Charlotte Checkers defeat Norfolk at home, extend winning streak to season-long three games

Zach Boychuk scored in the first period to put the Charlotte Checkers up 2-0. (Photo - J. Propst)
Zach Boychuk scored in the first period to put the Charlotte Checkers up 2-0. (Photo – J. Propst)

A win is a win, and that is what the Charlotte Checkers can take away from their game tonight. A goal by Aaron Palushaj in the final moments of overtime led his team to a 4-3 victory over the Norfolk Admirals.

Goals by Beau Schmitz and Zach Boychuk had the Checkers up by 2-0 after the first period, but the Admirals came back with a vengeance in the second, scoring two goals less than a minute a part halfway through the period.

Though the team was able to improve their number in the win column, coach and players recognized that a better effort will need to be made to continue the current streak.

Coach Jeff Daniels was pleased with the result, but knows there is still work to be done, “We’ve got to keep working and be better than we were tonight. A win is a win, and obviously we need them, but we need to play smarter.”

Charlotte’s special teams had a very good night.  The power play scored on their first opportunity, the PK had two successful penalty kills, and the four-on-four of overtime was successful.

Emerson Etem's game tying goal for the Norfolk Admiralsled to his team facing the Charlotte Checkers in overtime. (Photo - J. Propst)
Emerson Etem’s game tying goal for the Norfolk Admiralsled to his team facing the Charlotte Checkers in overtime. (Photo – J. Propst)

Aaron Palushaj, the night’s first star, spoke of the hard work needed this week to continue gaining momentum, especially when they face the same Admirals team on Thursday. “We’ve got to go out and have a hard week of practice. We have to go out with a little bit of a better effort and play for a full 60 minutes.”

Brett Sutter, who spoke to the media after the game sporting a few fresh stitches in his upper lip thanks to the butt end of an Admirals stick in the final seconds of the first, said confidence had a lot to play in the team’s recent performance. “We weren’t our best tonight, but it felt good to pull one out.”  He continued about the team’s recent winning ways helping the atmosphere on the team. “It’s night and day. Before we were trying to find reasons to have fun in the rink, and we get to have fun, work hard, and that’s the enjoyable part of hockey.”


And now, for some notes that don’t fit anywhere else, the Checkers Fun Facts edition:

  • The Checkers have struggled more in the second period than any other this season.  After tonight’s game, they have scored only 19 goals, while allowing 26 during the middle period of play.
  • The Anaheim Ducks, who are one of the top teams in the NHL, are overrun with goaltending talent. Their newest prospect, 2011 draft pick John Gibson, is one of the most impressive.  He’s Pittsburgh born, and won the gold medal for team USA at the 2013 World Juniors, AND the Bronze medal at the 2013 IIHF World Championship last summer as a 19 year old. Gibson is on a lot of radars as the next great American goaltender, following in the footsteps of guys like Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick.
  • The Checkers current three-game winning streak is their first of the season. The last time the team won three games in a row was February of last season, when they won three between February 10-16.  Their last HOME winning streak dates back to November, 2011, when the Checkers won five in a row, including four at home.
  • Since successfully defending my Master’s thesis on December 2, the Checkers have gone 4-1, improving their current home stand record to 5-2. (Shameless self promotion!!!! But after finishing graduate school, I’ve earned the right to brag!)
  • Norfolk’s Emerson Etem, who was the third star of the game, started this season with the Ducks, and has some of the Olympics in his blood.  California native Etem’s mom competed in the 1984 Olympic games in rowing. His brother and sister also rowed in prestigious NCAA programs. Etem took the frozen road, though, and played competitive hockey in sunny SoCal and has a promising NHL career ahead of him.

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