CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Checkers hot streak stayed alive with a 3-2 win over the Providence Bruins in a game riddled with penalties. Alex Nedeljkovic made 27 saves in the win and earned third-star recognition.
The two teams traded chances early but it was Providence who had the first real attempt. Ryan Donato was pulled down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. However, Nedeljkovic held his ground and took away time and space and Donato could not convert. Trevor Carrick scored on the power play with a clean shot from the point with traffic in front. While a man down, Checkers forward Saku Maenalanen forced a turnover at the blueline and the puck eventually made its way to Michal Cajkovsky, who fired a shot home to put the Checkers up 2-0.
Less than one minute into the second period, recently demoted Phil Di Giuseppe and Providence’s Connor Clifton dropped the gloves and fought. Di Giuseppe was awarded a ten minute game misconduct after the tussle.
Later in the period, Cliff Pu was whistled for slashing which lead to a Providence power play opportunity. Peter Cehlarik was able to strike on a shot that Nedeljkovic wanted back. Providence, energized by the goal, played well through the middle part of the period. Charlotte were awarded multiple power play opportunities but failed to convert. Nedeljkovic was forced to make a tough shorthanded save with around five minutes to go in the period that would have tied the game. Charlotte was 1-for-8 on power play opportunities through two periods. Roland McKeown was called for slashing with just 40 seconds left in the middle frame.
Providence started the third still on the power play and Maenalanen took a slashing penalty which gave the Bruins a 45 second 5-on-3 power play. Nedeljkovic made a glove save on a shot from the point as time expired on McKeown’s penalty. The Checkers penalty kill unit finished the job and Charlotte evaded without any harm done.
After the penalty was killed, Janne Kuokkanen had a chance but was denied by Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre. The Checkers beat McIntyre later in the period after Andrew Poturalski scored on a nice shot on a breakaway. Martin Necas assisted on the goal after having an otherwise quiet night.
Providence struck back and made things interesting after Ryan Fitzgerald deflected a pass past Nedeljkovic’s outstretched pad. Nedeljkovic redeemed himself with a pad save with around 6 minutes to go on a one-time opportunity from Providence that looked like a sure goal.
Resurgent second-year forward Julien Gauthier then took a slashing penalty with just over five minutes to go in the game but the Checkers penalty kill was able to come up big. With 3:19 to go, Providence took a holding penalty and followed it up with another penalty with 2:53 to go to kill any chance of a comeback. Providence pulled their goalie with less than a minute to go but to no avail. Charlotte held on for their tenth win of the season.
Charlotte will have a few days of rest and practice before playing three games in three nights this upcoming weekend.
- Martin Necas slammed his stick on the bench in the second period after failing to convert a power play opportunity. He’s got just a goal and two assists since being sent down despite being on a power play unit that has received many chances over the past few games.
- Julien Gauthier looked strong again despite not factoring in on the score sheet. Only a matter of time until he strikes again.
- The Montreal Canadiens scout next to me had lots of notes on Checkers forward Morgan Geekie. He’s been a big help to Charlotte, coming into the match-up with five goals and three assists. Carey Price for Geekie? Discuss
Vellucci on Necas’ play since being demoted: “I think he’s frustrated a little bit, trying to do too much and put up a bunch of points. I want to see him slow the game down a little bit. He’s got too much energy right now...slow it down a little bit and good things will happen.”— #WhyNot? (@LankyLape) November 4, 2018
Vellucci on Di Giuseppe since being demoted: “Everybody knows he’s a leader. He’s just trying to get his legs back. He hasn’t played at all really and it’s very tough for anyone coming back and then jump right into the line-up.”— #WhyNot? (@LankyLape) November 4, 2018
Despite all the wins, Vellucci says no win celebration in the Checkers future— #WhyNot? (@LankyLape) November 4, 2018