Pack Strike First, but Checkers Take OverDec 17, 2019
(Photo courtesy of Charlotte Checkers)
Vinni Lettieri scored the first goal of the game for the Wolf Pack Tuesday night at Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, NC, but the Charlotte Checkers would reel off the next five, on the way to a 6-3 win in the first of back-to-back games between the two teams in Charlotte.
Julien Gauthier had two goals and an assist for Charlotte, and defensemen Fredrik Claesson added a goal and two assists. Phil DiGiuseppe and Tim Gettinger also scored for the Wolf Pack, and Joey Keane and Danny O’Regan had two assists apiece.
The Wolf Pack were outshot 19-3 in the first period, but they opened the scoring on a power play at 5:17, just 14 seconds after Clark Bishop was sent off for hooking.
Keane worked the puck from the right point to Lettieri just above the opposite faceoff dot, and the Wolf Pack’s leading goal-scorer one-timed a rocket past the catching glove of Charlotte goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (19 saves), for Lettieri’s 11th goal of the season.
Colin Markison tied the game at 10:22, deflecting a shot from the left point by Claesson past Wolf Pack starting goaltender Igor Shesterkin on the glove side, after Bishop started the play from the side of the net.
The Checkers then went ahead on a 4-on-3 power play at 17:07. Jake Bean shot the puck from high in the slot, and Gauthier, stationed right in front of Shesterkin, re-directed it just inside the goal post to the goaltender’s left.
Charlotte maintained the momentum after the intermission, putting up two more goals in the first 1:21 of the second period, 20 seconds apart.
Spencer Smallman upped the lead to 3-1 at 1:01 of the second. David Gust carried the puck into the Wolf Pack zone on the left side and handed off to Claesson, who spun and backhanded a feed across the slot to Smallman, for a forehand finish.
Then, at 1:21, Max McCormick made it 4-1 for the Checkers. Gauthier played the puck towards the middle off of the left-wing boards, just inside the Wolf Pack blue line, and Eetu Luostarinen deflected it to McCormick, who ripped a quick shot past Shesterkin on the stick side.
A Claesson goal at 5:28 ended Shesterkin’s night, after 17 saves. Oliwer Kaski sent Claesson down the left side with a pass, and Claesson’s shot went in off of Shesterkin’s left pad.
Adam Huska came on in relief at that point, and he would go on to stop all 19 shots he faced, helping the Wolf Pack get back into the game in the third period.
DiGiuseppe, a former Checker, stopped the run of five straight Charlotte goals with his seventh tally of the year at 7:24 of the third frame. Vitali Kravtsov, in his first game since being reassigned back to the Wolf Pack from Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, set up DiGiuseppe with a cross-slot feed. DiGiuseppe’s shot from the right side of the slot went off of a sliding Nedeljkovic and trickled inside the post to his left.
The Wolf Pack cut the lead to two with 7:30 remaining, as Ryan Gropp jammed the puck across the middle from the right-wing boards, and Gettinger chopped it past Nedeljkovic from just to the left of the goal crease.
Gauthier would seal the outcome, though, with an empty-net goal, his second marker of the game, at 18:11. After Keane had a shot from the middle of the blue line blocked, Gauthier picked up the puck and flipped it over Keane’s head and all the way down into the open cage.
The Wolf Pack and Checkers tangle again Wednesday night at Bojangles’ Coliseum, facing off at 7:00 PM. The next home outing for the Wolf Pack is their last action before Christmas, a battle with the Providence Bruins this Saturday, December 21. That game also faces off at 7:00.
Tickets for all 2019-20 Wolf Pack home games are on sale now at the Sunwave Gas & Power 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 $10 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
To speak with a Wolf Pack representative about season or group tickets, or any of the Wolf Pack’s many ticketing options, call (860) 722-9425, or click here to request more info. To visit the Wolf Pack on line, go to www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3 at Charlotte Checkers 6
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - Bojangles' Coliseum
Hartford 1 0 2 - 3
Charlotte 2 3 1 - 6
1st Period-1, Hartford, Lettieri 11 (Keane, O'Regan), 5:17 (PP). 2, Charlotte, Markison 3 (Claesson, Bishop), 10:22. 3, Charlotte, Gauthier 11 (Bean, Kuokkanen), 17:07 (PP). Penalties-Bishop Cha (hooking), 5:03; Ebert Hfd (roughing), 12:50; Sheppard Cha (roughing), 12:50; Ebert Hfd (interference), 15:19; Raddysh Hfd (delay of game), 16:20; Luostarinen Cha (hooking), 16:29.
2nd Period-4, Charlotte, Smallman 1 (Claesson, Gust), 1:01. 5, Charlotte, McCormick 5 (Luostarinen, Gauthier), 1:21. 6, Charlotte, Claesson 1 (Kaski, McCormick), 5:28. Penalties-Sheppard Cha (slashing), 2:01; Priskie Cha (interference), 6:41.
3rd Period-7, Hartford, Di Giuseppe 7 (Kravtsov, O'Regan), 7:24. 8, Hartford, Gettinger 6 (Gropp, Keane), 12:30. 9, Charlotte, Gauthier 12 18:11 (EN). Penalties-Lettieri Hfd (tripping), 4:34; Di Giuseppe Hfd (slashing, roughing, misconduct - continuing altercation), 19:25; Lacroix Cha (roughing, misconduct - continuing altercation), 19:25.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 3-8-11-22. Charlotte 19-12-11-42.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 / 4; Charlotte 1 / 4.
Goalies-Hartford, Shesterkin 11-4-3 (22 shots-17 saves); Huska 5-2-4 (19 shots-19 saves). Charlotte, Nedeljkovic 6-7-1 (22 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Troy Paterson (29), Furman South (44).
Linesmen-Jesse Marquis (86), Kilian McNamara (31).