A questionable penalty call in the final 2 1/2 minutes made things tough on the Barons on Friday night.
And even though coach Todd Nelson insisted it wasn't what cost his team the American Hockey League game in a 2-1 loss to Charlotte, it sure looked to be that way.
The Checkers closed out the Barons with a power-play goal by Matthew Pistilli with 43.3 seconds remaining. It came off a pretty and perfectly-timed setup by Bobby Sanguinetti and Riley Nash.
But who knows how that game-clinching sequence might have been different had it not been for that questionable call?
It came 1 minute, 36 seconds earlier, when Barons defenseman Colten Teubert was called for roughing. Teubert made contact with a Checkers player shortly after a whistle for an offside play. The referee apparently thought it was excessive.
“I thought it was one of those things where he was just going to call the penalty just because of the late hit or whatever,” Nelson said. “I'll have to take a look at it on tape. But in those situations, we got to make sure that if we do hit somebody it's a clean hit. It could be questionable, but it doesn't really matter now because the ref made the call. That wasn't the issue in the game.”
That didn't keep it from stinging.
“It does, for sure,” said Barons captain Bryan Helmer. “It could have been a questionable call, but he made the call. It's unfortunate that they got a goal at the end.”
Oddly enough, the Barons entered Friday's game 22-for-23 in penalty kills at home. They were 3-for-3 in penalty kills before the game-winning goal.