Editor’s Note: I’d like to formally welcome Tess to the Chasing Checkers family. She’s agreed to come on board as a contributor, and tonight marks her first official appearance. Expect many more great articles from her as the season goes on! You can follow her on twitter at @TessQC
The Checkers home opener was more than a nail biter, that’s for sure. All was clear on the front during the first two periods, Charlotte dominated Peoria then scoring 2 goals on their first three shots a la Nicolas Blanchard and Jerome Samson. Samson’s goal was something most of us have only seen in The Mighty Ducks… the famous knuckle puck.
In the second period the Zach Boychuk we all know and love returned with an insane goal. It seems as if he’s finally gotten out of his slump and earned a well deserved second star tonight.
The third period is when it all went downhill. Three goals were scored in about three minutes by the Rivermen (McRae, Della Rovere, Peluso). There was a sense of panic on the ice, which left the Checkers sloppy. The urgency had them too wound up and they failed to settle the puck time after time. About half way through the period they began to come back together again though they couldn’t seem to control or convert on the powerplay. If my memory serves me well Justin Peters had only faced about 12 shots until the third period when another 13 were tacked on.
Both teams looked like a fair matchup in overtime, there were many wonderful chances for the Checkers to score but no goals were to be had. The game ended up going to a shootout… a seven round shootout. Derek Nesbitt was the first shooter for Peoria and the only Rivermen to score on Justin Peters. Chris Terry saved the day with his goal making SO goals even after three. Four rounds later Matt Pistilli elevated the puck and scored, Anthony Nigro followed after only to be stopped by Peters, and winning the game for the Checkers.
There was a definite improvement in the defense, Peters saw about half the amount of shots he had faced previously in the first game of the season. Though Matheiu Roy is a defenseman he is stepping up offensively more than anyone had expected. Roy had five shots on goal, the same amount as Jerome Samson, Nicolas Blanchard, and Drayson Bowman.
Chris Terry has proven to be a dominate force on the ice, though he doesn’t have a role in captainship he looks like it on the ice. Just like last season he is stepping up and setting an example.
Jon Matsumoto continued his point streak, making him the only Checker with points in all three games. He is currently the third ranked goal scorer in the AHL with 3 goals. He boasts 6 assists as well in 3 just games.
- Last year’s opener included Rod Brind’amour and fireworks. The entire place was completely packed.
- This year I have to say I was a bit disappointed. Attendance was far from desirable, less than 8000 fans were in the arena. That’s mostly due to race weekend though.
- Though there were no fireworks, Chubby came in from the ceiling, which was pretty darn cool as well. This year’s opening sequence is phenomenal though. I can’t quite describe it but you won’t remember the fake flames around the guys from last year.
- Lot’s of folks from Raleigh made the trip down, and it was awesome to have them here with us in Charlotte as always.
- Everyone really seemed to love the flag giveaway and the crowd used them the entire game.