CHARLOTTE, NC – Two players who are fairly unknown in Charlotte came to the fore Sunday with two goals against the Oklahoma City Barons. Matt Beca and David Rutherford both from the ECHL where they had been prolific scorers came up big on the night.
Beca got the ball rolling so to speak for Charlotte in the first period putting the puck home from a pass by Luke Pither. Beca had spent time in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades and the South Carolina Stingrays where he reached 32 points from 31 games.
“It’s great, and we need that,” said coach Jeff Daniels of the goals by Beca and Rutherford. “We need other guys to chip in.”
Charlotte were without Captain Brett Sutter who had returned to the NHL Hurricanes and both Zac Dalphi and Andreas Nodl who were absent through injury. Both these players look as if they will be on the sidelines for some time.
Another player who will be traveling east across the state to Raleigh will be goalie Justin Peters. Peters has had a tremendous season but with Hurricane goalie Cam Ward injured against the Florida Panthers he will be playing at the big show for a while. Mr. Consistent between the pipes, Peters made 33 saves against the Barons and kept them at bay especially in the third period when Oklahoma was knocking at the door.
With Carolina Hurricanes starter Ward suffering an injury during the team’s simultaneous game against the Florida Panthers, it’s possible that Sunday’s game is the last the Checkers will see of their All-Star goalie for some time.
“He’s proven that all year,” said Daniels of Peters’ readiness to take the next step if Ward has to miss time. “I’m sure they’ll be comfortable with him if needed.”
“I’m just trying to prove myself every day,” said Peters, who is tied for second in the AHL with six shutouts. “If I’m called upon that’s great, but I’m just trying to focus on what I can control.”
The second period was goalless then less than two minutes in the third Hunter tied the game for the Barons. It took Charlotte five minutes to regain the lead this time through Rutherford with assist by Jeremy Welsh and Chris Terry.
Rutherford, who had been injured with a concussion earlier in the season received a nice pass from Welsh, he went around Olivier Roy in the Baron’s goal to score.
Charlotte went further ahead in the 16 minute when Justin Shugg made the most of a pass from Marc-Andre Gragnani, 3-1 Charlotte. Shugg was the third ex-ECHL player to score for Charlotte in the game.
Oklahoma threw everything at Peters and eventually with a handful of seconds remaining in the third Dane Byers scored on a pass from Clark.
The Checkers play Oklahoma eight times during the season; the score at the moment is 4-3 Checkers. Monday night they meet for the final time.