Charlotte, NC, February 24, 2011 – The Connecticut Whale’s streak of five straight games with at least a standings point came to an end with a thud Thursday night, in a 5-1 loss to the Charlotte Checkers in the Whale’s first-ever visit to Time Warner Cable Arena.

CT WhaleWhale assistant coaches J.J. Daigneault and Pat Boller ran the Connecticut bench for the game, as Whale head coach Ken Gernander missed the contest.  Gernander was hospitalized overnight as a precautionary measure, after experiencing pain and swelling in his lower extremities earlier in the day.

Chris Terry scored a pair of goals for Charlotte in the win, Zac Dalpe had a goal and two assists and Drayson Bowman added a goal and an assist.

Charlotte jumped on top at 8:57 of the first period, on the fourth goal of the season for Matthew Pistilli.  Dalpe started a three on two break out of the Charlotte end, and Bowman found Pistilli unguarded between the circles.  Pistilli’s hard shot beat Whale starting goaltender Chad Johnson to the stick side.

The Checkers made it 2-0 at 14:13, just 18 seconds after the Whale had finished killing a penalty.  Kelsey Tessier blocked Bowman’s shot on the left-wing side, but Bowman was able to re-gather puck and work all the way around to the top of the right-wing circle, where he unloaded a drive that went through a screen and past Johnson.

Charlotte then broke the game open with three second-period goals, starting with a tally by Dalpe only 53 seconds in, again shortly after the Whale had killed a penalty.

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With Blake Parlett just out of the box after serving a slashing minor, Dalpe fanned on a shot from the right-wing side but got the puck right back, and was able to slip it between Johnson’s left skate and the post.

Terry then got the next two goals, his 24th and 25th of the season.

On a Charlotte power play at 11:47, Terry had Dalpe’s pass get by him in the right circle but was able to pick it up off the boards.  He then snapped a shot past Johnson from the faceoff dot.

Terry made the margin 5-0 at 15:13.  A Wade Redden attempted clearing pass was broken up near the Whale blueline, and Terry was able to stickhandle away from Redden and move from his backhand to his forehand, ultimately beating Johnson from the bottom of the right circle.  At the next stoppage, Johnson, who allowed five goals on 16 shots, was replaced by Dov Grumet-Morris, who would shut the door on the Checkers thereafter, stopping all 14 shots he faced.

The game became chippy in the third period, with the two teams combining for 46 penalty minutes, and the Whale were finally able to get on the scoreboard on a power play at 13:54.  The goal was credited to Evgeny Grachev, who jammed the puck into the goalmouth from the right-wing side after Redden threw it at the net, but replays seemed to indicate that Brodie Dupont, who had been knocked down in the crease, directed the puck in.  The goal ruined the shutout bid of Charlotte goaltender Mike Murphy, who finished with 26 saves.

The loss snapped a four-game road winning streak for the Whale, who fell to 28-23-2-6.  Fourth-place Worcester was idle, so the third-place Whale’s lead on the Sharks in the Atlantic Division standings remained at three points.

The Whale and Checkers battle again at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday night, with faceoff at 7:00 PM.

The Checkers are in their first year as an AHL franchise, after 17 seasons of play in Charlotte as an ECHL team.  For 16 of those years, the Checkers were the Rangers’ ECHL affiliate, with players going back and forth between Charlotte and Hartford, and before that, the Binghamton Rangers.

Connecticut Whale 1 at Charlotte Checkers 5
Thursday, February 24, 2011 – Time Warner Cable Arena

Connecticut 0 0 1 – 1
Charlotte 2 3 0 – 5

1st Period-1, Charlotte, Pistilli 4 (Bowman, Dalpe), 8:57. 2, Charlotte, Bowman 11 (Micflikier, Graham), 14:13. Penalties-Bickel Ct (interference), 11:55; Parlett Ct (slashing), 18:45.

2nd Period-3, Charlotte, Dalpe 18 (Rodney, Murphy), 0:53. 4, Charlotte, Terry 24 (Dalpe, Rodney), 11:47 (PP). 5, Charlotte, Terry 25 (Sutter), 15:13. Penalties-Bickel Ct (roughing), 1:47; Eizenman Ct (hooking), 11:25.

3rd Period-6, Connecticut, Grachev 15 (Dupont, Redden), 13:54 (PP). Penalties-McKenzie Cha (tripping), 2:51; Williams Ct (holding, unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:43; Blanchard Cha (roughing), 7:43; Nightingale Ct (roughing), 8:27; Weise Ct (fighting), 8:27; Boychuk Cha (roughing, roughing), 8:27; Terry Cha (fighting), 8:27; Bickel Ct (roughing), 9:35; Matsumoto Cha (slashing), 9:35; DiDiomete Ct (fighting), 12:10; Blanchard Cha (fighting), 12:10; Bellemore Cha (slashing), 12:22; Weise Ct (roughing), 14:50; Micflikier Cha (boarding), 14:50; FitzGerald Cha (slashing), 19:42.

Shots on Goal-Connecticut 9-8-10-27. Charlotte 10-6-14-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 4; Charlotte 1 / 5.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 16-18-3 (16 shots-11 saves); Grumet-Morris 4-2-1 (14 shots-14 saves). Charlotte, Murphy 17-9-3 (27 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Jeff Smith (49), Ghislain Hebert (49).
Linesmen-Paul Carnathan (93), Terry Wicklum (58).