Connor Brickley
It took a little longer than they would have liked, but the Checkers were able to pull off another win over the Ontario Reign, picking up a weekend sweep.

After a strong start that yielded no goals, the Checkers finally broke through in the middle frame, with Kris Newbury finishing a Philip Samuelsson dish into the gaping net early on and Andrew Miller capitalizing on a breakaway chance later. Ontario would cut into that lead right away in the third period, however, and continued to press the Checkers. Handed a power play late in regulation, the Reign took advantage to even the score, with leading scorer Jonny Brodzinski firing a wrist shot off the far post and in to force the contest into overtime.

The Checkers weren’t content with their one point in the standings, though, and wasted no time ending things in the extra frame. Breaking in from the left side, Andrew Poturalski launched a shot into Ontario netminder Jeff Zatkoff, but was able to poke the rebound through enough for Connor Brickley to launch into the net, sending the Checkers home with their fourth straight victory.

QUOTES

Head coach Ulf Samuelsson on the weekend sweep:
“It’s almost a must for us to get in the race. We’re behind, so we’re slowly putting ourselves in a position where it’s a battle for a playoff spot. It’s very exciting, and the boys are having fun with it.”

Andrew Miller on the weekend sweep:
“In this league, more than not, it’s hard to sweep a team. The averages are that if win the first game you’ve got to have a good start in the second because they’re going to be coming out flying. It was nice to get a lead and they had a good goal late, but overtime worked well for us.”

Samuelsson on his team’s play:
“I thought we played another two really good periods. In the first and the second we really were in control and played well. We couldn’t quite get up to our level in the third but managed to stay in it and give us a chance for a nice OT win, so it was nice.”

Connor Brickley on the overtime winner:
“We just wanted to keep our speed up and communicate in the d-zone. You kind of wait for an opportunity, whether it’s a missed shot or they have guys below the dots, and you want to take advantage of it. Fleury made a good play to wind the puck up behind the net, and we got a little odd-man rush. Pots made a good play to get the puck on net and we were fortunate to get the rebound.”

Samuelsson on planning for overtime:
“We’ve been working on three-on-three quite a bit with looking at the goals scored in the NHL and how the chances are given up. We have a pretty firm game plan when it comes to three-on-three.”

Samuelsson on whether he’ll have a full slate of forwards for the Iowa series:
“I think it depends on our health and also the Hurricanes’ situation.”

Brickley on the playoff push:
“Obviously we have an idea of where we’re at, but at this point in the season with where we are right now, we just try to focus on our locker room. One game at a time, one shift at a time and try to get as many points as possible.”

NOTES

The Checkers won their fourth straight game, which trails only a six-game run from Oct. 28-Nov. 11 for the team’s longest of the season … The team moved within two points of Iowa with one game in hand, though Iowa’s Saturday game was still in progress … Brickley extended his goal streak to four games, which is a new career long and the longest by a Checker this season. He scored the game-winning goal in three straight games and has nine points (6g, 3a) in his last nine games … Newbury’s goal gave him seven points (4g, 3a) in his last 11 games since Feb. 19 … The game featured just four total penalty minutes, setting a new Checkers record for fewest by both teams in a single game. The Checkers did not have a power play opportunity for the first time since March 22, 2015 … Andrew Miller now has 15 points (5g, 10a) in his last 11 games … Andrew Poturalsk’s assist on the overtime goal gave him sole possession of second among AHL rookies with 46 points … The Checkers improved to 6-4 in games decided during the three-on-three overtime … Tom McCollum made 24 saves to improve to 3-0-0 as a Checker … Tyler Ganly, normally a defenseman, played forward after an injury to Clark Bishiop the previous night left the Checkers short … Forwards Bryan Bickell, Kyle Hagel, Erik Karlsson and Danny Kristo and goaltender Michael Leighton also missed the game due to injury.

UP next

The Checkers’ home stand continues Tuesday as they kick off a critical two-game series against Iowa, the team currently ahead of them in the Central Division standings.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.

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