Sunday, April 6, 2014

Checkers shutout by Barons, drop to 10th in Western Conference

Following the Checkers loss in San Antonio on Friday, the team was scheduled to take a bus equipped with bunks for sleeping on their seven hour ride to Oklahoma City where they were set to play on Saturday and Sunday.

The bus broke down and the Checkers instead made the trip up 35 North on a coach bus, arriving in Oklahoma City at 7 a.m.

Just under 15 hours and 31 Richard Bachman saves later -- including several in the final moments with Charlotte goaltender John Muse pulled for an extra attacker -- the Checkers were dealt their third shutout loss of the season, 1-0, to the Barons in front of 3,957 at the Cox Convention Center.

The loss allowed Oklahoma City to pull even with the Checkers with 75 points this season. C.J. Stretch scored the game's lone goal in the second period to give the Barons the win.

Checkers forwards Zach Boychuk (three shots) and Chris Terry (two shots) -- playing in their third game (in their third city) in three days after being reassigned to Charlotte early on Friday from the Carolina Hurricanes -- combined to put five pucks on Bachman in the game.

The back-to-back losses by the Checkers this weekend have dropped them from eighth place in the Western Conference to begin their road trip to 10th. The Barons now own the tiebreaker with one fewer game played.

With five games remaining in the regular season, the Checkers, who played without third-leading scorer Aaron Palushaj (upper-body injury) who has been out since March 23, now have their work cut out for them if they want to sneak into the playoffs.

There are now four teams (Rockford, Oklahoma City, Rochester and Charlotte) within one point of seventh place in the Western Conference.

The Checkers will conclude their 12-game season series with the Barons on Sunday, with the puck drop scheduled for 5 p.m.

Notes: Charlotte is now 8-2-1 against Oklahoma City this season. ... Boychuk’s five-game point streak (5g, 6a) came to an end. ... Rookie center Victor Rask led the Checkers with five shots on goal. ... Forwards Greg Nemisz, Aaron Palushaj and Brendan Woods missed the game due to injury. ... Forward Phil Di Giuseppe and defenseman Dennis Robertson were the healthy scratches.

(h/t to Checkers team writer Paul Branecky for the heads up about the bus situation)