When Iowa’s Zack Mitchell and Charlotte’s Brock McGinn traded goals just 27 seconds apart during the first four minutes Saturday, it seemed as though the American Hockey League game might resemble the track meet the teams played a night earlier.
The Wild, however, commanded the rest of the game, scoring two power-play goals during the first period to chase goaltender Drew MacIntyre from the game and two more against Daniel Altshuller during the opening 10 minutes of the second to take a 5-1 victory, handing the Checkers a winless three-game road trip.
Iowa won 5-4 Friday night when Grayson Downing tipped a shot past Altshuller during overtime as the teams were skating three-on-three. Christoph Bertschy was the driving force behind that victory, netting the first hat trick in franchise history. It also marked the first time this season the Checkers had been on the receiving end of a three-goal effort.
Saturday’s result means Charlotte will go into the AHL All-Star break with just one victory in its past five games. Still, the Checkers are 14-3-4 since Dec. 9.
The Checkers were playing short one forward as Zach Boychuk (injury) and Ethan Werek (illness) both missed the game. Late in this game, defenseman Keegan Lowe was hit in the head with a puck and did not return.
Charlotte, with the exception of All-Stars Derek Ryan and Trevor Carrick, now will enjoy a five-day break before returning to action at home Friday. The All-Stars will head to Syracuse, N.Y., to participate in Sunday’s skills competition and Monday’s game.
Shortly after allowing Iowa’s fifth goal Saturday, the Checkers switched goalies again as a melee sparked by Downing’s boarding penalty against Charlotte defenseman Ryan Murphy resulted in a rare goalie fight between Altshuller and Iowa’s Steven Michalek.
Though initially restrained by linesmen as he attempted to go the length of the ice to meet Michalek, who was making his AHL debut, Altshuller eventually found the opening he was looking for as the two squared off. Michalek would remain in the game, but Altshuller received a two-minute minor for leaving his crease in addition to the fighting major and did not return.