NORTH CHARLESTON, SC—The Charlotte Checkers opened the 2009-10 preseason with a 5-3 win over the defending Kelly Cup Champion South Carolina Stingrays on Friday evening. The game was the first in a home-and-home exhibition series with the second game being played tomorrow in Indian Trail, N.C.
The Checkers got on the board 22 seconds into the contest after forcing a turnover at the South Carolina blueline. Chris Capraro converted a pass from Matt Schepke, beating Stingrays goaltender Todd Ford for the first goal of the preseason.
Charlotte killed three straight penalties to end the first period and the score remained 1-0 until Stingrays forward Keith Johnson scored his team’s first of the preseason early in the second frame.
The Checkers would then benefit from a 5-on-3 power play as former Columbia Inferno and ECHL All-Star Tyler Doig netted his first goal at 4:41 of the second period. Ryan Garlock, also a former all-star, and rookie Trevor Glass, brother of ex-Checker goaltender Jeff Glass, picked up assists on the play.
Charlotte then went ahead by two as rookie forward Chris Chappell scored a shorthanded goal at 6:49 of the second period. Ryan Hillier forced a turnover and fired a shot at Ford before Chappell banged home the rebound. The assist was Hillier’s second of the night.
South Carolina would answer back on goals by rookie defenseman David Grimson and former Checker Lyon Messier.
At 4:33 of the third period, Matt Schepke scored his first of the preseason, which proved to be the game-winner. Charlotte would then add an insurance marker two minutes later on a goal by rookie forward Jean-Philipp Chabot.
Checkers goaltenders Ryan Munce and Billy Sauer combined for 29 saves on 32 shots while Steve Bounds and Todd Ford combined for 22 saves on 27 shots in a losing effort.
The second game of the home-and-home series will take place tomorrow, Oct. 10, at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, N.C. Doors open at noon and puck drop is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.