What a DAY! Today, I was so proud to be a Charlotte Checkers hockey fan. Being at TWCA, only a year after the Charlotte Checkers came into existence in their current form, they hosted a top-notch weekend full of events. From the fan fest yesterday, to an NHL game that by AHL standards would be above and beyond a sellout, you did good, Checkers!!! I have no idea why it took the Hurricanes 14 years to have an exhibition game in Charlotte, but I sure hope it becomes an annual event.
This was (at least?) the third NHL event in Charlotte during the past 17 years. In 1994 and 1997, exhibition games were held at the old Independence Arena between the Nordiques and Capitals, and the Panthers and Bruins. Until tonight, the Hurricanes had never played here. I have to wonder what it would be like to have a regular-season game here…. what an event that could be!!
I’m going to write my thoughts and observations in my traditional “Quick Hits” format.
I was glad this was more than just a Hurricanes game in Charlotte. There were a lot of elements of the Checkers there, which as a Checkers fan and STH, is important. I’m glad they implemented Checkers graphics and videos into the jumbotron, etc. The only thing missing was a “Let’s Go Checkers” chant!
- “Our” guys were the stars of the show. While Cam Ward was a well-deserved first star, the former Checkers stole the show. Zac Dalpe scored the first (and game-winning) goal early in the first period. Jerome Samson (the in-arena announcer pronounced his name wrong, I was disappointed!) and Riley Nash also added goals, with Nash and Justin Faulk each getting an assist on different goals.
- Riley Nash was fantastic. Before camp, he was rarely mentioned as one of the front runners for the one or two forward spots available in Raleigh, but after a game like tonight, the Canes have to be thinking of him favorably. At the very least, he should be one of the top call-ups.
- Once again, I was impressed by Brett Sutter. He’s got what it takes to be in the NHL. I love his grit and determination. He’s in my own personal running for a Captain or Alternate in Charlotte this year. (Because, you know, my opinions count on that!)
- Jonathan Matsumoto was in top form tonight. He nearly missed on a breakaway goal in the third period.
- There are a few things I noticed about Friday’s game in Raleigh vs. tonight in Charlotte. On Friday, the stars of the game were the Hurricanes regulars, and the guys locked into roster spots there. Tonight in Charlotte, the CheckerCanes as I like to call them were the superstars. They had a lot of confidence, and that confidence paid dividends.
- Do NBA games in Charlotte have as many fans as the Hurricanes did tonight? I need to get to a Bobcats game (if there are any this year) and compare…. I’ll call it research for this blog!
- LOTS of Atlanta Thrashers fans in attendance tonight. I was kind of sad for them, knowing they had their team ripped out from under them with absolutely no way to say goodbye or stop it from happening. But I’m glad they made it to Charlotte, and hope they enjoyed cheering for the Hurricanes tonight (as the handful I spoke to told me they were!)
- The new video screens on the scoreboard looked amazing! So much clarity and hi-definition! (Though, there is a noticeable seam on the bench side… it was a bit annoying for a graphics/lighting geek like myself!)
- I’m so glad Wilson was a part of the event. I’m glad there weren’t as many promotional activities for this particular game (though I do recognize their importance, even if they are a bit…. annoying), but just as was mentioned above, having Wilson there added to the Checkers home team atmosphere that made the event such a success.
- I’m not the most patriotic person in the world, but I really dislike the extra additions to the American National Anthem. I used to like RED, but I can’t get behind throwing every single player on the team into the anthem. It seems a bit disrespectful to me.
- I love hearing O Canada, and can’t wait to hear it this year at the Abbotsford games... though it’ll only be twice since the Checkers are being ROBBED by not getting to see the Hamilton Bulldogs or Toronto Marlies play!
- I’ve decided that in addition to the costumes worn by the Checkmates, I have another very big pet peeve. Rick Flair. The more I see the videos of him and his leathery skin and fake blond hair, I get a bit more grossed out. Is he really the type of “character” our hockey teams want to be affiliated with? Yuck. I will never woo.