Press release provided by the Charlotte Checkers
CHARLOTTE, NC - A wild second period propelled the Checkers past Rochester and claimed another home sweep for Charlotte.
After a calm, scoreless first period, Max McCormick kickstarted things with a strike less than five minutes into the period, then Derek Sheppard redirected a shot in to double that lead before the midway mark.
Things escalated two minutes later when Roland McKeown threaded a shot home from the point, leading immediately to a heavyweight fight from Sheppard, much to the enjoyment of the raucous crowd. Eleven seconds later Julien Gauthier added onto the avalanche with his 26th tally of the season, followed by a quick tuck from Dave Gust for Charlotte’s fifth goal of the period.
Rochester would eventually find some offense, netting one goal during Charlotte’s second-period flurry and another right off the bat in the third, but it wasn’t enough. Anton Forsberg came away with a stunning 42 saves on the night, helping carry the Checkers to a decisive 5-2 win.
Coach Ryan Warsofsky on the five-goal second period
We just got some momentum. After the (disallowed goal by Janne Kuokkanen), we just stuck with it. That’s kind of been our M.O. Whatever happens, we’ve just got to keep competing and playing with our identity. The guys did a good job of that.
Warsofsky on the team getting momentum
Shep scores and he gets in a scrap, the crowd gets into it and you could feed off that. You could feel it on the bench. We played with a little bit of swagger. We ride that line of emotion, which is nice to see, and it’s a group effort. We’ve had every guy these last two nights really buying in to what we’re trying to do.
Warsofsky on Rochester scoring shorthanded to start the third period
We struggle with that. For whatever reason, we sit back on our heels and give them momentum. We gave them that shorthanded goal, and that can’t happen. We’ve got to learn from it and continue to grow as a group. We’re going to keep going and keep chugging along. At the beginning of the year no one thought we were going to be any good and that we were going to have a (expletive) team, but we’re ignoring the noise and the outside. We’re just a group in there that’s going to keep working and ignore what everyone thinks of us.
Derek Sheppard on his goal
It felt good to get the monkey off the back. It’s been a long-time coming. I’ve played a bunch of regular-season games here and couldn’t seem to get one, so it felt good to finally put one in the back of the net for the team.
Sheppard on if he had every played forward in the pros prior to this season
A handful of games in the pros. I actually played junior as a forward so I kind of have an idea what I’m doing, but I’m just trying to learn every game and the guys have been great with helping me out and teaching me little tricks and things like that. I’m just trying to get better every night and help our team get some victories.
Sheppard on fighting right after McKeown’s goal
It’s part of the game. Obviously we just went up 3-0, and I have tons of respect for the guy on the other side. He offered a challenge because he’s trying to get his team going, and I’ve been on that side. I figured it wasn’t going to hurt our team and it might even keep our energy up, and then we actually scored right after it. It’s one of those things. It’s not the most fun thing or the most glorious thing to do, but to stand up for my teammates and help them feel safe and be able to play their games is something I’ve always taken pride in and I’ll continue to do it for them.
Stelio Mattheos on the team catching fire in the second period
I think the building and the fans are huge for that. It was a great atmosphere in here tonight and we’re just building off the fans. It gives us energy for sure.
Mattheos on his first home games since his cancer diagnosis last spring
It feels really good. It feels special. I’m just lucky to be on the ice and be back. Credit to my teammates and coaches for believing in me and helping me through this. I’m excited to be back.
Mattheos on his line with Sheppard and Clark Bishop
It’s been good. They’ve made it easy on me. We’re just keeping it simple, trying to give this team momentum and playing hard every shift.
The Checkers won their fifth consecutive game, making this third win streak of five or more games this season. All three have come since Dec. 22, with the Checkers posing a 15-4-0 record during that time. The team’s longest win streak of the season is six games … The Checkers are third in the Atlantic Division with at least one game in hand on all of the teams behind them … The Checkers are 9-2-1 against Rochester over the last three seasons, including 3-1-0 this season … Prior to tonight, the last time the Checkers scored five goals in a single period was on Feb. 4, 2018 … The Checkers have 23 goals in their last five games, including at least four in each … Sheppard scored his first goal of the season and second of his AHL career. The other was during last season’s playoffs … Jake Bean’s three points tied his career high set four times previously … Roland McKeown has goals in consecutive games for the first time in his career … Mattheos recorded his first points of the season in just his second game back from injury … Anton Forsberg’s 42 saves were the most by a Checkers goalie this season … Steven Lorentz extended his point streak to four games (1g, 3a) … Morgan Geekie’s franchise-record, 14-game point streak came to an end … Gauthier has 12 points (8g, 4a) in his last 10 games. He ranks third in the AHL with 26 goals in 42 games … Forwards Brian Gibbons and Colin Markison missed the game due to injury … Forwards Cedric Lacroix and Jacob Pritchard and defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald were healthy extras.
The Checkers host the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday for the team’s annual Pink In The Rink game.