CHARLOTTE, NC – After a successful win on Friday on the road at Norfolk the Checkers returned to Time Warner Cable Arena to face a very competitive Houston Aeros. Both teams are fighting for play-off berths and with the season reaching crunch time things are really getting hot.
Charlotte has a season record of 59-35-19-2-3, while Houston is 58-29-21-4-4. The run-in will see plenty of top quality action from the leading teams with Charlotte chasing down the Texas Stars who are 59-33-16-4-6.
As expected the game went to the wire, with Charlotte winning a shootout with goals from David Marshall and Brett Sutter. Marshall had already opened his Checkers account when he tied the game in the 15.33 of the second period.
“We knew that coming in it was going to be a hard-fought, low-chance game,” said coach Jeff Daniels. “When you play Houston, you’ve just got to stick with it.”
The first period was goalless with Houston getting most shots on John Muse, 13 to Charlotte’s 5 on Aeros John Curry. In the fifth minute of the second period Matt Kassian hit a shot that went through Muse’s legs to put the Texas team in front.
In 15.33 of the second, Marshall received an assist from Bellevue and Rutherford before hitting a screamer past Curry. The second period saw a reversal in shots taken this time the Checkers had 12 against 6 by the Aeros. In period three the game was finely balanced with Charlotte having 14 shots while Houston had 12 but no further scoring.
“They play a really tough game and don’t give up many opportunities,” said John Muse, who improved to 5-2-0 this season. “They wait for you to make a mistake.”
Houston is always a tough proposition when they come to town tonight was not any different but the Checkers battled on and got their just desserts in the shootout. The Aero had some misfortune going in to the shootout when goalie John Curry was injured. He was replaced by Cody Reichard making his AHL debut.
Reichard had the unenviable task of facing Charlotte players with their tails-up; the final result was inevitable with Marshall and Sutter taking care of business.
Houston stays in town for a return game this afternoon at 3.00PM.