CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Goaltender Ryan Munce turned aside 30 shots, including several game-saving stops late in the third, and the Charlotte Checkers edged the Cincinnati Cyclones, 2-1, on Friday evening in Ohio.
Munce is now 7-3-1 in 11 games since taking over lone goaltending duties for the Checkers after Miika Wiikman was recalled to Hartford (AHL). Cincinnati came into the game undefeated in regulation in its last 11 games (9-0-2) and the Checkers were looking to avenge a 4-1 loss on Jan. 27, the only other meeting between the two teams this year.
Cincinnati and Charlotte traded scoring chances early on but were each unable to capitalize. Midway through the first period, Jean-Philipp Chabot centered a pass to Aaron Slattengren and Cyclones goaltender Jeremy Smith made an impressive save to keep the score knotted at 0-0.
Not to be outdone by his Cincinnati counterpart, Munce then made several excellent saves on a flurry of shots with three minutes left in the period.
The game remained scoreless after 20 minutes with the Cyclones holding a 9-8 shot advantage.
Early in the second period, Charlotte turned the puck over at the blueline and Cincinnati forward Dustin Sproat skated in alone on Munce. He faked left and let a shot go but the Checkers goaltender shut the door.
Cincinnati then opened the scoring at the midway point of the period. Centerman Mark Van Guilder won an offensive zone faceoff back to Scott Marchesi who immediately fired a wrist shot from the high slot. The shot deflected off a Checkers defender and past Munce for the 1-0 lead.
The Checkers answered with a goal of their own just six minutes later while on the penalty kill. Mike Taylor fed a beautiful backhand saucer pass over to Kevin Schaeffer who beat Smith between the legs to tie the game at 1-1.
With five seconds left in the period, Van Guilder was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit on Tyler Doig. The penalty would prove costly as Charlotte took its first lead of the game early in the following frame on the ensuing power play. Matt Schepke took a shot from the point that was tipped home in front by Julien Brouillette for the 2-1 lead. The goal was Brouillette’s 13th of the season and proved to be the game-winner.
With 1:22 left to play in the contest, Charlotte was assessed an interference penalty and Cincinnati went to work on the power play with a 6-on-4 man advantage. The Cyclones threw all they could at Munce, however the Checkers’ netminder made several point blank saves to preserve the victory and give Charlotte its 30th win on the season.
The Checkers (30-17-6) will continue on their three-game northern road trip before returning home on Wednesday, Mar. 3 to host Cincinnati. The puck drops at 7 p.m. and ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.