Saturday, October 18, 2014

Checkers swept by Griffins despite strong effort from a sick Brendan Woods

Brendan Woods woke up sick Saturday morning.

He tipped off the Checkers training staff and then did what he could to pull himself together. 

“It was up in the air a bit,” Woods said. “We were just taking precautions, but I felt good in warm ups and let the coaches and trainers know that I was good to go.” 

Woods – whose injury history is longer than most 22-year-old forwards’ – is back on the ice this year after a disappointing end to last season, where a knee injury cost him the final 25 games.  

After being sidelined with a broken leg earlier in his career and missing 31 total games in 2013-14, Woods had no intentions of sitting out Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins because of an illness.

“I’ve had a tough road in my career so far with injuries,” he said. "It’s just good to be healthy and I want to stay healthy.”

Woods’ physicality showed midway through the first period when he corralled the puck and carried it deep into the Griffins' zone with speed before sending a tape-to-tape pass to Phil Di Giuseppe for a slap shot that was tipped home by Jared Staal.

The puck found the back of the net at 6:14 in the first period and proved to be the lone goal of the game for the Checkers (1-4-0), who fell for the second time in as many days to Grand Rapids (3-1-0) in front of 5,917 at Time Warner Cable Arena.

“It’s a simple play,” said Woods, whose team surrendered two goals in the second and third periods. “That’s how our goals are going to be. They’re not going to be pretty. We’re going to be playing dirty and getting all those ugly ones. The ugly ones are just as good as the prettier ones. We’ve just got to keep plugging away."

For the second day in a row, Charlotte struggled to stay out of the penalty box (they allowed the Griffins nine power plays on Friday) and Grand Rapids took advantage, netting three of its four goals on the man advantage.

With the Checkers trailing 3-1 in the third, Woods was hit with a tripping penalty and his frustrations boiled over when he voiced his opinion that the play was a dive to the on-ice officials.

Woods’ words earned him a 10-minute game misconduct penalty, but the game was all but over at that point.  

“The way the score was and how the game was going, I was frustrated and I let my emotions get to me,” he said. “They’re a good team and they’re good on the power play. We knew that coming in to this weekend and we kind of shot ourselves in the foot by taking too many dumb penalties – me included.

“We have a great team in that locker room,” Woods continued. “We showed that for the first 15 minutes tonight when we dominated. We’ve just got to put a full 60 minutes together.”