Philippe Cornet scored 50 goals his three seasons with the Oklahoma City Barons.
On Saturday night, Cornet, now playing for Charlotte, scored the game-winning goal with 1:36 remaining as the Checkers rallied past the Barons 2-1 at the Cox Convention Center.
A 23-year-old left winger, Cornet was an American Hockey League All-Star with the Barons, helping Oklahoma City reach the Western Conference finals the past two seasons. The Edmonton Oilers, though, didn't re-sign the Val-Senneville, Quebec, product.
“Everyone in Oklahoma City was good to me. I still keep in touch with a lot of the players and coaches,” Cornet said. “It's always special when you score a goal late to win a game, but it was a little strange.”
Cornet signed with San Antonio in the offseason. Squeezed in a numbers game, not getting much ice time, the Rampage traded Cornet to Charlotte.
“My entire career has kind of been a roller coaster,” Cornet said. “I'm grateful I got a shot with Charlotte, a great team, a great organization.”
Cornet has scored 20 regular-season goals at the Cox Center, 23 including the playoffs. But Saturday's goal was his first against the Barons.
“Phil was a big part of this organization the first three years,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “It is kind of weird when a guy you had scores a game-winner on you. But Phil is that kind of player. He placed that shot really well on (goalie) Richard (Bachman).”
The Barons led 1-0 on rookie defenseman Martin Gernat's third goal of the season, all coming the past week. Charlotte tied it on a power-play goal late in the second period.
Both teams had some good scoring chances in the third period. Cornet produced the game-winner on a two-on-one play on a pass from Aaron Palushaj, who was in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the week.
“It's a game that could have gone either way,” Nelson said. “I thought we played much better for 60 minutes tonight. We had our scoring chances. Their goalie (John Muse) made some big saves. We had some chances to bury the puck but he either made the save or it was to the side of the net.”
Suffering back-to-back losses to Charlotte after winning the first three games of a seven-game homestand, Oklahoma City outshot the Checkers 37-33. The Barons also had a power-play opportunity with less than six minutes to play.
“This was a big weekend for us and we came up really short,” said Barons captain Anton Lander. “We have to play a little bit smarter there at the end. You can't give up two-on-ones. We also had a great chance on the power play. That's where me and others on the power play have to step up.
“Phil is a great guy, a great hockey player. He's always been good around the net, scoring big points. That's how it is in hockey. It's a business. Players come and go. Unfortunately for us Phil finished off the game.”