CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers forced overtime with a third period goal then scored in the extra frame to down Gwinnett, 2-1, in the last ever ECHL regular season game at Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday.
With the win, the Checkers take the season series against Gwinnett with a 12-4-2 record over 18 head-to-head matches and grab a three-point lead over South Carolina and Kalamazoo for first place in the American Conference. Charlotte has won 11 of its last 12 games overall.
Andrew Carroll scored the overtime winner, his sixth game-winning goal of the season. Carroll now leads the ECHL with 12 combined shootout and overtime winners and leads the Checkers with 29 goals.
Ryan Munce stopped 30 of 31 shots for his 10th win in 11 starts. Munce now ranks second in the ECHL with 25 wins and leads the league with a .912 save percentage. His 10 wins in March make him a shoe-in candidate for ECHL goaltender of the month.
The Checkers carried the play for the better half of the first period but Gwinnett goaltender David Brown turned everything aside keeping it a scoreless game heading into the second.
Gwinnett opened the scoring seven minutes into the second period on a goal by forward Matt Caruana. Tom Zanoski carried the puck down low and slid a pass through the legs of a Checkers defender which was one-timed by Caruana along the ice and past Munce.
With less than two minutes to play in the period, Devin DiDiomete was assessed a misconduct penalty and the Checkers were forced to kill a four-minute Gladiators power play. Charlotte’s defenders blocked several good scoring chances and Munce shut the door as the game remained 1-0 in Gwinnett’s favor.
Early in the third period, Matt Stefanishion broke in the zone and fired a shot at Brown that was stopped and redirected to Berube at the point. Berube faked a shot to step around a Gwinnett defender and let a wrist shot go that beat the Gwinnett goaltender on the short side.
Later in the period, the Gladiators applied pressure and hit Munce with several shots but the Charlotte netminder stopped them all, including an acrobatic, diving pad save.
The Checkers failed to convert on a late power play and the two teams prepared for an overtime period.
In the extra frame, Gwinnett forward Pat Galivan fed a pass over to Zanoski but Munce slid across the crease and denied the Gladiators the win with an impressive split save.
A short time later, Tyler Doig carried the puck into the Gwinnett zone and skated around a tumbling defender. Doig then took the puck down low and dished it in front to Carroll who banged it home for the win.
The Checkers (42-21-7) will travel to Florida this weekend for two games before returning next week to host a pair of playoff games. Playoff dates will be announced shortly and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com. Season tickets for the inaugural 2010-11 AHL season are now on sale and 40-game packages start as low as $200.
Notes: Saturday’s crowd of 12,044 was the largest in the entire ECHL this season…The Checkers are 16-3-1 in their last 20 home games and are 11-1-0 in their last 12 overall…Ryan Munce is 10-1-0 in his last 11 starts and leads the ECHL with a .912 save percentage…Kenny Roche is currently on a six-game point streak (3g, 7a)…Andrew Carroll leads the ECHL with six shootout-winning goals and leads the Checkers with 29 goals…Julien Brouillette and Derek Couture are up with Hartford (AHL), Kenny Roche is with Providence (AHL), Ethan Graham is with Texas (AHL) while Matt Ford and Randy Rowe are with Lake Erie (AHL)…Codey Burki, Chris Chappell, Trevor Glass, T.J. Reynolds and Chris Snavely are on the 21-day injured reserve.
Gwinnett Gladiators 1 At Charlotte Checkers 2 (OT) - Status: Final OT
Mar 30, 2010 - Time Warner Cable Arena
Gwinnett 0 1 0 0 - 1
Charlotte 0 0 1 1 - 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Forney Gwt (slashing , slashing ), 9:32; DiDiomete Chr (roughing), 9:32; Stefanishion Chr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:32.
2nd Period-1, Gwinnett, Caruana 13 (Galivan, Zanoski), 7:09. Penalties-DiDiomete Chr (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct - disputing decision, misconduct, game misconduct - abuse of officials), 18:34.
3rd Period-2, Charlotte, Berube 3 (Roche, Stefanishion), 2:44. Penalties-Galivan Gwt (interference on the goalkeeper), 8:23; Doig Chr (slashing ), 13:58; Roberts Gwt (holding), 18:42.
OT Period-3, Charlotte, Carroll 29 (Ward, Doig), 4:32. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Gwinnett 8-14-7-2-31. Charlotte 9-10-12-5-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Gwinnett 0 of 3; Charlotte 0 of 2.
Goalies-Gwinnett, Brown 10-16-3-0 (36 shots-34 saves). Charlotte, Munce 25-14-2-1 (31 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Joe Sullivan (4).
Linesmen-Mathieu Chenier (71), Paul Reid (97).