CHARLOTTE, NC—For the second game in a row, the Charlotte Checkers packed the building and treated the sell-out crowd to a thrilling victory as they downed the Wheeling Nailers, 5-4, as part of “Race Night” on Friday evening at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Checkers fell behind by two early in the third but battled back with three straight goals for the win in front of 11,484 screaming fans. With the full house, the Checkers sold out in consecutive games for the first time since Feb., 2007.
Aaron Slattengren led the way with two goals and an assist, Daniel Tkaczuk added three assists and Ryan Munce stopped 25 of 29 for his third consecutive win.
The Checkers opened the scoring at the midway point of the first period on a point shot by Julien Brouillette. Slattengren and Kenny Roche were buzzing around the Wheeling net firing shot after shot at Nailers goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak before the puck made its way back to the point. Brouillette stepped into it and fired a laser of a shot over the shoulder of Teslak for his 10th of the season, placing him in a tie for second among all ECHL defensemen.
Charlotte would take a two-goal lead, just under three minutes later, when Daniel Tkaczuk carried the puck into the Nailers’ zone and dropped a pass to Matt Schepke in the slot. Schepke took a quick shot on net and Slattengren was there to bang home the rebound. The goal came at the 12:18 mark of the first period and was Slattengren’s third in as many games.
The Nailers then battled back with three straight goals in the second period, beginning with a Dan Henningson point shot that found its way to the back of the Checkers’ net.
Just over a minute later, Wheeling tied the game when they entered the Charlotte zone on a two-on-one. Nailers forward Chris Davis dished a saucer pass past the Checkers defender and onto the stick of T.J. Fox who then put it off the post and in for his team-leading 14th of the season.
Wheeling would add another late in the period before Fox notched his second of the game, early in the third to help the Nailers take a 4-2 lead.
Immediately after the Nailers’ goal, Checkers defenseman T.J. Reynolds decided to take the game into his own hands, literally, and dropped the gloves with Wheeling forward Ryan Schnell looking for a momentum swing.
The fight seemed to light a spark under the home team as they came flying out for the next shift and brought the game to within one on Slattengren’s second of the game. On a five-on-three power play, Michel Leveille took the puck down low and fed a cross-crease pass to Slattengren who tapped it in past Teslak.
The Checkers did not stop there, however. Just 29 seconds later, and still on the power play, Roche and Tkaczuk each took whacks at the puck in front of the net before Steve Ward skated in from the point and banged it home to tie the game at 4-4.
With less than 10 minutes to play in the game, Wheeling forward Colin Power took an untimely penalty and Charlotte went to work on the power play once again. Matt Schepke, fresh off his ECHL All-Star Game appearance, took the puck at the right-wing wall and skated in on a Nailers defenseman. Schepke then cut to the middle and, using the defender as a screen, fired it far side past Teslak for the 5-4 lead.
The Checkers would apply constant pressure and Munce turned aside the remaining two shots he faced for the victory. The Checkers earned their fifth straight win at Time Warner Cable Arena and will end up undefeated at home for the month of January (5-0-0).
Following the game, the Checkers held a jersey auction with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the USA Hockey Foundation on behalf of hometown NASCAR driver, and 2009 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, Joey Logano.
The Checkers (22-13-5) will embark on a four-game northern road swing before returning on Thursday, Feb. 4 to host the Florida Everblades Ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.
Notes: Charlotte is 13-3-1 in its last 17 home games…Andrew Carroll has seven goals and six assists in his last nine games…Michel Leveille (2g, 7a) and Daniel Tkaczuk (2g, 7a) are each on five-game point streaks …Tyler Doig ranks fifth in ECHL scoring with 48 points (11g, 37a) while Leveille ranks tied for ninth with 42 points (14g, 28a)…Julien Brouillette has eight points (4g, 4a) in his last seven games and ranks third among all ECHL defensemen with 26 points (10g, 16a)…T.J. Reynolds leads all ECHL defensemen with 168 penalty minutes, and is second in overall plus-minus with a +19 rating…Derek Couture is with Hartford (AHL) while Matt Ford and Randy Rowe are with Lake Erie (AHL)…Trevor Glass, Chris Snavely and Chris Chappell are on the 21-day injured reserve.
Wheeling Nailers 4 At Charlotte Checkers 5 - Status: Final
Jan 22, 2010 - Time Warner Cable Arena
Wheeling 0 3 1 - 4
Charlotte 2 0 3 - 5
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Brouillette 10 (Slattengren, Roche), 9:31. 2, Charlotte, Slattengren 8 (Tkaczuk, Schepke), 12:18. Penalties-Ward Chr (interference), 17:00.
2nd Period-3, Wheeling, Henningson 2 (Lord), 5:42. 4, Wheeling, Fox 14 (Davis, Clarke), 6:51. 5, Wheeling, Clarke 11 12:53. Penalties-Reynolds Chr (kneeing), 0:58; Bushee Whl (hooking), 2:33; Reynolds Chr (cross-checking), 13:38.
3rd Period-6, Wheeling, Fox 15 (Clarke, Davis), 1:15. 7, Charlotte, Slattengren 9 (Doig, Leveille), 3:35 (pp). 8, Charlotte, Ward 2 (Roche, Tkaczuk), 4:04 (pp). 9, Charlotte, Schepke 13 (Graham, Tkaczuk), 8:26 (pp). Penalties-Schnell Whl (fighting - major), 1:16; Reynolds Chr (fighting - major, game misconduct - jersey), 1:16; served by Schmidt Whl (bench - too many men), 2:46; Davis Whl (tripping), 3:28; Clarke Whl (slashing ), 6:51; Power Whl (cross-checking), 10:33; Leveille Chr (interference), 14:21; Yaworski Whl (holding), 19:18.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 9-16-4-29. Charlotte 12-13-13-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 0 of 4; Charlotte 3 of 6.
Goalies-Wheeling, Teslak 9-9-2-1 (38 shots-33 saves). Charlotte, Munce 8-7-1-0 (29 shots-25 saves).
Referees-David Lewis (16).
Linesmen-Mathieu Chenier (71), Mike Hamilton (80).