CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers took an early lead before surrendering four unanswered goals as they were downed, 4-1, by the Norfolk Admirals in the preseason finale Sunday afternoon at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, N.C.
Jon Matsumoto scored the lone goal for Charlotte while second-year goaltender Mike Murphy stopped 35 shots in a losing effort. Mike Angelidis, a member of the Albany River Rats last season, led the way offensively for the Admirals with three assists.
Charlotte opened the scoring early on a goal by Matsumoto. Jerome Samson, who led Albany in scoring in 2009-10, made a nifty move down low at the right wall and fed a pass out front to Matsumoto who switched to his backhand and beat Admirals’ goaltender Dustin Tokarski. The goal came at 2:34 of the first period and Kyle Lawson picked up the extra assist.
Minutes later, Checkers defensemen Kyle Lawson and Zack Fitzgerald were handed back-to-back penalties giving Norfolk a 5-on-3 man advantage for 1:17. Murphy stood strong and defenseman Casey Borer made a diving save as time wound down on the penalties, preserving the one-goal lead.
With three minutes to play in the period, Admirals forward Matt Fornataro converted a rebound in front from a turnaround shot by Paul Szczechura to make it 1-1.
Murphy again drew applause early in the second frame when he stopped Szczechura with two point blank saves, keeping it a 1-1 game.
The Admirals would then take their first lead of the preseason eight minutes into the second period. Forward Mitch Fadden took a pass in the neutral zone, beat a Checkers defender and broke in alone on Murphy before deking the Charlotte netminder and backhanding the puck into the open goal.
Then with less than two minutes to play in the period, Norfolk doubled its lead when defenseman Mark Barberio took a pass in the slot and rifled a wrist shot over the glove of Murphy. The goal came at 18:18 and was assisted by Kevin Quick and former Albany River Rats forward Mike Angelidis.
Charlotte had plenty of offensive chances early in the third period but could not seem to solve Admirals goaltender Dustin Tokarski.
Norfolk then added some insurance when forward Juraj Simek took a harmless looking shot which deflected off a Charlotte defender’s stick and into the net past Murphy. The goal came at 16:09 of the third period, putting the game out of reach as the Admirals skated away with a 4-1 victory.
The Checkers will trim their roster and finish up training camp before Saturday’s season opener in Hartford. The team will then return for the home opener on Friday, Oct. 15 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Season ticket packages start as low as $10 per game and can be purchased through the Checkers’ front office by calling 704-342-4423.