CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WSYR-TV) – After the Syracuse Crunch built a two-goal lead, the Charlotte Checkers rallied with three unanswered goals to steal a 3-2 win tonight at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Gemel Smith and Chris Mueller potted the only goals in the first period before Charlotte went on a run that downed Syracuse and dropped the team to 14-10-2-0 on the season. The Checkers are 3-0-0-0 in the four-game season series.
Goaltender Spencer Martin stopped 26-of-29 in net for the Crunch. Alex Nedeljkovic turned aside 16-of-18 between the pipes for the Checkers. Syracuse went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Charlotte was 1-for-5.
The Crunch were first on the board 4:44 into the game. After Danick Martel forced a turnover in the neutral zone, Alex Barre-Boulet grabbed the loose puck and skated it back into the zone. The puck rolled off his stick as he toe-dragged around a defender, but Smith followed behind and sent home a slap shot from the high slot.
Syracuse doubled their lead with a power-play goal late in the opening frame. Cory Conacher faked a shot from the right circle before passing down to Barre-Boulet along the goal line. He quickly redirected the puck across the crease for Mueller to finish off on the back door.
The Checkers began their comeback at the 8:07 mark of the second period. Jake Bean’s shot was stopped by Martin, but the rebound went up for David Gust to knock in out of midair. Morgan Geekie earned the secondary assist.
Halfway through the third, Charlotte tied the game during 5-on-3 play. Geekie and Kuokkanen passed back and forth along the end boards before feeding Chase Priskie for a one-timer from the right circle.
Charlotte took the lead with 2:37 remaining in the final frame. Kuokkanen dug the puck out from the right corner boards and sent it towards Geekie wheo settled it down and threw a shot on net that got past Martin.
The Crunch and Checkers rematch tomorrow at 6 p.m.
Crunchables: Gemel Smith has four goals in the last two games…Cory Conacher is on a five-game points streak (3g, 4a).