Hartford, CT - The Charlotte Checkers scored three goals in the final 9:10 of the third period Friday night at the XL Center, breaking open a 1-1 game on the way to a 4-1 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Aleksi Saarela, Morgan Geekie and Julien Gauthier all scored in the third for Charlotte, after Sean Day had tied the game for the Wolf Pack late in the second. Former Wolf Pack Dustin Tokarski made 16 saves in the Checker net, and Brandon Halverson had 24 stops, including an early third-period penalty-shot save, for the Wolf Pack.
"We're a team that needs to work hard,” Day said. “I think the first two periods we played really well and were getting the shots. We just need to learn how to finish our games against top teams like that. It's tough letting those games go."
The Checkers scored the only goal of the first period, with Stelio Mattheos notching his first pro point at 3:03. Steven Lorentz broke up a Bobby Butler clearing attempt just inside the blue line, and fed down the left side to Mattheos, who was playing his fourth game since joining the Checkers from Brandon of the WHL. He was able to put a shot past the catching glove of Halverson.
That lead lasted almost all the way until the end of the second period, before Day finally solved Tokarski in the Charlotte net with only 22.3 seconds left in the second frame.
Ryan Lindgren passed the point from the right point to Day at the middle of the blue line, and he wristed a long shot that went through a Tim Gettinger screen and past Tokarski on the stick side.
"There was a lot of guys in front,” Day said. “I knew the far side was open, so I threw it, hoping it would go in."
Halverson kept the game tied by stopping a Mattheos penalty shot at 2:43 of the third, after Lindgren had covered the puck in the goal crease. Mattheos’ forehand shot went off of Halverson’s catching glove and wide of the goal.
Saarela, the Checkers’ leading goal-scorer, broke the tie with his 25th of the season at 10:50 of the third, though, with what would turn out to be the game-winner. Roland McKeown slid the puck from the top of the slot to Saarela below the right-wing faceoff dot, and he sizzled a one-timer into the top of the net.
Geekie then made it a two-goal lead with 3:35 left. Haydn Fleury cleared the puck down the left side into the Wolf Pack end, and Andrew Poturalski stickhandled it towards the slot before handing it to Geekie. He was able to get loose from Gabriel Fontaine and knock the puck inside the right post.
Only 19 seconds thereafter, at 16:44, Gauthier put the game on ice with an empty-net goal. Nick Schilkey lifted the puck just wide of the Hartford net, and Gauthier won the race to it, shoving it into the vacated cage from the right side.
The Wolf Pack are right back at the XL Center Saturday night, hosting the Belleville Senators in a 7:00 PM game. That is “Superhero Night”, as fans can meet and greet their favorite superheroes, and the first 1,000 kids 12 or younger into the game receive a free Wolf Pack lunch box, presented by Carvel.
Tickets for all 2018-19 Wolf Pack home games are on sale now at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499. Tickets purchased in advance for kids 12 or younger start at just $13 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2018-19 AHL season can be found on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com. To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.
Charlotte Checkers 4 at Hartford Wolf Pack 1
Friday, March 29, 2019 - XL Center