Checkers Wreck the Rampage – Win 2-1

I almost didn’t recognize the team last night compared to the one that played on Tuesday night.  The Checkers started the game with a whole new level of energy, and it carried through the first two periods, and enough into the third to carry the win.

Official gamesheet is HERE.

In their final of four matchups this season, the Checkers were able to defeat the San Antonio Rampage 2-1 last night in Charlotte.  The two teams are now 2-2 on the season, and it would probably be a miracle for Charlotte to meet San Antonio in the playoffs (that’s assuming San Antonio can even make the playoffs with the new format).

The Checkers battled through three periods, though the third was a bit of a letdown defensively.  They allowed more shots in the third (17) than in the previous two periods, and their shots on goal decreased by nearly 50 percent during the final 20 minutes of the game.

Last night say John Muse make his first start for the Checkers this season, and he fought off a huge number of attempts by the Rampage, stopping all but one of the 43 shots he faced.  He’s a very different goaltender than the other two Charlotte has had this season.  Muse is lacking some of the technique and finesse of Mike Murphy and Justin Peters, but he got the job done.  He’s also a very different build, which lends to a different style of play.  At times Muse looked a bit uneasy and flopped around when trying to make saves, but his teammates had his back, and he had a great first start.  It’s a huge boost to the entire team to have a reliable backup to starting netminder Murphy, and right now they have that with Muse.

  • Riley Nash left the game during the first with an apparent knee injury, but returned in time to score the game winning goal in the third.
  • The first icing of the game wasn’t called until five minutes into the second period.  Just shows the completely different style of play last night than has been typical.
  • Overall, the Checkers did a great job getting into the crease and really challenging Dov Grumet-Morris.  This pressure is what led to the two goals, specifically the first one of the game by Jerome Samson.
  • It was SO GREAT to have Zac Dalpe back in action.  Sometimes, I forget what a huge asset someone is until they come back.
  • The lines were more respectable last night.  As the season has progressed, the grinder types seem to have mixed in a bit more with our offensive dynamos, and it worked well last night.
  • Jared Staal still seemed out of place, despite returning to the fourth line once again.  I would have enjoyed seeing Matt Beca get a second look.
  • Bobby Sanguinetti was scratched in lieu of Derek Joslin, who is in Charlotte on a conditioning stint.  I hope this is not a sign of Sanguinetti having further injury woes.
  • Joslin was a great addition to the Checkers defense last night.  His veteran experience was a nice change of pace, and after he gets more comfortable with his new (temporary) teammates I hope to see more good things from him.  (And of course, by then, he’ll be back in Raleigh!)
  • Defensive pairings were switched around some, in a way I like.  Michal Jordan and Brett Bellemore were back together for the first time in weeks.  Mathieu Roy was paired with Joslin, and Justin Krueger and Rasmus Rissanen were together as usual.

Quick hits news and notes:

  • The AHL announced their All-Star rosters yesterday and named Jerome Samson and Jon Matsumoto to the western team.  I’m not really sure the rationale behind the players selected from any of the teams (other than the fact Charlotte’s players lead their team in points) but it’s fantastic the Checkers have two representatives.
  • Hopefully it’s not as severe as I’ve heard, but I fear Chris Durno could be out for awhile.  He is currently sidelined with an injury I’ve been told is a concussion from the game in Chicago on New Year’s Eve.

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