CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brett Bellemore’s goal with less than four minutes to play was the difference as the Charlotte Checkers edged the Albany Devils, 3-2, in front of more than 8,000 fans at Time Warner Cable Arena Sunday.
Jon Matsumoto and Brett Carson recorded the Checkers’ other two goals and Mike Murphy was strong between the pipes stopping 26 of 28 shots for his fourth straight victory.
Brad Mills and Steve Zalewski scored for Albany while goalie Dave Caruso made 29 saves for his second solid outing in as many nights.
Midway through the second period, Albany struck first with a goal from Mills. After constant pressure in the Charlotte end, Rob Davison blasted a slapshot from the point that Mills redirected past Murphy.
Charlotte finally broke through to tie the game, 1-1, with 30 seconds remaining in the second period.
While shorthanded, Chris Terry drove down the left-wing boards, out-skated the defense and fed Matsumoto in front for the goal.
At 3:08 of the third period, Carson gave the Checkers their first lead of the night on a slapshot from the point. Riley Nash swept the puck up the right-wing boards where the 6-foot-4 defenseman hammered it over the glove of Caruso.
The lead was short-lived as Albany drew the game even at 2-2, less than three minutes later, on a power-play goal by Zalewski.
The Checkers, however, took a 3-2 lead with 3:38 remaining in regulation at the hands of an unlikely candidate. Jumping up into the play, Bellemore received a pass from Zach Boychuk and sniped a wrist shot past Caruso off the far post.
With 46 seconds remaining, Albany pulled Caruso in favor of an extra attacker, but couldn’t find the equalizer as the Checkers held on for a 3-2 victory.