At first, the game tonight between the Charlotte Checkers and Milwaukee Admirals seemed like a typical game between former-division rivals with a long history (well, four years, but that’s the majority of the Checkers AHL existence!).
It was no surprise that the Checkers first goal of the game came from Chris Terry of the Carolina Hurricanes, who spent the past four seasons in Charlotte and is the Checkers leading scorer of all time. Terry tipped in a shot by Trevor Carrick, who finished the game with three assists.
By three minutes into the second period, the Checkers were up 3-0 over a very tough Admirals team, who’s Magnus Hellburg, the hulking 6’5” goaltender who’s GAA leads the league (not surprisingly) at 0.96, and a save percentage 0.961, was between the pipes opposite Charlotte’s John Muse, in his second home appearance of the season.
That’s when the dreaded 3-0 hockey lead came back to bite the home team. The Checkers got into penalty trouble (Keegan Lowe, Gabriel Dejardins and Dennis Robertson, in that order). The Admirals scored three power play goals in a row, and tied the game by the midway point of the second period.
The score stayed 3-3 for the next 20 minutes, when things got a little crazy. A fight in Muse’s crease between Milwaukee’s Michael Liambas and Rasmus Rissanen. It appears that Liambas took offense to a huge hit Rissanen had dealt an Admirals player, and after Kyle Hagel joined the fight, Muse decided to add a few of his own jabs.
Moments later, Hellberg crossed the red line and swapped blows with Muse, joining a chaotic frenzy that took a while to clean up.
In the end, Muse and Hellberg were both ejected from the game with matching secondary altercation/game misconducts and fighting majors. Hellberg was given the additional two minutes for crossing the red line.
Keegan Lowe received a game misconduct for his secondary altercation, and Michael Liambas received a game misconduct for two fighting majors in one game, or rule 20.4, which was added to the AHL rulebook this season.
So with only nine minutes to go in the game, the Checkers and Admirals were both forced to send a new goaltender into the game, and it quickly became a showdown of which off-the-bench goalie could make the best saves.
Marek Mazanec faced eight Checkers shots during his half-period of play, and stopped all but two of them. In the end, it was Drew MacIntyre who prevailed. He faced two shots in his 9:16 of ice time, and the one save he made was enough for him to come away with the win.
With only about 18 hours until the next matchup between the Checkers and Admirals, emotions may still be running high tomorrow. Coach Jeff Daniels
“Well, we want to play the game on our toes and excited. We don’t want to get into penalty trouble like we did today.”
Brock McGinn, who scored Checkers fourth goal, said the third period scrum gave the Checkers a new burst of energy.
“It definitely gets us going,” McGinn said, “You know, we wanted to go out there and keep our concentration the rest of the period, and I think we did.”
Trevor Carrick, who contributed three assists in the Checkers winning effort, expects the rematch tomorrow will be exciting.
“The emotions were running pretty high there. Tomorrow is going to be a big test for us. The game today is going to carry on tomorrow,” Carrick said, “It should be a pretty physical game. Pretty heated. So, those are the fun kind of games and I’m looking forward to it.
Random thoughts that don’t fit anywhere else:
- In an ongoing effort to come up with new cheesy hashtags for in-game tweeting, I’m experimenting with #McGinnItToWinIt. It’s fun, but nothing will ever top #Terryiffic of #Shuggernaut
- A special shout out to the great Nathan Beasley for coming to the rescue when I forgot a pen. This story couldn’t have been written without his hard work and hustle.
- John Muse’s family was at the game tonight. Is he too old to get a mom lecture where his full name is used?
- I miss Justin Pogge. It must be a goalie fight that makes me reminisce about the former Checkers netminder who “lost his mind” in Hershey, PA in 2010.
- Every time I see the #CheckersComeHome video I get a little more excited about the move to Bojangles Coliseum next year.