Peoria, IL – The Charlotte Checkers defeated the Peoria Riverment tonight by a score of 6-1. I could go on right now and make an account of every goal the Checkers scored (and some were #realbeauties, but the best part of the game was that I won the first round on behalf of my friend over at the Rivermen Blog. You see, we had a friendly wager on the game, and when the Checkers won, I got a pint of Goose Island 312, a tasty summer beer out of Chicago. But enough about that.
If I could attribute one thing to the Checkers winning the game, it was the presence and intensity of Nicolas Blanchard. In his first game back since being injured March 24 in Hershey, his presence was noticeable. He didn’t score any goals (though he did notch a helper on Justin Krueger’s AMAZING goal from the blue line), but there’s just something about him on the ice that turns the whole team into fighters. It’s a grit and fire that inspires the rest of the team.
From the moments warmups began, you could see a fire in the Charlotte team they hadn’t had in weeks. Two panes of glass were broken in the Checkers end during warmups. The team was passionate, and played together, and were defensively responsible. It was the kind of Charlotte hockey played prior to the downward slide of the past two months.
The key to to the game tonight was offensive pressure. The Checkers drove in deep time and time again, and didn’t give up when going into the crease. Jake Allen, who finished 1-4-1 on the season against the Checkers, really didn’t have a chance.
Justin Peters had a good game, but I don’t know that he deserved his second star honors. His teammates played amazingly well, and that’s what kept them in the game. He always stopped the first shot, but was shaky on rebounds. My friend Zack, who was at the game and is a goalie, had this to say, “Peters could have stood in front of a soccer net and won. Charlotte’s defense was the real winner.”
The Rivermen… well, I felt like I was watching the Checkers during their abysmal 8-2 drubbing last week by Abbotsford. It seems like they already have tee times scheduled for Monday, and that’s too bad because they are a team that was strong for most of the season, and is part of a great Blues organization.
Tomorrow morning, it’s off to Rockford. Charlotte has the IceHogs number, but after being shut out on Tuesday, Rockford might be out for blood. It should be a good game, and one I’m looking forward to seeing in person.
Let’s Go Checkers!