The Chicago Wolves headed to the South for the first time this season, but encountered little of its famous hospitality.
Playing at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C, on Sunday afternoon for the first of two games against the Charlotte Checkers, the Wolves failed to take a lead through 60 minutes and fell 4-1 to their Western conference foes.
Chicago goaltender Matt Climie, in his third start of the season, made 29 saves on 33 shots, while Checkers netminder Justin Peters was good for 27 of 28.
A scoreless first period seemed to set the tone for a potential defensive struggle.
But then, pucks started finding mesh.
Charlotte (7-2-0-1) drew first blood at 6:25 in the second period when left wing Drayson Bowman stood patiently at Climie's doorstep and flipped a loose puck over the goalie's pad.
Not to be outdone, Brett Sterling stayed hot for the Wolves, extending his point streak to three games with a close-range tap-in past Peters at 16:58.
When a little extracurricular activity broke out in front of the Checkers net after the whistle, Chicago's Zack Kassian and Charlotte's Jeremy Welsh each got two minutes for roughing, but Sterling was also sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. It took all of eight seconds on the power play for the Checkers to regain the lead when Zach Boychuck redirected a pass from Bobby Sanguinetti over Climie at 18:01.
Brett Sutter extended the Checkers' lead to two at 18:59 in the second frame when he fired a puck at the Wolves' net that bounced off Climie's shoulder and into the mesh.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the third, the Wolves (6-3-1-0) tried to find a spark but it was extinguished when Charlotte lit the lamp again at 5:27 off a Riley Nash strike.
The Wolves and Checkers face off again Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST in Charlotte.