Sunday, March 2, 2014

Boychuk nets hat trick in Checkers win

Checkers forward Zach Boychuk entered the third period of Sunday afternoon's game against the Hershey Bears scoreless.

When the final horn sounded twenty minutes later with the score 6-3 in favor of Charlotte, the 14th overall pick in 2008 skated off the ice with his third hat trick of the season and sole possession of fourth in the AHL in goals this season with 27.

The win was the second in as many days over the Bears for the Checkers (26-26-3), who again pulled back to .500 on the season.

Justin Peters, who has one game remaining on his conditioning assignment from the NHL's Hurricanes (before he would need to clear waivers to remain with the team), finished the game with 37 saves.

Peters, who started in net for the Checkers on their opening night, is now 3-1-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .933 save percentage at the AHL level this season.

Defenseman Ryan Murphy (1g, 1a), who the Hurricanes selected in the first round in 2011, extended his franchise-record assist streak to 10 games, while also netting his first AHL goal of the season.

Chris Terry got the scoring started for the Checkers late in the first when he connected on a 5-on-3 power-play goal with three seconds remaining in the period. The goal was Terry's 19th of the season.

Second period goals by Mark Flood (his 13th of the season) and Murphy (1) put the Checkers up 3-0, 10:15 into the period.

The goal gave Murphy, who picked up the second assist on Terry's goal in the first, 17 points (1g, 16a) in the 15 games he's played with the Checkers. It also led to the ejection of Hershey coach Mike Haviland, who believed Bears' goaltender David Leggio (20 saves on 26 shots) had been interfered with.

Hershey recovered momentarily to score the game's next two goals before Boychuk took over in the third.

Just 39 seconds after the Bears had pulled to within a goal, Boychuk scored his first thanks to a slick set up from Aaron Palushaj (3 assists).

At the 15:13 mark in the the third, the 24-year-old Boychuk notched his AHL-leading 13th power-play goal of the season. And, with time running out, he completed the hat trick with an empty-netter.

The Checkers will look to extend their current winning streak to three games on Tuesday when they travel to Norfolk to take on the Admirals to makeup Jan. 28's postponed game.

Notes: Checkers center Sean Dolan (2 assists) registered his first multi-point night of the season. ... Greg Nemisz, who had missed the previous eight games due to injury, recorded an assist on Murphy's goal. ... The Checkers successfully killed off four Bears power plays and went 10-for-10 in the two-game series. ... Brett Sutter played in his 500th professional game. ... Flood's 13 goals this season are a Checkers franchise-record for a defenseman. ... With back-to-back wins over the Bears this weekend, the Chckers chances of making the playoffs have climbed to 13.7-percent (a jump of 4.9-percent) with 21 games to play, according to ... Forwards Justin Shugg and Brendan Woods (out 4-to-6 weeks), defenseman Keegan Lowe (illness) and goalie John Muse (injury) did not play.