Raleigh, NC– The Charlotte Checkers (AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes) beat the Heat 5-4 in overtime on Sunday night at PNC Arena. The Heat remain in first place in the Western Conference with a 32-15-4-1 record and 69 points.
After the Heat took a three goal lead into the second period, the Checkers kept them off the score sheet the rest of the way, and scored four unanswered goals to come away victorious. In the loss, Markus Granlund, Blair Jones, and Max Reinhart combined for six points on the evening for the Heat.
The Heat came out quick out of the gates with Josh Jooris scoring 24 seconds into the first period assisted by Corey Locke. The lead did not last long as the Checkers replied at the 1:34 mark with a goal from Aaron Palushaj to tie the game at 1-1. The Heat got their lead back with Derek Smith’s fourth goal of the season at 11:50, assisted by Corban Knight and Brett Olson. Just under a minute later, Blair Jones made it a 3-1 game scoring his 13th goal of the season, with the assists going to Granlund and Reinhart. Markus Granlund closed out the first period scoring with his AHL rookie leading 23rd goal of the season at 18:55, assisted by Jones and Reinhart.
During four on four play in the second period, Chris Terry and Justin Shugg scored goals 20 seconds apart and made it a 4-3 game going into the third period.
Chris Terry scored an early power play goal at the 1:48 mark, and tied the game at 4-4. Terry had an opportunity for the hat-trick as he was awarded a penalty shot at the 7:12 mark, but Ortio stopped him to keep the game tied.
Overtime was necessary, and in the extra session, it was Checkers captain Brett Sutter playing hero scoring the game winning goal at 1:53.
The Heat did not have a power play opportunity and killed off one of two penalties in the game.
Mike Murphy picked up the win in goal for the Checkers stopping 28 of 32 shots, while Joni Ortio was charged the overtime loss turning away 37 of 42 shots.
The Heat’s road-trip continues in Milwaukee on Friday, February 21st, and then close out the trip with a doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday against the Chicago Wolves. The Heat will be back in action on home ice February 29th and March 1st, against the defending champion, Grand Rapids Griffins.