The Charlotte Checkers topped the Belleville Senators 4-2, returning home to Bojangles’ Coliseum after nearly a month on the road and breaking their four game losing streak. Janne Kuokkanen earned a four point night and Aleksi Saarela had a pair of goals.
Ethan Werek got the Senators on the board around two minutes into the game from a snap shot from between the circles that beat Alex Nedeljkovic up high. Max Reinhart tacked on another goal less than a minute later to put Belleville up a pair.
Charlotte quickly responded on the power play after Brenden Kichton fired a slap shot from the point that found its way in for his first goal of the season. Nicolas Roy and Janne Kuokkanen earned assists on the play. Kuokkanen almost tied the game when he redirected a pass late in the period but Chris Driedger made a big glove save.
Early in the second period, Nedeljkovic misplayed a puck that led to a chance from the Senators but a sharp defensive unit saved the Checkers from going down 3-1. Andrew Miller stormed in the offensive zone on a breakaway midway through the period but hit the post. Aleksi Saarela eventually did tie the game up at two, on a power-play one timer off a beautiful cross ice feed from Kuokkanen. Trevor Carrick also earned an assist on Saarela’s goal, but Belleville almost took back the lead when Gabriel Gagne broke into the offensive zone for a chance. A sharp poke check from Nedeljkovic kept the game tied.
A minute into the third period, Saarela received a pass off the boards and turned on the jets to generate a two-on-none chance with Patrick Brown. Saarela sent a one handed pass to Brown but Driedger made a big stop to keep the game tied.
Finally, the Checkers took the lead. A ferocious forecheck forced a turnover and Kuokkanen fed Saarela from behind the net, and Saarela fired a quick wrist shot over Driedger’s blocker side for his second goal of the night. Kuokkanen added an empty netter to cap off a four point night.
Kuokkanen has been on a tear as of late, with eight points (two goals, six assists) in five games, and Saarela has three goals of his own in the last two games. The two teams will face off for a rematch on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Checkers will then turn their attention to the Providence Bruins who come into town on Saturday and Sunday. Canes Country will have coverage of the series with the Bruins.