For Brock McGinn, the wait is over – for now.
The Checkers’ forward and prized prospect of the Carolina Hurricanes entered Monday’s matchup with the Norfolk Admirals mired in the kind of scoring drought that can do a number on a rookie’s confidence.
But following the Checkers’ 4-3 shootout win in front of 2,824 at Time Warner Cable Arena, the 5-foot-11-inch, 185-pound left wing made his way to the locker room with his head held high.
Early in the first period of a scoreless game – the start time was bumped up three hours to 4 p.m. to accommodate for an approaching winter storm– McGinn, 21, dug his nose in and followed a Dennis Robertson shot to the net.
When Admirals’ goaltender Jason LaBarbera (35 saves) had trouble controlling the rebound, McGinn was there for a put-back that snapped a scoring drought that had spanned 29 games and 78 long days.
“The last little bit I’ve been gripping my stick a little tight and not producing like I want to,” said McGinn, who now has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 48 games. “But just going out there and helping the team get that goal definitely takes the monkey off the back there.”
After netting 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists) in 68 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm last season, McGinn’s lack of offensive production hasn’t negatively impacted the forward’s game at the other end of the ice in the eyes of Checkers’ coach Jeff Daniels.
“Brock comes to the rink and plays the same way everyday,” said Daniels. “I’m sure (the scoreless streak) was eating him up inside, but he doesn’t say too much, he’s a quiet kid. You just keep sticking with it and kind of relax out there.
“He’s a first-year guy that’s going to go through ups and downs,” Daniels continued. “He’s a real solid player and I think as a young guy we’re not putting pressure on him to score goals. We know he has (scored) in the past, but he’s just here to learn and play in all situations for us.“
The goal was the first of two in the first period for the Checkers (18-26-5-1), who also received a tally from Alex Aleardi, who has been as hot lately (three goals in as manygames) as McGinn had been cold.
Zach Boychuk gave Charlotte a 3-0 edge in the second period, before Norfolk (21-24-3-3) battled back with a late goal in the second and two in the third to force a shootout.
With the two teams tied at 1-1 in the fourth round, Daniels gave McGinn the nod and the rookie rewarded his coach by slipping a backhander past LaBarbera for the game-winner.
“(Brock’s) a guy that I have complete trust in in all situations,” Daniels said. “I hope that goal gets him going.”
1st Period-1, Charlotte, McGinn 6 (Robertson), 1:24. 2, Charlotte, Aleardi 8 (Carrick, Schmitz), 13:14 (PP). Penalties-Schmitz Cha (interference), 7:33; Megna Nor (delay of game), 10:25; Fistric Nor (boarding), 13:05; Kurtz Nor (goaltender interference, fighting), 15:09; Robertson Cha (fighting), 15:09.
2nd Period-3, Charlotte, Boychuk 5 9:32 (PP). 4, Norfolk, Kurtz 3 (Robak, Cramarossa), 15:49. 5, Norfolk, Karlsson 7 (O'Brien, Steckel), 19:59. Penalties-McIver Nor (holding), 1:45; Rissanen Cha (slashing), 3:31; McIver Nor (holding), 8:01.
3rd Period-6, Norfolk, Cramarossa 5 (Heatley), 15:39. Penalties-Steckel Nor (diving/embellishment), 16:57; Woods Cha (holding), 16:57.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout - Norfolk 1 (Noesen G, O'Brien NG, Karlsson NG, Friberg NG), Charlotte 2 (Sutter G, Aleardi NG, Shugg NG, McGinn G).
Shots on Goal-Norfolk 8-17-19-5-0-49. Charlotte 15-13-5-5-1-39. Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 0/2; Charlotte 2/5. Goalies-Norfolk, LaBarbera 7-8-2 (38 shots-35 saves). Charlotte, Muse 5-9-0 (49 shots-46 saves). A-2,824. Referees-Ryan Murphy (5), David Banfield (77). Linesmen-Charlie O'Connor (29), Steve Walsh (85).