October 14, 2022 – American Hockey League (AHL) – Charlotte Checkers Press Release
CHARLOTTE, NC — The Checkers opened the 2022-23 season in spectacular fashion, beating the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-3 in overtime.
Deadlocked after 60 minutes, it didn’t take long for Charlotte to get it over with. Just 35 seconds into the extra frame, Anton Levchi – playing his first North American professional game – picked up a smooth feed from Riley Nash in the left circle and smashed his way through the mouth of the crease, lighting the lamp for the second time tonight and delivering two points for the home side.
Checkers and Wolf Pack traded goals for much of regulation, with Aleksi Heponiemi scoring the first tally of the season in under five minutes and Levchi converting on the man advantage early in the second. Former controller Julien Gauthier broke the pattern midway through the third and gave Hartford its first lead of the contest, but new addition Chris Tierney came into the clutch. With less than eight minutes to play, the veteran striker scored the equalizer and put the game on track for extra time.
Making his first start in a Charlotte sweater, JF Berube made 19 saves in a game-winning effort, while the rest of the Checkers defense snuffed out Hartford’s offense – allowing just one shot in third frame.
Coach Geordie Kinnear on the game
“It was good. I think the chemistry was built over time and they were having a bit of a hard time playing. They’re probably sick of training and sick of all the meetings and videos and stuff. that and they just wanted to play, so I thought they did a good job. A lot of mistakes obviously, but we knew that and we were going to accept that. We wanted to play with the way we wanted to play with the identity , and we’ve seen flare-ups of that. We’re going to build from that.”
Kinnear on his experienced players
“They do it the right way. You look at Nasher, Chris, Mayhew and all those guys, they do it the right way. If I’m a young man, I learn more from those guys than from the staff at coaches, so I’m going to watch how these guys perform game by game and keep improving.”
Kinnear on Anton Levchi
“Two goals, but what I liked was that I asked him to do certain things with his skating and his legs, and he did it and you get rewarded when you do it the right way. “
Chris Tierney on the game
“I thought we were good and I thought we were playing fast. We had some big changes in the o-zone and the guys were coming back and closing the gaps early. I was happy with the way we played.”
Tierney on the youth roster
“All of these guys were good junior players and they played in great games. You come to professional level and play in great games, that’s how you learn. I thought everyone was doing a good job and some of the youngsters looked really good there tonight.”
Tierney on his first game in Charlotte
“It was fun. It was a rowdy crowd there and they were cheering and pushing the boys forward. It was fun.”
Tierney on Levchi scores two goals
“It’s good when you can score early. He’s got a lot of hands on him and you’ve seen what he can do tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised if you keep seeing that from him.”
Levchi, the reigning Finnish league most valuable player, was playing his first career game in North America… Riley Nash, who was playing his first women’s game since May 4, 2013, had two assists. Nine players (Levtchi, Gerry Mayhew, Tierney, Justin Sourdif, Riley Bezeau, Anthony Bitetto, Calle Sjalin, Santtu Kinnunen and JF Berube) made their Ladies debut. It also marked professional debuts for Sourdif and Bezeau… Forwards Ethan Keppen and Serron Noel, and defenders Max Gildon and Zach Uens were healthy extras. Goalkeeper Alex Lyon has served the first of a two-game suspension that continued last season.
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