Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/16/10 at 01:00 PM ET
On Friday night, the Charlotte Checkers played their first home game in the history of the AHL franchise. On hockey nights, the arena is configured for a capacity of 14,100 and it was nearly full with an announced attendance of 12,512. Unfortunately, the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins emerged with a 4-2 decision.
The Checkers looked a little slow and sloppy in their own end. They couldn’t sustain any offensive pressure, their passes weren’t crisp and goaltender Justin Pogge looked positively awful. Conversely, the Pens created a lot of havoc in front of Pogge’s net with no resistance. They were quick, they were aggressive, and they deserved the win.
Dustin Jeffrey, who led all with nine shots on goal, scored twice. The first goal was gift wrapped for him at 8:45 of the first when Pogge went behind the net and inexplicably passed it right to Jeffrey in the low slot for the easiest goal he will ever score.
Jerome Samson leveled the score at 3:10 of the second during a two-man advantage. It was a really nice pass from Jon Matsumoto across the slot for an easy tap-in.
Charlotte remained on the power play, but it didn’t go well from there. Their inability to penetrate the offensive zone hurt them badly. A Checkers player lost his footing at center ice (this happened all night long), which sprung Jeffrey on a short-handed breakaway. Pogge froze like a deer in headlights and failed miserably trying to make an upright save. Jeffrey didn’t need to pick a corner: Pogge gave him the whole right half of the net. 4:33 of the second on the shorthanded goal.
Joe Vitale made it 3-1 for the Pens at 14:17 of the middle frame with another unassisted goal caused by a turnover and lots of confusion in the Charlotte end.
Oskar Osala got one back for the Checkers at 3:00 of the third when a bouncing puck caromed off his hip and in the goal. It was one of the only times all night that there were Checkers players anywhere near Brad Thiessen’s net. Matsumoto picked up another assist on the play.
At 5:07 of the third, Steve Wagner made it 4-2 for the Pens, and that’s how the game ended.
The Pens had a chance for an empty net goal, but one of their defensemen missed the cage from just inside the blue line.
The same two teams will go at it again on Sunday afternoon at the Time-Warner Cable Arena. The game will not be as well attended.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.