The Charlotte Checkers went into the AHL’s holiday break wih back-to-back wins over the Providence Bruins at Bojangles Coliseum. The two-game sweep pushed the Checkers (14-11-2-1) up from fifth to fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
On Thursday, Charlotte rallied from a goal down when Connor Bunnaman scored a power-play marker with 6:36 remaining in regulation with the assists going to Gerry Mayhew and Riley Nash. Nash would end it 55 seconds into overtime when he sniped Brandon Bussi from for his tenth of the season from the high slot, giving the Checkers a 2-1 win. Rookie Santtu Kinnunen and Aleksi Heponiemi drew the assists on the winner. Alex Lyon made 21 saves as Charlotte snapped a five-game losing streak.
With the monkey off their back, the Checkers cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Bruins on Friday to jump the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the standings. Riley Bezeau, Kinnunen, Ethan Keppen, Heponiemi and Lucas Carlsson were the lamp-lighters. Zach Uens collected three helpers and Bezeau had two, the first assists of their respective professional careers. Other players with assists were Carlsson (2), Patrick Giles, Justin Sourdif and Dennis Cesana, Rookie Mack Guzda made 29 saves to raise his record to 6-3-2 on the season.
The Checkers will return to action on December 29, when they visit the Cleveland Monsters.
Riley Nash is headed to the Spengler Cup, which takes place from December 26-31 in Davos, Switzerland, as the Checkers leading scorer (10G/15A) was named to Team Canada. The other clubs taking part in the holiday tournament will be hosts HC Davos, HC Sparta Praha (Czechia), Orebro HK (Sweden) HIFK Hockey (Finland) and HC Ambrì-Piotta (Switzerland).