Thursday, February 6, 2014

Biega's two-goal night not enough for Checkers

The Abbostford Heat completed a two-game sweep of the Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday with a 4-3 win at the Abbostford Entertainment & Sports Center.

The losses dropped the Checkers, who hadn't lost consecutive game since Dec. 19-20, to 1-3-0 on thier now-concluded four-game road trip.

Rookie Defenseman Danny Biega notched his first two professional goals in the win, while Zach Boychuk upped his goal-total on the season to 22 (seven in his last five games). Boychuk now sits one goal away from tying his AHL career-high.

After entering Tuesday's 7-1 loss in the first period in relief of John Muse, Mike Murphy, was again in net for the Checkers. Murphy stopped 24 of 28 shots to fall to 3-6-0 on the season.

The Heat and Checkers traded goals, with Abbotsford scoring the first and, ultimately, last strikes of the game to improve to 30-14-1 on the season. The Heat (64 points) now sit three points ahead of the Texas Stars for first place in the West Division.

With losses in three of their last four the Checkers (22-22-1) now find themselves back at .500 on the season and five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

After being handed their largest road-defeat in team history on Tuesday,  the Checkers rebounded to out-shoot the Heat 37-28 in the game and 27-14 in the final two periods, but couldn't recover after Abbotsford rookie Corbin Knight netted his 13th of the season with 3:23 to play in the third period.

Brett Sutter (2a), Biega (2g) and Boychuk (1g, 1a) each registered multiple-point nights for the Checkers, despite the power play's continued struggles (0-for-4, 0-for-its-last-17-overall).

The Checkers -- who will face the Heat again in Raleigh at the PNC Arena on Feb. 14 and 16 -- are set to return to Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday for their annual Pink in the Rink game against the Oklahoma City Barons.

*Hearing the game is nearly sold out, so get your tickets now if you plan on attending. 

Notes: Defenseman Ryan Murphy continued to contribute, recording his fifth assist in as many games with the Checkers on Biega's second goal in the third period. ... For the first time this season Checkers coach Jeff Daniels chose to play seven defenseman. Forwards Matt Marquardt and Brendan Woods were Wednesday's healthy scratches, while Nicolas Blanchard and Jared Staal remained sidelined due to injuries. ... The 0-for-17 drought on the power play is the longest cold spell for the Checkers this season.