CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers fell behind by four goals and mounted a late-game comeback but were unable to pull it off as they dropped a 5-4 thriller to the Kalamazoo Wings on Sunday. Charlotte outshot the Wings 49-22 but goaltender Jeremy Duchesne made several key saves for the victory.
Charlotte opened the scoring just over four minutes into the game on a slap shot by defenseman Julien Brouillette. Brouillette took a pass from Kenny Roche and, with the help of a screen by Andrew Carroll, beat Duchesne.
The lead wouldn’t last long as Kalamazoo would reply with a power play goal by rookie forward Trent Daavettila just over five minutes later. Daavettila took a pass from Brian McGuirk and deflected the puck past Checkers goaltender Billy Sauer.
Kalamazoo increased their lead to 3-1 with two quick goals a minute and 17 seconds apart early in the second period. Wings leading scorer Rick Cleaver beat a Checkers defenseman one-on-one and fired the puck past Sauer for his team-leading eighth goal of the season. Forward Bryan Jurynec then scored on a shot that deflected off a Checkers defender.
The Wings would keep coming as Mathieu Curadeau skated down the left-side boards and fired a shot over the shoulder of Sauer. The goal came at the 11:32 mark of the second period and was assisted by Andrew Fournier and Rick Cleaver. Sauer was pulled and Miika Wiikman would come into the game in relief.
Just over six minutes into the third frame, Kalamazoo would make it a 5-1 game on a goal by Darryl Lloyd.
Midway through the third period, and after another Kalamazoo goal, Charlotte would answer back with two quick tallies to bring the score to 5-3. Rookie forward Matt Schepke skated around the net and tucked home his third of the season before Chris Chappell banged home a rebound just 25 seconds later.
Charlotte would then cut the Wings lead to 5-4 on a power-play goal by Kenny Roche. The Checkers then pressed, firing all they could at Duchesne but it wasn’t enough as Kalamazoo hung on for the win.
The Checkers (4-3-1-0) will now prepare for the East Division-leading Elmira Jackals (7-1-1-0) on Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.