CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Checkers winning streak ended at two games and their point streaks ended at three after suffering a 5-1 loss to the Belleville Senators on Tuesday. Rudolfs Bacers and Jack Rodewald each scored a pair of goals to lead the way for the Senators.
The Checkers began the first period with sloppy play. Aleksi Saarela turned the puck over early but hunted down a Senators forward on a breakaway to keep the game scoreless. Alex Nedeljkovic looked sharp early, stopping rebound chances and thwarting a breakaway attempt. Fortunately, the Checkers power play is adequate. Valentin Zykov forced a shot in from the slot past Senators goalie Filip Gustavsson on assists from Janne Kuokkanen and Jake Bean.
But Belleville tied the game after sustained pressure in the Checkers offensive zone. A flurry of shots caught Nedeljkovic off balance and Balcers beat Nedeljkovic while he was sliding on his glove side. Defenseman Christian Wolanin added an assist on the play to add to his impressive start. The Checkers were outshot 15-6 in the period.
Charlotte was heavily outskated and outworked in the first ten minutes of the second period. They were able to kill off two early penalties mostly in part to the Senators not generating high danger chances. Most of Belleville’s shot attempts early in the period were from outside the circles.
Later in the period, a defensive error by the Checkers along the left circle let Senators forward Jack Rodewald walk in uncontested and lift the puck over Nedeljkovic’s outstretched glove to put Belleville up 2-1. With less than a minute remaining in the period, Rodewald finished off tic-tac-toe passing in front of the net to put Belleville up 3-1 heading into the third period.
Belleville didn’t let up there. Balcers scored his second of the game on breakaway after a Checkers turnover to put the Senators up 4-1. Francois Beauchemin put Belleville up 5-1 on an unassisted wrist shot and Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci determined he had enough and yanked Nedeljkovic in place for Callum Booth. Belleville’s defense played a strong third period by forcing Charlotte to shot from alongside the side boards. Charlotte couldn’t must much on a late power play and they suffered their biggest loss of the season so far.
Vellucci minced no words in excoriating his team’s performance:
Vellucci on the team’s effort tonight: “It was embarassing in front of our home crowd. Absolutely no excuses. Not one guy was good tonight.”— #WhyNot? (@LankyLape) November 21, 2018
Vellucci on teams effort in front of Nedeljkovic: “He played fine...It has nothing to do with Ned. That game could have been 10-0 in the first period.”— #WhyNot? (@LankyLape) November 21, 2018
The Checkers and the Senators will face off again tomorrow in Charlotte at 7 p.m. Charlotte is off Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.