The Charlotte Checkers scored two even-strength goals, a shorthanded goal and a power play goal to defeat the Texas Stars tonight.
The second period was a game changer for Charlotte. The home team was outshot by the Stars 18-7, and had to kill three penalties. Through all this, they still found a way to score two goals. Mike Murphy, who, made a number of impressive saves during the second, and came away with his first win since early October, before he was recalled by the Hurricanes and then spent time recovering from an injury after returning to the Checkers.
Following the game, Murphy acknowledged the importance of the victory over the Texas Stars, and his contribution to the result. “It’s huge, especially to get it against one of the top teams. It’s huge for me and it’s huge for the team because we know we can beat anyone.”
Matt Pistilli, playing in only his fifth game with the Checkers this year after signing a PTO contract late last month, scored two goals and was the team’s first star. Pistilli, a familiar face to the Checkers after a PTO last year and being a part of the Hurricanes organization the previous two seasons, proved he can contribute to this hockey team.
Pistilli was enthusiastic about his contributions so far this season. “I show up every day and try and bring some energy… I want to keep building on this [two goal game]”
With two of the team’s scoring leaders Zach Boychuk and Brett Sutter currently playing in Raleigh, the Checkers are trying to find new ways to score goals.
“We need scoring by committee, and I think we saw that tonight with Pistilli getting a couple and Blanchard scoring.” Daniels continued, “If we’re going to win, it’s going to be by committee.”
Greg Nemisz played his first game for the Checkers tonight following a trade from the Calgary Flames organization. Despite not arriving in Charlotte until this morning, and not having any time to skate with his new team, he contributed immediately. In his first shift, he had opportunities to shoot the puck, and physical play. He got his first point on the score sheet, with an assist on Pistilli’s powerplay goal.
Coach Jeff Daniels believes that Neimisz has a lot of potential. “I thought he was real solid. I played him at left wing, right wing, center, he killed penalties, and I thought he did a lot of good things and he showed us the ability to make some plays,” Daniels continued, “In the long run, he’ll be good pick up for us.”
Other assorted notes that don’t fit anywhere else:
- The Checkers had to kill seven penalties over the course of the game, against the league’s number one power play team. Charlotte was successful five of the seven times, allowing two back-to-back goals only 45 seconds apart in the first period.
- After a rough start to the season, the Checkers improved their home record to 8-12 after tonight’s win. They continue to play better on the road, with a record of 7-6-0-1.
- Over the course of the past ten games, the Checkers have a record of 7-3. I like where this is going after a really rough month of November (I can relate to that being a rough month… I re-wrote my thesis in the span of a week and a half!)
- Despite the outcome last night, this week’s Checkers games are some of my favorite as both a hockey fan and blogger. Last night, I got to celebrate my graduate school career being OVER with some of my best friends from the stands, a ride on the Olympia (and a handful of beers!) and a lot of cheering. Tonight, I got to see an outstanding game with my more professional eye on the game. I’m pretty lucky to get to participate in the game in different ways.
- The Checkers hit the road next weekend with a two-game trip to Oklahoma City. They return home for another pair of games against Texas January 17-18, and a matinee game against Norfolk on the 19th.