Checkers Rally Late, Fall Short To Portland

The Checkers returned to Time Warner Cable Arena with confidence after taking 3 of 4 points on their most recent road series. Returning in front of their home fans, the Checkers were eager to give Atlantic Division leader Portland a run for their money on Tuesday night.

Mike Murphy went the distance for the Checkers and was tested early by the Portland Pirates forwards. Early in the game, Pirates center Luke Adam slipped a wrist shot by Murphy to give the Pirates an early lead.

After falling behind, Checkers forward Nicolas Blanchard showed toughness when he dropped the gloves with former Albany River Rat teammate, Tim Conboy. The fight occurred a little over 2 minutes into the game, and got the Charlotte crowd energized.

The Checkers got the equalizer shortly after Blanchard dropped the gloves. On the powerplay, winger Chris Terry hit post. The bounce was a friendly one this time however, and the puck found twine behind Pirates goaltender David Leggio.

The tying goal was answered by a couple of physical shifts for Portland. Checkers defenseman Zack Fitzgerald kept the momentum on the Checkers side when he dropped the gloves for the second fight of the first period.

Special teams turned out to be a key factor late in the first period. Portland was put on the powerplay twice, and failed to capitalize. The Checkers forced Portland into a conga line to the penalty box when newly assigned center Zac Dalpe rushed into the Portland zone on a breakaway and drew a penalty. The first penalty was followed by a goaltender interference penalty which gave the Checkers 56 agonizing seconds of 2 man advantage time. Failing to score, the Checkers kept at it, and drew a slashing penalty, which rewarded them with 29 more seconds of 5 on 3 time. The Checkers however failed to score, and the period came to a close.

Coming out of the gate quickly in the second period, Oskar Osala flew in on a breakaway about six minutes into the period. The puck glanced off of Leggio, and center Nick Dodge was there as the trailer to put the puck home and give the Checkers the lead.

The lead was a short lived one however, as Portland followed the bouncing puck en route to a flukey looking goal that knotted things back up at 2.

Late in the period, Portland defenseman Dennis Persson pinched and spun into the zone in front of Mike Murphy. The puck came off his stick and deflected off of winger Derek Whitmore to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead; a lead they would hold until much later.

The Checkers, who desperately needed an equalizing goal, thought they had the game tied up thanks to Jared Staal. The large framed Staal was parked out in front of Leggio, and deflected an Oskar Osala shot into the net. The goal was quickly waved off by the officials, and ruled to be batted in with a high stick.

The Checkers showed great resolve late in the period however.

After being put on a timely powerplay, the Checkers began to smell a tied hockey game. Mike Murphy was forced to make a sparkling shorthanded save, but seconds after, he was pulled to give the Checkers a two man advantage with the powerplay. The puck was cleared out with around 20 seconds left, and the Checkers started the breakout. Newly assigned Checkers forward Drayson Bowman glided into the zone, hit Jerome Samson with a pass, and Samson took care of the rest. Samson found Chris Terry between the faceoff circles, and Terry tied the game with less than one second remaining.

The clock at Time Warner Cable Arena read .5 seconds after the goal. There would be overtime hockey at home for the Checkers for the first time all season.

The teams traded shots for the entire overtime period. With about a minute remaining, offsetting penalties were called. A hooking penalty was called against Portland, but a diving penalty was the equalizer against the Checkers. The 3 on 3 scenario raged on, and Dalpe found himself on another breakaway, only to shoot the puck just high.

The game rolled on to a shootout. Drayson Bowman shot first fo the homestanding Checkers and was stopped by Leggio. Portland’s Luke Adam answered with a successful shot on Murphy. After stopping Chris Terry, Leggio was beaten by Zac Dalpe to tie the shootout at 1 a piece. Pirates forward Corey Tropp scored on Murphy, and Brian Rodney was stopped by Leggio to end the game.

The Checkers walked away with a point for their efforts to force overtime, and showed great resolve and character in this rough loss.


+ Zac Dalpe was an explosive offensive force. Dalpe was reassigned to Charlotte by the NHL Carolina Hurricanes. In his first AHL game of the year, he created 2 breakaways (one in overtime), drew a big time penalty, and even got a shootout call. Although he did not score.

+Jerome Samson worked hard, got a big assist on the late tying goal.

+Chris Terry- a consensus first star. His two powerplay tallies helped fuel the Checkers, including his late game heroics.

- Jacob Micfliker struggled defensively.

- On the Staal goal that was waved off, the stick appeared to be well below the crossbar.

Three Stars-

1. Chris Terry  2 g
2. Corey Trott 1 g 1 A
3. Mike Murphy 36 saves on 39 shots

Final Thoughts-
The Checkers showed team toughness early, and resolve and character the entire game. Battling back to tie the game and insure a point against a Pirates team that is tied with Wilkes Barre Scranton for first in the conference, is a good feather in the cap of the Checkers.

What’s Next?

CHA vs. POR  Wed. 11/3 7pm
POR @ CHA Wed 11/3 7 pm

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