SPRINGFIELD, MA – Valentin Zykov scored two goals, including the game-winning goal 1:04 into overtime, to help the Charlotte Checkers defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds 3-2 ending the Thunderbirds winning streak at four games. The Thunderbirds have received a point in their last six games and have not lost in regulation since February 16 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
“We were down 2-0. (We) continued to play the right way and found a way to tie it and lost it in overtime. It was a good hockey game.” Thunderbirds Head Coach Geordie Kinnear said.
The Checkers got off to a quick start in the first period. Zykov scored the team leading 26th goal of the season for the Checkers 1:50 into the first period with a wrist shot to go past Thunderbirds goaltender Sam Montembeault to take the 1-0 lead. Seregy Tolchinsky received the assist.
The Checkers extended the lead to two when Nicolas Roy setup Aleksi Saarela and Saarela put it past Montembeault to make it 2-0 at 13:21. Janne Kuokkanen received the secondary assist.
The Thunderbirds best scoring chance in the first when Alex Grenier was on a breakaway as he was denied by Checkers goaltender Jeremy Smith with the pad save.
Anthony Greco got the Thunderbirds on the scoreboard for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season as he used a spin move and put the wrist shot over Smith to make it 2-1 with 12:26 remaining in the second period. Ludwig Bystrom and Alex Grenier received the assists on Greco’s goal.
Dryden Hunt tied the game for the Thunderbirds with 9:05 remaining in regulation with a one-timer to go past Smith with the setup from Curtis Valk as he made the pass to Hunt on the right side to tie it up at 2-2. Maxime Fortunus received the secondary assist.
The Checkers put an execution mark on the game 1:04 into overtime when former Thunderbird Greg McKegg took a shot from the left side and Zykov was able to put in the rebound past Montembeault for the game-winning goal and his 27th of the season to win it 3-2. Roland McKeown received the secondary assist.
The Checkers won the season series 5-3.
Thunderbirds goaltender Sam Montembeault made 35 saves in the overtime loss. Checkers goaltender Jeremy Smith made 25 saves in the win.
The Thunderbirds will finish their three games-in-three night run they head to the Dunkin Donuts Center this afternoon to take on the Providence Bruins at 3:05 p.m. The Thunderbirds have won the last two meetings in Providence as the most recent win was back on February 18.