Hockey

Surging Checkers chalk up another win

Three straight games with four or more goals, strong goaltending, and significant contributions from all four lines.

This young group of Charlotte Checkers finally looks to be rounding into form.

Brock McGinn turned in his second consecutive two-point night and John Muse stopped 33 shots, helping the Checkers extend their current winning streak to a season-long three games with a 4-2 victory over the Iowa Wild at Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday night.

Keegan Lowe (1G, 2A), Zach Boychuk and Brendan Woods also scored for the Checkers (20-26-5-1), who have now laid claim to eight of their last 10 possible points.

“We’re definitely a really young team this year compared to last year and compared to most teams in the league, but we’re maturing a lot,” Lowe said. “You see first-year guys maturing, guys like me – second-year guys – starting to play with confidence.

“Confidence in this game is the most important thing, I think. If you’re playing with confidence you’re playing worlds better. Most of the guys in that room are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

Muse stood tall during a late push by the Wild (17-37-1-1) in the third period before a Woods’ goal with just under a minute to play put the game away.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve scored a goal, so it’s good to get that monkey off my back,” said Woods, whose last goal came eight games ago in Rockford. “And then to kind of put the icing on the cake there, it put the game away.”

The Wild, who have dropped seven consecutive games, scored a goal in each of the first two periods, with Marc Hagel – brother of Checkers enforcer Kyle Hagel – recording as assist on his team’s first-period goal.

For the third game in a row, it was McGinn who got the Checkers’ scoring started when he buried a nice pass from Michal Jordan – who had been reassigned to Charlotte by the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the day – to tie the game at 1 just 58 seconds into the second period.

After a 20-game pointless streak, McGinn has now recorded five (4G, 1A) in his last three games.

“We all knew he was capable of doing that,” Woods said of McGinn. “The guy’s put up plenty of points in juniors and he’s had plenty chances. He’s been snakebitten. I knew it was a matter of time before they started going in.

“Right now, he’s on fire and I’m kind of glad to be on his line with all that’s going on. It makes me feel good.”

Four minutes after McGinn’s strike, Boychuk’s sixth of the season gave the Checkers the lead for good.

“We’re finally getting to the point where the young guys, we’re not looking at them as rookies anymore,” Woods said. “They’ve played plenty of games now and they know what the league’s all about and we’re all starting to come together. Hopefully we can keep this going and kind of get back in the playoff hunt again. And if not, we’ll just have to keep it going leading into next season.”

Iowa

1

1

0

2

Charlotte

0

3

1

4

1st Period—1, Iowa, Mitchell 15 (Graovac, Hagel), 7:19. Penalties-Sandlak Cha (delay of game), 9:56.

2nd Period—2, Charlotte, McGinn 9 (Jordan, Shugg), 0:58. 3, Charlotte, Boychuk 6 (LaRose, Lowe), 4:50. 4, Charlotte, Lowe 2 (McGinn, Holmstrom), 11:11. 5, Iowa, Phillips 7 (Bowman), 17:34. Penalties-Blum Ia (holding), 9:39; Shugg Cha (slashing), 10:46; Falk Ia (high-sticking), 11:37.

3rd Period—6, Charlotte, Woods 9 (Aleardi, Lowe), 18:39. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal—Iowa 7-17-11-35. Charlotte 13-13-7-33.

Power Play Opportunities—Iowa 0 / 1; Charlotte 0 / 2.

Goalies—Iowa, Gustafsson 7-18-0 (33 shots-29 saves). Charlotte, Muse 6-9-0 (35 shots-33 saves).

A—4,892. Referees—Jason Rollins (37), Fred Leblanc (30). Linesmen—Paul Carnathan (93), Sean D’Loughy (95).

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