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Charlotte Checkers 2 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 1

Jan. 6, 2017

– On the road and facing one of the AHL’s best and hottest teams, Charlotte Checkers goalie Daniel Altshuller stopped 33 shots to author a 2-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

Charlotte (13-19-2-0) began the night tied for last place in the league but was able to parlay Altshuller’s play and a pair of first-period goals into an upset of the Griffins (21-9-1-2), who had earned points in 15 of their previous 17 games to ascend to the top of both the Central Division and Western Conference standings.

Grand Rapids, which had gone 6-0-0-2 on home ice since last losing in regulation here on Nov.18, will look to resume its recent run when the Rockford IceHogs pay a 7 p.m. visit on Saturday.

After failing on two early power play attempts, the Checkers drew first blood with 3:29 left in the opening period. Patrick Dwyer carried the puck into the Griffins’ zone and fed a pass across to Dennis Robertson, who fired a wrister high into Cal Heeter’s net from the top of the right circle.

Charlotte capitalized on a Grand Rapids turnover to push its advantage to two in the final minute of the frame. Keegan Lowe sped up the left side before centering a pass to Dwyer, who kept a step on Evgeny Svechnikov and redirected the puck past Heeter at 19:13.

Svechnikov gained his revenge 2:03 into the second, as the rookie and 2015 first-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings tallied his eighth goal of the season, potting Tyler Bertuzzi’s pass from the left faceoff dot during a power play.

Still trailing by one through 40 minutes, the Griffins out-shot the Checkers by a 14-2 count in the third period but could not score the equalizer, coming closest when Martin Frk rang a shot off the post with less than two and a half minutes remaining.

Heeter finished with 23 saves, helping to deny all five Charlotte power plays and maintaining Grand Rapids’ chances of a rally throughout, but he suffered his first loss as a Griffin against three victories. Including his 10-1 record with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, it marked just his second defeat in 2016-17.

Three Stars: 1. CHA Dwyer (game-winning goal, assist); 2. CHA Altshuller (W, 33 saves); 3. GR Svechnikov (power play goal)