Owen Tippett scored a power-play goal and added two assists in the Charlotte Checkers 5-1 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds at Bojangles Coliseum. Tippett was named First Star for his effort.
The Checkers, coming off an eight-game road trip that saw them go 4-4, scored three times in the first 12:33 of the tilt to take commanding lead in its first March home game.
Florida Panthers prospects Cole Schwindt and Aleksi Heponiemi combined on the first goal, with Schwindt cashing in on Heponiemi’s return pass at 2:14 after a Springfield turnover. That’s 16 goals for Schwindt, tops among the Kiddie Cats brigade.
What a play between Schwindt and Hepo to get us going! pic.twitter.com/81qxPjzSZ7— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) March 12, 2022
A stellar pass by Tippett found Heponiemi open in front, but after he was stopped by Thunderbirds goalie Joel Hofer, Luke Henman was able to bulldoze the rebound home 4:08 after the Schwindt marker. With his second helper of the night, Heponiemi hit 20 assists.
The setup from Tippett on this one pic.twitter.com/yZP7iq14mh— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) March 12, 2022
After taking a short pass from Tippett, defenseman Matt Kiersted worked his way from the right boards into the slot and snapped a wrist shot by Hofer’s glove. The second assist on Kiersted’s fourth went to Seattle Kraken prospect Max McCormick.
The goals keep coming! pic.twitter.com/I8fx07zR9m— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) March 12, 2022
McCormick would set up fellow Kraken Alexander True 9:17 into the second to put Charlotte up by four.
Tippett would complete the scoring 2:44 later when he ended Hofer’s night, beating him from the top of the right circle after taking a crossing pass from Logan Hutsko. Dennis Cholowski drew the secondary helper. Hutsko leads the Checkers with 25 assists.
OK OK this guy is pretty good pic.twitter.com/NuqoWBtNEP— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) March 12, 2022
Joey Daccord had his shutout bid ended by veteran James Neal 6:32 into the final frame. Daccord stopped 44 of 45 shots to guide his club to the win after the hot start.
As for Tippett, he is up to five goals and 11 assists in 16 AHL games played, He is looking like a player who badly wants back in the NHL. Whether that next chance comes with the Panthers or a new team remains to be seen. With the trade dealing rapidly approaching we’re likely to find out soon.
The two clubs will meet again tonight at 6 p.m.