Not to be forgotten: Checkers won 3-1

calexander@newsobserver.comJanuary 6, 2013 

CHECKERS38.SP.010613.CCS

The Charlotte Checkers Jerome Samson (17) celebrates his goal with teammates Zach Boychuk (11) and Zac Dalpe (19) while the Admirals Devante Smith-Pelly (34) skates by during the third period of an American Hockey League hockey game between the Charlotte Checkers and the Norfolk Admirals at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on Jan. 6, 2013. The Checkers beat the Admirals 3-1. The Checkers are the Carolina Hurricanes highest level minor league franchise.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com

— A little forgotten today with all the news on the NHL labor agreement was the Charlotte Checkers winning 3-1 at PNC Arena.

Oh, yeah, that.

Feeding off a pumped crowd of 10,256, the Checkers fell behind in the first period but then surged to a 3-1 victory behind goaltender Dan Ellis. True, it was something of an audition for some of the Checkers -- the Canes' management and coaches were watching from a second-level box -- but it also was a solid, impressive performance.

Zac Dalpe, Chris Terry and Jerome Samson scored the goals, Ellis got the job done in net and the Checkers (20-11-5) walked away with a second straight victory in their Raleigh appearance. Dalpe's goal was shorthanded and tied the score 1-1.

"It was obvious the guys wanted to come in and make a good impression and show a lot of excitement early, and passion," Checkers coach Jeff Daniels said. "We wanted to make sure we kept it up for the whole 60 minutes and I thought we did that. This is where the guys want to be and hopefully one day they will be."

Ellis, a veteran goalie who has played 165 regular-season games in the NHL, said he was like so many who wondered when the NHL and NHLPA could finally hammer out a deal on a CBA. That happened in the early hours of Sunday morning and provided good breakfast banter for the Checkers players.

"It was great to hear. It was a long time and a wasted time really, to get to this agreement," Ellis said. "To get to this point and finally have an agreement, to actually have a season, is real positive. Hopefully what took them so long will be a positive for the business.

"More important is to do something for the fans and give something back. They kind of got drug through the mud in this. To come out and play a game (after) the announcement of the lockout ending, in an NHL building, with NHL fans and American League fans, it was a great start to the post-lockout era."

The fans seemed to enjoy it. So did the players. Ellis said the game was "almost like that first day of training camp." Everyone in the Checkers lineup, he said, appeared to have a little extra jump in their step.

"Everyone knows the brass is all here and everyone was trying to make a good impression," rookie center Jeremy Welsh said.

Welsh signed with the Canes out of Union College last year after the NCAA Frozen Four and played in the Canes' regular-season finale against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla. It was his first time on the ice in PNC Arena.

"It was cool," he said. "They're good fans. They were excited.

"It's a good building. It was lively. It was more lively than most buildings we're in. You could see the passion the fans have for the game."

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