CHARLOTTE, NC – After falling behind in the seventh minute to a Smith-Pelly goal, the Checkers fought back against their big rivals Norfolk Admirals, to win 3-2 in over-time. Goals from Chris Terry in the 22 minute of the first period and Jeremy Welsh’s 11th minute goal in the second period firstly tied the game and then gave Charlotte the lead.
Charlotte’s man of the night was defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani who assisted Terry with the equalizing goal on a power play and then went on to score the winner in the third minute of over-time. This was the third time Gragnani had scored this season and the second in successive games. He also had an assist in the second period goal scored by Welsh
The Checkers now lead the GEICO Challenge Cup with Norfolk with two games to go in the eight game series, the current score is 4-2-0 Checkers.
Injuries continue to plague the North Carolina team with five forwards on the injury list and two more in Raleigh with the Hurricanes. They have added David Marshall to the roster who played in the ECHL with the Reading Royals. Marshall had a hand in the Checkers tying goal in the first. Marshall’s shot towards goal was intercepted by Terry and diverted in to the Norfolk goal.
John Muse, Charlotte’s goalie, contributed strongly to the win. His performance was especially pleasing as he had allowed four goals in the loss to Oklahoma City Barons on Monday. Muse made 31 saves while his counterpart Frederick Andersen saved 19.
Andersen in the Norfolk goal made some spectacular saves in an effort to keep his team in the game thwarting Dolan, Terry and Rutherford.
Patrick Maroon tied the game for Norfolk in the third period when received a pass from Sami Vatanen sliding the puck past Muse. Gragnani spoiled the Admirals night with his winner giving him 27 points an amazing feat considering he had missed 21 games this season.
Charlotte now begin a home-stand with a visit from the Houston Aeros on Saturday and Sunday at Time Warner Cable Arena.