In a grinding game with not much offense, the Charlotte Checkers earned their third straight victory with a 3-1 win over the Laval Rocket. Charlotte rookie goaltender Callum Booth made 26 saves in the win.
Early in the first period, Janne Kuokkanen danced into the offensive zone with a shimmy and a shake to give Charlotte their first opportunity of the game. The scoring chances were slim in the first nine minutes of the game with both teams mustering just three shots on goal between them.
The Checkers went on the power play when a Laval player made contact with Checkers goalie Callum Booth and, on the ensuing 5-on-3 opportunity, Aleksi Saarela sniped a shot from the circle to put Charlotte up 1-0. The goal was Saarela’s fifth in five games after scoring just two in his first 16 games. The first-period tally extended Saarela’s point streak to three games after a multi-point night in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Laval.
Saarela with an absolute snipe for his 7th goal in 13 games. He has 13 points in his last 13 games. He's on fire after the slow start. pic.twitter.com/X8vwO4NhFO— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) November 25, 2018
Later in the period, Laval forward Michael McCarron scored on an odd-man rush after a Charlotte defensive lapse.
Charlotte exchanged chances with Laval in the second period but the Rocket played a better period. The Rocket heavily outshot the Checkers 11-2 in the second but Booth remained strong. He received a little bit of help from the Charlotte defense after defenseman Dennis Robertson swatted a puck off the goal line to keep the game tied after good pressure by the Laval offense on the power play.
The Checkers came out with more energy in the third and quickly re-established their forecheck. After a strong counter forecheck by Laval, the Rocket challenged a play with around six minutes in. Replay confirmed the puck did not cross the goal line and the score remained at one apiece. With 9:44 to go in the period, Martin Necas cleaned up a rebound to give Charlotte the lead. Nicolas Roy and Kuokkanen were credited with assists on the goal.
Martin Necas stays hot. He buries the rebound and puts the Checkers up 2-1 in the third period. pic.twitter.com/vV6R8RFeMp— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) November 25, 2018
Charlotte played a laid back style in the final few minutes before Laval pulled back-up goalie Michael McNiven for the extra skater. Booth made a big save on the goal line with 48 seconds to go to keep that game at 2-1 and preserve the win for Charlotte. Roland McKeown added an empty-net goal for good measure with a second left.
Charlotte will get a few days rest before taking on the Providence Bruins on the road on Friday at 7:05 p.m. The game against the Bruins will kickoff a five-game road trip before the Checkers return home on December 13th for a six-game homestand.
Booth on if the team is getting more confident as the season goes on, wins pile up: “Yeah, definitely. I think confidence definitely comes with hard work and we are working hard in practice and that’s really showing up in our play out there.”— #WhyNot? (@LankyLape) November 25, 2018
Booth says he is learning a bunch from Nedeljkovic and says he’s one of a kind when it comes to playing the puck as a goalie.— #WhyNot? (@LankyLape) November 25, 2018
Vellucci on Booth’s play today: “I was impressed with his game today, more than the other games he’s played for us. He was a lot calmer in net and made some big saves when he had to.”— #WhyNot? (@LankyLape) November 25, 2018