2003 - 2004
March 23, 2004
Gardiner's return helps Generals to retain Carolina Cup
Generals - 4
Checkers - 1
BY KEITH TOLBERT
Special to the News & Record
GREENSBORO - Pete Gardiner was getting a little tired of scouting teams the Greensboro Generals played, but that's about all he did for two months while recovering from an injury.
He returned to the Generals' lineup Monday night and helped fuel a first-period scoring frenzy as the Generals beat the Charlotte Checkers 4-1 at the Greensboro Coliseum in a game postponed a month ago because of snow.
The victory enabled the Generals to hold on to the Carolina Cup for the second year in a row and remain firmly in the hunt for a playoff berth in the ECHL's Southern Division.
"It was just a week-to-week thing. I never knew how long it would take," Gardiner said. "Being around the guys you feel like you're part of the team, but you just want to contribute,"
Gardiner nearly contributed in the first 30 seconds when his first shot hit the post. After the Generals regained control of the puck, Gardiner found a wide-open Mark Turner in the right circle, and Turner's slap shot gave the Generals a 1-0 lead with only one minute gone in the game.
Gardiner assisted on another Turner goal in the first period and a Mike Bayrack goal in the third period to make his presence felt in his first game back.
"You never plan these things," Gardiner said. "I would have liked to have had a goal. I wanted to help the team as much as I could. The biggest thing was the win."
Nobody has to tell Generals coach Rick Adduono how important Gardiner's return is to the Generals playoff hopes.
"He had no choice but to make an immediate impact," Adduono said. "I told him that before the game. He's the size we've been missing. To be off for two months and play as well as he did just shows you how good he is."
Gardiner admitted he was a little tired late in the game, but he knows his durability will improve now he is back on the ice.
"I've been working out for the past couple of months," Gardiner said. "But that's nothing like actually playing in a game."
The Generals built a 3-0 lead after a goal by Joel Irwin and a second goal by Turner.
Meanwhile, goalie Jamie Hodson was getting the job done between the pipes by stopping 38 of 39 shots.
Hodson made several spectacular saves in the third period, helping the Generals kill off a 5-on-3 Charlotte power play.
Hodson made one save with his stick hand because his stick got knocked away during the scuffle.
"The best penalty killer is your goaltender," Adduono said. "But I have to give credit to all the defense. They battled and used their sticks well."
The win moved the Generals into a tie for third place in the Southern Division and only one point out of second place. The Generals will take to the ice again tonight to take on last-place Greenville, a team that beat them 2-1 last week.
"They've got nothing to lose and we've got everything to gain," Adduono said. "We've got to put it all on the table (tomorrow night). You have to fight through every little obstacle this time of the season. There is no time to be tired or sore. That's the only way to get to the playoffs."
Generals - 4
Checkers - 1
Site: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro
Why the Generals won: The Generals set the tone with three first-period goals.
Stars: Greensboro - Mark Turner 2 goals; Pete Gardiner3 assists; Mike Bayrack 1 goal, 2 assists; Jamie Hodson 38 saves.
The play: After Charlotte cut the lead to 3-1 in the second period, Mike Bayrack put the game out of reach with a power-play goal in the third period. It was Bayrack's team-leading 34th goal.
What they said: "We came up with the two points and that's all that counts." - Rick Adduono, Generals coach
Records: Greensboro 37-27-1. Charlotte 31-28-8.