CHARLOTTE, NC—The Charlotte Checkers ended a two-game losing streak with an exciting 4-2 victory over the East Division-leading Elmira Jackals. Julien Brouillette scored the game-winning goal and was named the first star of the contest in front of a home crowd of just over 6,000 at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Rookie forwards Andrew Carroll, Matt Schepke and Jean-Philipp Chabot combined for four points and Miika Wiikman stopped 22 of 24 shots for the victory. Twin brothers, and Elmira scoring leaders, Tyler and Justin Donati led the way offensively for Elmira with two points apiece and ex-Checkers goaltender Chris Holt stopped 42 shots in a losing cause.
Charlotte opened the scoring 90 seconds into the game on a great short-handed effort by rookie forward Andrew Carroll. Carroll out-muscled an Elmira defenseman behind the net, took a pass from Jean-Philipp Chabot and backhanded a shot into the top corner past Chris Holt.
Just over 10 minutes later Charlotte would add to their lead on a goal by Matt Schepke, his fourth in four games. Tyler Doig carried the puck into the zone and saucered a pass to Schepke who then tucked it in between the legs of Holt. Chabot picked up the other assist and the goal came at the 11:47 mark of the first period.
The Checkers made it a 3-0 game less than two minutes later on an incredible individual effort by defenseman Julien Brouillette. Brouillette, doing his best Bobby Orr imitation, carried the puck into the zone and dished it off before skating back to the blueline and firing a one-time slap shot past the Elmira netminder.
Elmira would get on the board less than one minute into the second period. Elmira forward Tyler Donati took a pass from Maxime Gratchev in the slot and beat Wiikman glove side for his sixth of the season.
The Jackals then cut the lead to one goal on a slap shot by Chanse Fitzpatrick. The power play tally, his team-leading 10th of the season, was assisted by both Donati brothers.
Charlotte held a 27-17 shot advantage through two periods of play.
Late in the third period, the Checkers were slapped with two penalties and went on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The Jackals pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker but were unable to solve Wiikman. As time expired on the last penalty, Checkers defenseman T.J. Reynolds sprung out of the penalty box, took a pass from Kenny Roche and shot the puck into the empty net to seal the victory.
The Checkers (5-3-1-0) will now travel to Charleston to face the Stingrays before returning to Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday to host Elmira again. Game time is 5 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.
Notes: Head Coach Derek Wilkinson (199-164-35) needs one more win for 200 career coaching victories…Michel Leveille leads the team in scoring with 11 pts (6g, 5a) in 9 games…Derek Couture remains on loan to Hartford, Matt Ford remains with Lake Erie (AHL) and defenseman Ethan Graham is with Norfolk (AHL)…Ryan Munce, Trevor Glass and Randy Rowe are all on the 21-day injured reserve.