(Charlotte, NC) … The Charlotte Checkers (29-17-3-0) scored five times in the second period on their way to a 5-2 win over the Rochester Americans (27-17-2-4) in the final meeting of the season between the two teams Wednesday at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Both of Rochester’s goals came on special teams with Taylor Leier scoring his sixth of the season on the power-play before Sean Malone added his 10th on a shorthanded tally just 27 seconds into the third period.
Casey Mittelstadt notched an assist for the second straight game, giving the former first-round pick five points (1+4) through his first six games in the month of February. The second-year forward hasn’t gone more than two games without a point since opening the 2020 calendar year on a season-long four-game point streak (3+1).
Zach Redmond, Eric Cornel and Andrew MacWilliam all recorded an assist while rookie goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-3-1) made his fifth start of the season, making 27 saves on 32 shots he faced.
All five of Charlotte’s goals came within the second period, including two in a span of nine seconds, with Max McCormick (1+1) and leading goal-getter Julien Gauthier (1+1) each recording a goal and an assist each to lead the Checkers to their fifth straight win. Jake Bean also finished with three assists while Anton Forsberg (14-8-2) made 42 saves.
After a silent first period on both ends, Charlotte would score four consecutive goals before the Amerks were able to find the offensive spark late in the second period thanks to a power-play strike by Leier at the 14:04 mark. Leier connected on a cross-ice feed from Redmond atop the right circle and wired a shot past Forsberg to make it a 4-1 game. The tally marked his first since returning from injury back on Feb. 5.
Leier’s sixth of the season would only halt Charlotte’s momentum temporarily as David Gust quickly answered for the defending Calder Cup champs less than three minutes later to restore the four-goal advantage.
Despite having to begin the period a man-down as a result of a carryover penalty from the final minutes of the second, Rochester would come out hot in the final frame with Malone finding the back of the net just 27 seconds after the opening face-off, beating Forsberg with a backhand that trickled in. Malone’s early marker in the third period brings him within two goals of tying his career-high from his rookie campaign in 2017-18.
The Amerks attempted to close the gap, and despite holding a 15-8 shot advantage during the final frame, Malone’s 10th of the season in the opening minute would be as close as they would come.
Rochester closes out its four-game road swing on Saturday, Feb. 15 at Upstate Medical University Arena against the Syracuse Crunch before returning home on Sunday, Feb. 16 to open a season-long six-game homestand against the Utica Comets. Both North Division matchups will be carried live on The Sports Leader AM 950/95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: T. Leier (6), S. Malone (10)
CHA: M. McCormick (14), D. Sheppard (1), R. McKeown (5 – GWG , J. Gauthier (26), D. Gust (10)
ROC: U. Luukkonen – 27/32 (L)
CHA: A. Forsberg – 42/44 (W)
ROC: PP (1/3) | PK (2/2)
CHA: PP (0/2) | PK (2/3)
1. D. Sheppard (CHA)
2. J. Bean (CHA)
3. S. Mattheos (CHA)