Over the past couple of months, Charlotte Checkers goaltender Michael Leighton bounced back and forth between starting for Charlotte and serving as the Carolina Hurricanes’ backup.
Adding to that, Leighton represented the Checkers at the American Hockey League All-Star Classic in Lehigh Valley, Pa.
But since the beginning of February, Leighton has started finding his footing with the Checkers. That continued this weekend, when he helped lead Charlotte to two wins against the Stockton Heat.
Leighton stopped 49 of the 50 shots he faced, including 23 in the Checkers’ 3-0 win Saturday night. That effort earned him his AHL-best 49th career shutout and moved him into a tie for fifth all-time in AHL wins (232).
Stockton seized a 1-0 lead in the first period before Dennis Robertson and Phil Di Giuseppe each scored a goal in the second. The Checkers sealed a 3-1 victory when Patrick Brown scored his third goal in as many games with less than five minutes left.
Connor Brickley broke a scoreless tie with less than four minutes left in the second period, when he redirected Jake Chelios’ shot into the net. Trevor Carrick added a goal moments later, and Lucas Wallmark scored his team-best 16th goal on a third-period empty-netter.
Charlotte kicks off a three-game road trip at 8 p.m. on Friday against the Milwaukee Admirals. The Checkers then face the Rockford IceHogs at 8 p.m. on Saturday before returning to Milwaukee for a 4 p.m. contest on Sunday.