Charlotte Checkers Iowa Wild
The Checkers weren’t able to recreate the offensive fireworks of one night prior as they concluded a back-to-back set in Iowa with a 2-1 loss on Saturday.

Team captain Derek Ryan scored on a shorthanded breakaway in the first period to net the Checkers’ only goal. The result dropped the team to 1-3-0 on the season heading into its home-opening series against the Grand Rapids Griffins at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Friday and Saturday.

Charlotte has now scored a total of five goals in its three losses, which is the same amount that it scored in the first period of its only win, an 8-3 romp over the Wild on Friday. The opposing goaltender took first-star honors in two of the Checkers’ losses, including a 35-save effort by Iowa’s Alex Stalock in this particular contest.

Though they took longer to break through this time, the Checkers appeared to show signs of keeping their newfound offensive touch through Ryan’s opener near the end of the first period. With Brendan Woods in the box for hooking, Brock McGinn broke up an Iowa rush in the neutral zone and knocked the puck forward for Ryan, who rushed up ice and beat Alex Stalock for the early lead.

The goal at 15:10 of the first period was already the Checkers’ second shorthanded tally of the season, putting them in a three-way tie for the league lead.

After getting burned on Ryan’s goal, Iowa’s power play exacted revenge via Grayson Downing’s equalizer that came after Charlotte’s rookie netminder, Alex Nedeljkovic, had turned aside several good chances. The Wild would go on to take the lead for good in the second period on a sequence of sustained pressure made possible in part by Checkers defenseman Jake Chelios’ broken stick.

Stalock, who had spent much of the last three seasons in the NHL with San Jose, preserved the lead with several good stops down the stretch, including a point-blank save on an otherwise wide-open Charlotte’s Valentin Zykov on the doorstep.

NOTES

Ryan, an AHL All-Star last season, now has five points (3g, 2a) in four games this season, making him one of three Checkers scoring at a point-per-game pace or better (Andrew Poturalski, Patrick Brown) … Poturalski, who leads the team and is tied for first among AHL rookies in scoring, and linemate Brown did not record a point for the first time this season … The Checkers are 2-for-20 (10 percent) on the power play this season … Chelios and rookie defenseman Roland McKeown served as alternate captains as the Checkers continued a rotation that has seen two new players do so each game … Forwards Kyle Hagel and Erik Karlsson and defensemen Dennis Robertson and Josh Wesley were healthy extras.
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.