainder of regulation, but the Thunderbirds finally broke through inside of the final minute to force things to overtime. The extra frame featured early chances on both sides, but it was Daniel Audette who notched the deciding goal, beating a charging Anton Forsberg to a loose puck and giving Springfield the victory.

QUOTES

Coach Ryan Warsofsky on the overtime goal
When it’s three-on-three, you try to create offense when you get an odd-man rush. It looked like we had something going there for a minute, but we were a minute into our shift and I think we were just trying to force something. At certain times in that game we were trying to force plays. We were trying to force a play and made a bad read.

Warsofsky on how the team played as a whole
I thought it was not our best. Not as good or as sharp as we were last night. We had a tough start, obviously, but we bounced back. I thought our second period was really good. The third period was good until the last five minutes or so, but we were soft on pucks along the walls. We’ve got to learn how to play with a lead. We’ve got to learn how to play in certain situations and where you are on the ice has to get better.

Warsofsky on Max McCormick
He’s a competitor and wants to win. You can see it on the bench in his body language. He cares. He’s a warrior. He gets to the net on that second goal, which is what we’ve been talking about, so he’s obviously coachable. I think his best hockey is ahead of him for sure.

Warsofsky on Julien Gauthier
Goat was good. When he has the puck and he has speed he’s hard to defend because he’s so big, he’s so fast and powerful. The goals are bonuses for me. We’re working on the other side of his game, and I think that’s coming around.

Warsofsky on getting three out of four points on the weekend
I think you could probably say it’s a step in the right direction for our work ethic, but if we want to do great things we have to learn from this so it doesn’t happen again. That’s really the bottom line.

Max McCormick on the game
I think we had a slow start but it was great that we were able to get back in the game and take the lead. It was just unfortunate that we weren’t able to hang onto it in the third.

McCormick on the team’s work ethic
That’s something that was lacking at times in our game – just a little bit of inconsistency. Those are things you’ve got to bring every night at this level or you’re not going to win games. We had a good week of practice and I thought we carried that into the games for the most part.

McCormick on giving up the late lead
You’ve got to learn from that last minute there, mature from it and be able to hang onto those leads in the future because those points are big at the end of the season.

NOTES

The Checkers remain at the .500 mark with a record of 5-5-2 on the season. They have earned points in three of their last four … McCormick recorded his first multi-point game of the season (1g, 1a) … McKeown’s first goal of the season extended his point streak to three games (1g, 2a) … Gauthier’s fifth goal of the season ties him with Eetu Luostarinen for the team lead … The Checkers’ four shorthanded goals allowed are tied for the league lead … The Checkers are perfect on the penalty kill in their last four games (18-for-18). Combining this weekend’s games and an earlier match-up in Springfield, the checkers are also 18-for-18 against the Thunderbirds this season … Forward Stelio Mattheos and defenseman Fredrik Claesson missed the game due to injury … Defenseman Derek Sheppard was a healthy extra.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.