NORFOLK, Va.- Charlotte scores twice in the final four minutes and thirty seconds for a 3-2 comeback victory and Geico Challenge Cup win over Norfolk Tuesday night at Scope.
Late in the first period, Emerson Etem got the Admirals on the board when he turned a loose puck in front of Charlotte goaltender Justin Peters into the top shelf. Max Friberg nudged it on for Etem and earned the assist at 18:25 of the opening period.
Charlotte answered exactly 10 minutes into the middle frame when Chris Terry broke loose and finished a breakaway chance low to the stick side past Admirals’ netminder John Gibson. Norfolk allowed a puck to leak out of the attacking zone along the boards and the Checkers’ leading scorer capitalized to tie it at one.
Midway through the final period, Dave Steckel squeezed a puck between the near side post and Peters off a rebound from the rear boards. Admirals’ defenseman Alex Grant drilled a puck deep that ricocheted back up ice towards Steckel who flicked it on net from a tough angle along the goal line.
Peters lost track of the puck that somehow slithered its way between the post and the Charlotte goalie. The goal counted with 9:27 to play in regulation and Norfolk was up 2-1.
Later on in the period, the Checkers responded once again. While Norfolk’s Antoine Laganiere was trapped in the penalty box for a hook, Philippe Cornet clamored for a loose rebound at the far post that he scooped up and over Gibson. Charlotte’s power play goal lit the lamp at 15:30 of the third
Just as the game looked like it was headed to overtime, the Checkers sprung an odd-man rush into Admirals’ territory. Winger Aaron Palushaj placed a pass across the slot for Sean Dolan who reached and one-timed a floater over the leg of an outstretched John Gibson.
Charlotte launched themselves into the lead with two goals in three minutes and 44 seconds and snatched the victory from Norfolk’s grasp with 46 seconds left to play.
The Admirals’ didn’t tally an equalizer and lost, 3-2, to the Checkers. With the fifth win of the season series, Charlotte secured the Geico Challenge Cup, the trophy awarded to the winner of the season series between the two sides.
John Gibson made 28 stops despite giving up the dagger with less than a minute to go. At the other end, Justin Peters saved 24 pucks and picked up his fourth win of the season.
Norfolk’s loss snapped their four-game winning streak and prevented the Admirals from taking the division lead over Binghamton. They have 70 points and remain in fifth in the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, the Checkers’ jump into tenth and are just five points out of a playoff spot.