Squaring off against the Rockford IceHogs for the fifth time in less than a month, the Charlotte Checkers battled their way to a 2-1 overtime American Hockey League victory thanks to some late heroics.
It didn’t take long for the Checkers to get on the board, as Brendan Woods, fresh off an NHL stint, lit the lamp six minutes into the first. They would hold the IceHogs just 10 shots through the first two periods, but Vinnie Hinostroza finally got the Rockford on the board with a rebound tap-in midway through the third. Those would hold as the only goals through regulation, sending the Checkers to overtime for a second consecutive contest.
The squads locked into a frantic overtime period, with each side creating several chances. But unlike Charlotte’s previous game, this one wasn’t destined for a shootout as Anthony Camara picked up a loose puck in front and sent the Checkers to the locker room with two crucial points in the standings.
Charlotte outshot the IceHogs 41-22, but some bounces and the play of Rockford goalie Mac Carruth kept the contest tight.
“We created some pretty good chances to score and clanked a couple off the crossbar,” Checkers coach Mark Morris said. “If you’re getting those chances to score, it means you’re doing some things right. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get the second point.”
Camara, who joined the team at the NHL trade deadline as a part of the Hurricanes’ deal that sent John-Michael Liles to Boston, was the difference Tuesday, driving to the net in overtime and coming through with the clutch game-winner.
“I’m a hard-nosed kind of kid, and it’s always been in my DNA,” Camara said. “Be strong with it, take it to the net and just grind it and grind it and be physical. That’s the type of player I am, and that’s what I model myself after.”
Morris had high praise for the young forward, who has established himself in the lineup quickly.
“He’s a guy that has really added a lot to our lineup in the way of that north speed and getting through the neutral zone,” Morris said. “He’s a rugged kid.
The Checkers have earned a point in each of their past seven home games and 11 of their past 14 overall. This surge is coming at just the right time, as the Checkers are making one final push for the postseason.
With the win, the Checkers’ winning percentage is .563 compared to .540 for San Jose, its closest rival for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division bracket.