In the finale of what has been a less-than-stellar road trip through Canada, the Charlotte Checkers battled back to take down the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-3 in overtime Saturday night in the finale of the team’s road trip.
Despite finding themselves behind three times, the Checkers came back, rallying back until Justin Shugg netted the game-winner in overtime. The victory snapped a three-game skid for the Checkers in which they were outscored 14-4.
Whereas Friday’s contest was essentially decided in the first period with the Bulldogs jumping out to a 4-0 victory, Saturday’s rematch was a different story. The Checkers escaped the first 20 minutes tied at 1, and trailed 3-2 going into the second intermission.
It didn’t take long for the Checkers, who started the period on a two-man advantage, to even things up once again, as Zach Boychuk entered the zone with speed and ripped one past Hamilton goaltender Joey MacDonald just 13 seconds into the third. The two teams spent the rest of the frame buzzing around the nets but couldn’t find the go-ahead strike, and the game proceeded to overtime. After four minutes of back-and-forth action with no goals, the game shifted to three-on-three. As the extra frame entered its final minute, Brendan Woods found an open Shugg, who buried it for his second goal of the game.
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The Checkers’ offense, which had been silenced during the road trip, bounced back with four goals from three of the team’s biggest scoring threats. Shugg, who had been without a goal in his last 15 games, opened and closed the scoring for his first multi-goal game of the season. It also moved him within one of the team lead, with Chad LaRose missing his second straight game due to injury. In addition to Shugg, Boychuk and Alex Aleardi also scored.
In goal, the Checkers continued to alternate between their two netminders. John Muse was tabbed for the start and came up large, earning his fourth win in his last five starts while turning aside 29 of 32 shots.
The Checkers will now return to Charlotte for a pair of tilts this week against their West Division foes the San Antonio Rampage.
1st Period-1, Hamilton, Carr 19 (Hudon, Ellis), 9:29. 2, Charlotte, Shugg 14 (Holmstrom, Biega), 19:15. Penalties-Cornell Cha (fighting), 1:23; Shea Ham (fighting), 1:23; Shugg Cha (tripping), 3:56; Sorkin Ham (hooking), 13:47.
2nd Period-3, Hamilton, Andrighetto 13 (Carr, Hudon), 1:46. 4, Charlotte, Aleardi 10 (Di Giuseppe, Holmstrom), 2:21. 5, Hamilton, Hensick 15 (Bowman), 14:55. Penalties-Dowell Ham (tripping), 3:10; Robertson Cha (fighting), 8:36; Dowell Ham (fighting), 8:36; Hagel Cha (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 8:37; Crisp Ham (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 8:37; Gill Ham (slashing), 9:06; Tangradi Ham (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:50; Drewiske Ham (roughing), 19:51.
3rd Period-6, Charlotte, Boychuk 8 (Shugg, Carrick), 0:13 (PP). Penalties-Hudon Ham (slashing), 2:55; Allen Ham (boarding), 12:49.
OT Period-7, Charlotte, Shugg 15 (Woods), 6:02. Penalties-Aleardi Cha (misconduct), 6:02; Hudon Ham (misconduct), 6:02.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 10-19-10-5-44. Hamilton 8-9-12-3-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 1 / 7; Hamilton 0 / 1.
Goalies-Charlotte, Muse 7-10-0 (32 shots-29 saves). Hamilton, MacDonald 8-8-0 (44 shots-40 saves).
A-3,811. Referees-Alex Garon (64). Linesmen-Kevin Hastings (61), Mike Harrington (11).