The Charlotte Checkers’ winning streak came to an end as the Checkers dropped a 4-3 decision in overtime on Tuesday. Checkers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 23 of 27 shots.
In the first period, the Comets pressed early with a strong forecheck to put pressure on the Checkers defense. Nedeljkovic made some early saves to keep the Checkers in it. The Comets were gifted a power play opportunity around five minutes in after Greg McKegg was whistled for high-sticking. Utica was not able to capitalize and the Checkers were gifted a power play chance of their own around 10 minutes in.
Charlotte was not able to get much going on the man-advantage and the Comets raced into the offensive zone but were not able to capitalize as the puck skipped over the forward’s stick. The scoreless tie was broken when Brendan Gaunce scored on the power play on a tap-in with around three minutes to play in the period.
Things didn’t start as expected in the second period as the Comets would go up 2-0 after defenseman Evan McEneny scored on a one time from the right circle. The Checkers seemed to flip a switch after Utica’s second goal. Charlotte pressed hard and peppered Utica goalie Thatcher Demko with shots. They finally found the back after the net thanks to Jake Bean’s wrist shot from the left circle that beat Demko cleanly on his blocker side. Nicolas Roy delivered a clean pass to Bean after battling for a puck in the corner. Martin Necas was credited with the secondary assist.
Later in the period, Jake Bean forced a turnover and passed it to Morgan Geekie who got a piece of it which turned out to be enough. The puck flipped into the air and glanced of the back of Demko and into the net to tie the game at two apiece.
Both teams exchanged chances in the early minutes of the third period. Neither team got much sustained offensive zone pressure. Aleksi Saarela whiffed on a wide-open rebound opportunity with around 12 minutes to go that would have given the Checkers the advantage.
The tie was finally broken with around six minutes to go as Saarela drove into the offensive zone and slide the puck between Demko’s pads. Bean recorded another point on the goal, giving him a three-point night. The Checkers were granted a power play shortly after Saarela’s goal which helped drain a bit of the remaining clock left. Demko was pulled with 1:14 to go and the Comets tied with 53 seconds left as Reid Boucher fired a shot into the wide open net after Nedeljkovic moved out of position.
Less than a minute into overtime, Aleksi Saarela charged in for a 2-on-1 opportunity but hit the post after beating Demko on his glove side. Midway through the extra period, Nedeljkovic attempted to clear it and instead passed the puck right into a defender. Darren Archibald scored on the ensuing 2-on-1 opportunity to give the Comets the win.
The Checkers will take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at home on Friday at 7 p.m.