The Charlotte Checkers got off to a slow start in Sunday’s American Hockey League game against the Milwaukee Admirals.
Thanks to goaltender Drew MacIntyre, the Checkers were able to stay in the game and finish strong, taking a 3-2 shootout victory against the Admirals at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Justin Shugg scored the winner on Charlotte’s third shootout attempt, and MacIntyre came up with 39 saves, as well as making stops on all three Milwaukee attempts in the shootout.
That gave the Checkers not only their fourth straight home win, but also their first back-to-back wins since the closing weeks of the 2013-2014 season. And both wins came against the Admirals, who are tied for fifth in the AHL’s Western Conference with 26 points.
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“We’ve been in it against a lot of the top teams we’ve faced so far this year,” Charlotte coach Jeff Daniels said. “For us, it was finally a matter of getting rewarded for some hard work we’ve done over the past couple weeks.”
Brock McGinn and A.J. Jenks added goals in regulation for the Checkers, with Jenks’ score coming off a deflection of Beau Schmitz’s shot with 9 minutes, 21 seconds left in the third period tying the score 2-2.
Charlotte wouldn’t have been in position to win its first shootout of the season had it not been for MacIntyre, who posted his fifth 30-plus save game this season.
MacIntyre, a 16-year pro, came up with 15 saves in 16 shots during the first period. The only goal allowed came from Tristan Grant, who scored with 1:10 left to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
“Sometimes when we’ve gone down early, we kind of felt sorry for ourselves,” MacIntyre said. “It was important to keep it close early.”
The Checkers tied the game at 1-1 on McGinn’s goal with 14:53 left in the second period, but Milwaukee took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play in the final two minutes, with Colton Sissons’ rebound goal putting the Admirals ahead.
“We know we can play with any team, as long as we play a certain way,” MacIntyre said. “Yeah, it feels good that we’ve put a little string together, but we really haven’t done anything yet. We just don’t play 60 minutes consistently enough. If we want to have success, we have to play that way.”
Charlotte won shootout 1-0
1st Period—1, Milwaukee, Grant 1 (Van Guilder, Bitetto), 18:50. Penalties—Jean Cha (hooking), 5:08.
2nd Period—2, Charlotte, McGinn 5 (Rissanen, Murphy), 5:17. 3, Milwaukee, Sissons 6 (Salomaki, Leipsic), 18:10 (PP). Penalties—Schmitz Cha (boarding), 17:12; LaRose Cha (tripping), 17:48.
3rd Period—4, Charlotte, Jenks 2 (Schmitz, Shugg), 10:39. Penalties—Girard Mil (slashing), 5:25; Schmitz Cha (kneeing), 7:27; Åberg Mil (tripping), 11:24; Jenks Cha (slashing), 19:03.
Shootout—Milwaukee 0 (Gaudreau NG, Leipsic NG, Aberg NG), Charlotte 1 (Di Giuseppe NG, Terry NG, Shugg G).
Shots on goal—Milwaukee 16-9-11-5-0-41. Charlotte 5-12-7-1-1-26.
Power-play opportunities—Milwaukee 1-5; Charlotte 0-2.
Goalies—Milwaukee, Mazanec 6-5-1 (25 shots-23 saves). Charlotte, MacIntyre 6-8-0 (41-39).
A—3,958. Referees—Jon McIsaac. Linesmen—Ben Shiley, Steve Walsh.