Admirals edged by Charlotte Checkers, 5-4

CHARLOTTE (WITI) -- Forward Phil DiGiuseppe scored with 90 seconds remaining in the game to lead the Charlotte Checkers to a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Admirals Saturday night.

DiGiuseppe was able to find the loose puck in the crease after Trevor Carrick fanned on a pass from Andrew Rowe. Relief goalie Marek Mazanec was unable to cover the puck lying just beyond his left leg.

The game was tied at three with 9:16 remaining in the third period. That’s when a line-brawl erupted in front of the Charlotte net. The fight included Admirals goalie Magnus Hellberg and Charlotte goalie John Muse. When it was cleared up, Hellberg and teammates Jonathan Diaby and Mike Liambas were assessed game misconducts. Muse and his teammate Keegan Lowe were also shown the gate with game misconducts.

After the ejections of Hellberg and Muse, Mazanec came into the game for the Admirals and Drew MacIntyre entered the Charlotte net.

After the fracas, with the game tied, Charlotte forward Brock McGinn intercepted a pass by Admirals defenseman Anthony Bitetto. McGinn spun in there slot and blasted a shot past Mazanec at 12:58 of the third to put the Checkers up 4-3.

Milwaukee clawed back to tie the game at 16:34 of the third period. Pontus Aberg backhanded a shot wide but Brendan Leipsic gathered the loose puck behind MacIntyre and fed Colton Sissons, who buried his fifth goal of the season to make it 4-4.

The loss spoiled a good night for Milwaukee’s power play units. The team had been just 4-for-34 with the man advantage in the month of November but finished 3-for-4 on this night.

Charlotte claimed an early 1-0 lead when Chris Terry deflected a Carrick shot into the net at 4:58 of the first period.

The Checkers made it 2-0 with a power play goal at 1:30 of the second period by Justin Shugg.

Then, with Milwaukee on its first power play, Charlotte’s Ben Holmstrom was tripped after he stole the puck in the neutral zone and went toward Hellberg on a breakaway. Holmstrom was awarded a penalty shot and scored at 2:42 of the second. It was the first time Hellberg had allowed more than two goals in a game this season.

Still on that power play, Milwaukee finally got on the board when Bitetto found Austin Watson behind the Checkers defensemen. Watson drove to the net with Garrett Noonan on his left. Just as Watson was being caught from behind, he slid a pass to Noonan who buried his fourth goal of the season, first on the power play, at 3:15 of the second period.

The Admirals scored another power play goal when Pontus Aberg fired a rocket from the left circle after a feed from Leipsic at 5:34 of the second period. Aberg’s seventh goal (third on the power play) was assisted by Leipsic and Taylor Aronson.

Aberg’s eighth goal of the season (fourth on the power play) and second of the game came at 10:06 of the second period. This time Aronson recorded the primary assist with Leipsic getting the secondary. Like his first goal of the game, Aberg scored with a quick shot from the left circle.
Hellberg stopped 22 of 25 shots for Milwaukee. Mazanec stopped 8 of 10 in relief.

The Admirals and Checkers will play in Charlotte for the final time in the regular season Sunday afternoon. Milwaukee’s next home game is against Rockford Thursday, December 4 at 7 pm.