About ChasingCheckers

I blog about hockey, hockey etiquette, and the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League

Despite Drew MacIntyre’s Mr. Miyagi like glove saves, Checkers lose in the shootout to San Antonio

In a game that saw the two most experienced goaltenders to ever play for the Checkers face each other, it was a pretty uneventful matchup until a huge hit by Trevor Carrick led to a pair of fights that changed the momentum of the game for the Checkers.

Checkers rookie Dennis Robertson took on the Rampage’s Garrett Wilson while Kyle Hagel fought Connor Brickley.

Hagel, who as of tonight, took over as the AHL leader in major penalties, was impressed with the physical play of his rookie teammates.

“Dennis Robertson gets in there and just gets the meat tenderizer on that guys face,” Hagel said, “I loved it.”

With momentum and the hometown crowd on the side of the Checkers, a few minutes latelr, Jared Staal fed the puck to Trevor Carrick, who scored a game tying goal, his first as a pro.

Late in the period, Chad LaRose scored his second goal in two nights, and the team’s second power play in as many nights as well.

San Antonio pulled Dan Ellis, and with 17 seconds to go, the Rampage were able to tie the game.

Overtime, as it always seems to be, was a nail biting experience.  Rasmus Rissanen was charged with a tripping penalty, and the Checkers excellent penalty kill combined with Drew MacIntyre’s quick glove kept the home team in the game.

The Checkers and Rampage ended up going into an eight-round shootout, with both goalies stopping nearly every shot.  Finally, Alex Petrovik, the Rampage’s eighth skater, got a puck passed MacIntyre, and the Checkers walked away with a single point.

Charlotte faces San Antonio again on Sunday afternoon.

Checkers play another Admirals team, lose in OT.

It only took 25 seconds for Justin Shugg to score the first goal of the game against Norfolk’s goaltender Yann Danis. It was Shugg’s 50th career AHL goal, and his seventh in just 12 games after starting the season injured. Despite missing eight games, he is still second on the team in goals scored this season.

Coach Jeff Daniels has been emphasizing the Checkers need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey every game, and they nearly did that.  Charlotte led for over 58 minutes of the game, but it wasn’t enough, because in less than two minutes, late in the third period, and two quick goals by Nic Kerdiles , the harder-working Norfolk Admirals were able to tie up the score and take the game into overtime. (Kerdiles, by the way, was credited with 11 SOG for Norfolk)

John Muse faced 50 shots by the Admirals, but it was the final one, with 7.8 seconds to go in overtime, that got the win for Norfolk.  The Checkers were outshot 44-18 in regulation and only got two shots off during the nearly seven minutes of overtime.

Charlotte had five power play opportunities, but were unsuccessful scoring on any of them.

“We got two timely goals, but other than that we didn’t create much offense,” Daniels said, “The power play was awful. They outworked us and they deserved the win.”

  • The point Charlotte earned in the OT loss at home was the fifth point in the past four days.
  • The Checkers have gotten seven points (out of eight) in their past four games against (both) Admirals teams at home.
  • The Checkers will face a team named something OTHER than the Admirals on Saturday night at home.

Thanks to #MACnificent play by Drew MacIntyre, Checkers win back-to-back games against Milwaukee Admirals

On this final day of Thanksgiving weekend, I’m grateful for many things, but especially a second Checkers win in a row, and the piece of leftover pumpkin pie I’m enjoying while I write.

Pumpkin pie is delicious. I'm thankful for this and a second Thanksgiving weekend Checkers win.

Pumpkin pie is delicious. I’m thankful for this and a second Thanksgiving weekend Checkers win.

With a goal by Justin Shugg, the Checkers 3-2 shootout victory over the Milwaukee Admirals led to their first back to back wins of the 2014-15 season, thanks to stellar goaltending from first star Drew MacIntyre, who I gave the hashtag #MACnificent to following another outstanding performance.

The game was full of firsts for the Checkers.  It was their first win of the season after trailing at the end of the first period, their first trip to the shootout, and their first back-to-back wins.

The Checkers, who reached overtime for only the third time this season, faced the three-on-three portion for the first time. A new rule in 2014 saw OT being lengthened to a seven minute period, with the first four minutes being 4-on-4 and the final three 3-on-3 hockey. The formula for what skaters to play was constantly changing between two defensemen and one forward, or two forwards and one defenseman.

“It’s exciting. It’s crazy on the bench. You’re trying to see f you want to go two D or two forwards.  It was our first experience with it but for me, it’s exciting,” Daniels continued, “We won the game in a shootout, but I’d rather see the game won four-on-four or three on three.”

Beau Schmitz, who was back in the lineup for his second game in a row after sitting out since October 25, saw a lot of ice time during the afternoon matchup, and contributed an assst on AJ Jenks game-tying goal in the third period.  His perspective on Justin Shugg’s recent play, and game-winning shootout goal is one shared by Checkers players and fans a like.

“He’s [Shugg] been playing great. He’s a benefit to have back in the lineup. Goal scoring and getting pucks out.”

(Editors note: Shugg was standing nearby when this was said, and even after Shugg chirped Schmitz a bit, Beau stayed positive, so it must be true!)

Schmitz, like all of the Checkers players, experienced three-on-three OT hockey for the first time in his career.

“It’s a bit different. It’s exciting,” Schmitz said, “I haven’t even watched something like that before.”

Drew MacIntyre, who stopped all five of the shots he faced in extra time and then perfect in the shootout, had an intense seven minutes of overtime, including the first minute that left the Checkers short handed to a late third period penalty by AJ Jenks.

“It’s not ideal, not good for the old heart,” MacIntyre sad with a smile, “It was a good test for us. Our PK wasn’t good enough last night. It was a good test for us. We played well tonight.”

MacIntyre was glad Charlotte had the first try at three-on-three OT hockey, but it’s not his first choice for ending a hockey game.

“Obviously, I like it in the playoffs where you just keep playing. That’s hockey. That’s intense…. I like overtime. I like shootouts when I win, but when I lose I hate them.”

Other Admiral thoughts (get it? Admiral thoughts?)

  • The Checkers are in the midst of a four-game home winning streak, including three games against Admirals teams (of Norfolk and Milwaukee, combined).
  • Maybe, with the recent Checkers home-streak against Admirals teams, the Checkers can get the league to change all the other teams to the Admirals. But then it would be like the Harlem Globetrotters facing the same team every night, but they have a great win-streak going, so I might be onto something.

Checkers win a fight filled, goalie brawling game against the Milwaukee Admirals.

At first, the game tonight between the Charlotte Checkers and Milwaukee Admirals seemed like a typical game between former-division rivals with a long history (well, four years, but that’s the majority of the Checkers AHL existence!).

It was no surprise that the Checkers first goal of the game came from Chris Terry of the Carolina Hurricanes, who spent the past four seasons in Charlotte and is the Checkers leading scorer of all time. Terry tipped in a shot by Trevor Carrick, who finished the game with three assists.

By three minutes into the second period, the Checkers were up 3-0 over a very tough Admirals team, who’s Magnus Hellburg,  the hulking 6’5” goaltender who’s GAA leads the league (not surprisingly) at 0.96, and a save percentage 0.961, was between the pipes opposite Charlotte’s John Muse, in his second home appearance of the season.

That’s when the dreaded 3-0 hockey lead came back to bite the home team. The Checkers got into penalty trouble (Keegan Lowe, Gabriel Dejardins and Dennis Robertson, in that order). The Admirals scored three power play goals in a row, and tied the game by the midway point of the second period.

The score stayed 3-3 for the next 20 minutes, when things got a little crazy. A fight in Muse’s crease between Milwaukee’s Michael Liambas and Rasmus Rissanen. It appears that Liambas took offense to a huge hit Rissanen had dealt an Admirals player, and after Kyle Hagel joined the fight, Muse decided to add a few of his own jabs.

Moments later, Hellberg crossed the red line and swapped blows with Muse, joining a chaotic frenzy that took a while to clean up.

In the end, Muse and Hellberg were both ejected from the game with matching secondary altercation/game misconducts and fighting majors. Hellberg was given the additional two minutes for crossing the red line.

Keegan Lowe received a game misconduct for his secondary altercation, and Michael Liambas received a game misconduct for two fighting majors in one game, or rule 20.4, which was added to the AHL rulebook this season.

So with only nine minutes to go in the game, the Checkers and Admirals were both forced to send a new goaltender into the game, and it quickly became a showdown of which off-the-bench goalie could make the best saves.

Marek Mazanec faced eight Checkers shots during his half-period of play, and stopped all but two of them. In the end, it was Drew MacIntyre who prevailed. He faced two shots in his 9:16 of ice time, and the one save he made was enough for him to come away with the win.

 

With only about 18 hours until the next matchup between the Checkers and Admirals, emotions may still  be running high tomorrow. Coach Jeff Daniels

“Well, we want to play the game on our toes and excited.  We don’t want to get into penalty trouble like we did today.”

Brock McGinn, who scored Checkers fourth goal, said the third period scrum gave the Checkers a new burst of energy.

“It definitely gets us going,” McGinn said, “You know, we wanted to go out there and keep our concentration the rest of the period, and I think we did.”

Trevor Carrick, who contributed three assists in the Checkers winning effort, expects the rematch tomorrow will be exciting.

“The emotions were running pretty high there. Tomorrow is going to be a big test for us. The game today is going to carry on tomorrow,” Carrick said, “It should be a pretty physical game. Pretty heated. So, those are the fun kind of games and I’m looking forward to it.

 

Random thoughts that don’t fit anywhere else:

  • In an ongoing effort to come up with new cheesy hashtags for in-game tweeting, I’m experimenting with #McGinnItToWinIt. It’s fun, but nothing will ever top #Terryiffic of #Shuggernaut
  • A special shout out to the great Nathan Beasley for coming to the rescue when I forgot a pen. This story couldn’t have been written without his hard work and hustle.
  • John Muse’s family was at the game tonight. Is he too old to get a mom lecture where his full name is used?
  • I miss Justin Pogge. It must be a goalie fight that makes me reminisce about the former Checkers netminder who “lost his mind” in Hershey, PA in 2010.
  • Every time I see the #CheckersComeHome video I get a little more excited about the move to Bojangles Coliseum next year.

Checkers announce move “home” to the birthplace of hockey in Charlotte and relocate to Bojangles Coliseum in 2015-16.

The Checkers announced today that they would be moving out of Time Warner Cable Arena next season, and back to the birthplace of hockey in the south, the old Charlotte Coliseum on Independence Blvd, which is known today as Bojangles Coliseum.  The Coliseum is on the Charlotte historic register, and is the largest free-standing dome in the world since Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena was demolished in 2011.

As most hockey historians know, the first professional hockey game was held at Bojangles Coliseum in January, 1956 after the Baltimore Clippers arena burned down, and the team needed a temporary home to play the remainder of the year.  Hockey had never been played professionally in the South, and the Checkers success was crucial to the southern expansion of the sport. In the fall of 1956, the Clippers relocated permanently to Charlotte, and later became the Charlotte Checkers, a team that has been a fixture in Charlotte for much of the past 60 years.

The Checkers moved to uptown Charlotte in 2006 when TWCA was built and the NBA returned to Charlotte with the Bobcats, and now Hornets.  In 2010, the Checkers were upgraded to the AHL after many successful seasons in the ECHL.

I’ve been a fixture at Checkers games regularly since 2010.  The first hockey game I ever attended was in 1993 at the old coliseum.  I don’t have as many memories of games at the old barn, but from what I’ve been told, the atmosphere was electric.

I’ve also been lucky enough to visit a number of AHL hockey arenas over the past five season.  Hershey, which has a similar capacity to Bojangles Coliseum, is an exciting place to watch a game (especially in the playoffs, when the Checkers win a game!).  Rockford and Peoria were also outstanding venues, because the size of the arena was a better fit to the fan base.  A full building is always an exciting building.  Both of those arenas were located in downtown areas, but the smaller size made it much more fun than the vast, empty TWCA on most Checkers nights.

Will I miss having games in uptown? Heck yes.  I work uptown. I spend a lot of my free time there as well, at local bars and restaurants.  I love the convenience of TWCA and the fact I never have to pay to park because I walk there from work, and have dozens of choices of places to meet friends and family for drinks before or after games.

Though those are certainly downfalls and inconveniences for me, the move to Bojangles Coliseum is going to be a good one for the city of Charlotte, the Checkers and the fans, and here are just a few reasons:

  • Instead of having to curtain off the top half of a gigantic building, Checkers fans will be able to fill the coliseum night after night, from top to bottom. Can you imagine the sound of a game under the Bojangles dome? It will be incredible.
  • The Charlotte Checkers will no longer have to pack up and travel to Indian Trail for practice. Having their own home ice for games and practice will be a huge benefit to the team.
  • The Checkers will have their OWN building. They won’t be the minor league team that rents an NBA arena 36 times a year, but as the primary tenant at Bojangles, they will have a space that will be Charlotte Checkers, through and through.
  • The schedule will be much improved for home games. Instead of having to play second fiddle to the Hornets (and the circus, and Disney on Ice, and every other event), the Checkers will have a say in when their home games are played, and won’t be competing with other tenants at TWCA.
  • The Checkers (and Clippers) won six championships (in a number of different leagues) while they played at Bojangles Coliseum. They have not yet won a championship at TWCA, so maybe a move back to their roots is what is needed to get back in the championship chase.
  • An upgraded Bojangles Coliseum will be a huge step towards revitalizing East Charlotte and Independence Blvd. As an East-side resident, this excites me a great deal. The venue has so much history. The list of people who have performed under it’s dome is a long one: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, The Who, The Jackson 5, Judy Garland, The Rolling Stones… you get the idea.
  • I’d much rather see the city of Charlotte upgrade Bojangles Coliseum to what it was designed and built to be, a hockey arena and sports venue, then the dumb youth basketball court they talked about doing recently.
  • The $16 million in upgrades are long overdue for this historic venue. Instead of being a city that bulldozes new construction when it no longer serves a purpose (Tyvola Road Coliseum, most of uptown Charlotte, etc.) I’m happy to see the city preserving and revitalizing what they have. Charlotte is a world class city, and our history is important. I’m excited to see what they can do for $16 million, though I know it won’t be enough.

What are my fears of the move? They are few, and mostly have to do with human nature having a hard time with change.

  • $16 million isn’t a lot of money. Technology is EXPENSIVE, and new videoboards, seats, lighting, a sound system, bathroom upgrades etc. cost a lot of money.  Last summer the Belk Theater spent $1.6 million to replace 2000 seats and upgrade ONE bathroom, and Bojangles Coliseum is five times the size.  New dressing rooms and the backstage areas are in disrepair at Bojangles, and will require more than just a coat of paint to freshen them up.
  • The Hornets claim that they need $30 million to upgrade TWCA… and it’s a much newer building that got a number of upgrades for the recent 2012 Democratic National Convention. Where is all that money going, and why do they need it over a historic building that hasn’t been upgraded practically since it opened in 1956?
  • Parking at Bojangles might be a drag. I live close by the Coliseum, but not close enough to walk, and public transportation isn’t an option. The City of Charlotte charges $10 to park for events at Bojangles and Ovens Auditorium. This is way too much, and I don’t look forward to shelling out that kind of cash!
  • I’m going to miss all of the options in walking distance of the arena. I enjoy sharing a beer before and after games and on the nearly-dead Independence Blvd., this won’t be an option.

All in all?  Two thumbs up for this historic move home to the birthplace of hockey in Charlotte.

There was #Norfolkingway the Ads could stop a red-hot Checkers team. The good guys win 6-2 in Charlotte.

In a game that wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the score may have alluded to, the Charlotte Checkers defeated the Norfolk Admirals 6-2.  John Muse, in goal for Charlotte, stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced, received his first win of the season after making only three previous appearances, one which was in relief of Drew MacIntyre.

In net for the Admirals was Yann Danis, a veteran of the NHL, AHL, KHL and NCAA.  It was his second appearance this season after being signed to a PTO by Norfolk on November 15.  Also in the lineup for the Admirals was Matt Pistilli, a four-year veteran of the Charlotte Checkers.  He was signed by the Admirals yesterday to a PTO after starting the season in the ECHL with Fort Wayne.

The Checkers captain and alternates all had outstanding nights.  Captain Michal Jordan scored a goal that ended up the game winner early in the second period, and the players with A’s on their jerseys also had strong showings.

Alternate captain Chad LaRose had four shots-on-goal in the first period and ended the night with two assists in the third period, including a shorthanded goal while playing on the Checkers top penalty kill unit.

Greg Nemisz had an exceptionally strong third period.  He scored two goals, and assisted on Justin Shugg’s third goal in as many games after sitting out the first month of the season due to injury.

Notes that have little or nothing to do with hockey:

  • Please excuse the lack of quotes in this piece. Writing a game story at a bar means I can’t hear my iPhone for the interview quotes it has stored on it.
  • shuggernautI need new cheesy hashtags. Without #Terryiffic I feel lost, though I was pleased to see the official Checkers twitter account used #Shuggernaut, something penned by @Swamphockey and adopted by me years ago.  We even had a graphic for it… suggestions for new player hashtags? I’m all ears!

Charlotte Checkers lose 3-1 to Hamilton Bulldogs in first-ever matchup of the two teams.

In Charlotte’s first-ever game against the Hamilton Bulldogs, the home team lost by a score of 3-1.

The Checkers had a strong first period, outshooting the visiting team, and putting a great deal of offensive pressure on the Bulldogs.

Chad LaRose scored the Checkers lone goal late in the first period of play.  (Photo - Jenni Propst)

Chad LaRose scored the Checkers lone goal late in the first period of play. (Photo – Jenni Propst)

Chad LaRose, who has three points in the last three games, after being held scoreless in his first five appearances with the Checkers, scored the lone goal for Charlotte, a backhander with 8.8 seconds left in the first period.

After the game, Coach Daniels seemed confident that LaRose is on the upswing early in the season with Charlotte.

“He’s getting his legs and timing back,” said Daniels, “You’re starting to see some flashes of what Rosey is capable of.”

The second period saw a very different Checkers team on the ice.  After outshooting the Bulldogs 13-7 in the first period, they were held to only three shots in the second, and the Bulldogs scored two goals in under a minute.

IMG_3372Special teams were a big story during the afternoon matchup, specifically the fact that despite a total of 10 opportunities, both the Checkers and Bulldogs teams were held scoreless on the power play, which of course means both penalty kill units were perfect.

Ryan Murphy, who made his first appearance as a Checker this season following reassignment by the Hurricanes, saw a lot of ice time with his new teammates.

IMG_3349“Our power play was pretty awful tonight. We didn’t get the puck in and control in the zone,” Murphy continues,  “We’re gonna work at it every day and get better.”

Though momentum seemed to return for the third period, it wasn’t enough to win the game, and the Checkers remain winless at home this season.

“They got a couple lucky goals and sucked the momentum right out of us…” said Murphy.  “The more you lose, the more hungry you get and the more passionate you want to play, the more effort you want to put into the game. Because once the first one comes, hopefully the floodgates will open.”

Despite stellar goaltending from Drew MacIntyre, Charlotte Checkers lose home opener 2-1.

In front of over 7277 Charlotte Checkers fans, the team lost their home opener to Grand Rapids by a score of 2-1.  The Griffins outshot the Checkers 43-19, and if not for stellar goaltending by Checkers newcomer Drew MacIntyre, the final score would have been very different.

Brody Sutter scored the Checkers lone goal, only 24 hours after he made his NHL debut with the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden. Sutter became the ninth member of his family to play in an NHL game. His was the first shot of the second period, and came mere seconds after one of the Checkers five power plays expired.

Sutter recognizes that his role on this year’s team is going to be a new one he’s still charting the course for.

“I need to be a leader. I know what kind of player I am,  I’m a defense first guy,” Sutter explained,  “but I need to step up a little bit more offensively…  JD has given me the opportunity, and I need to capitalize on it and help the boys out.”

Ten players new to the Checkers team made their regular-season home debut. Some of the newcomers include rookies Trevor Carrick, Carter Sandlak, Phil Di Giuseppe, Brock McGinn and Patrick Brown, who made his Charlotte debut tonight after starting the season with the Hurricanes.

The most notable new faces in today’s lineup include Chad LaRose, who won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes, Ben Holmstrom, a veteran defenseman and former AHL captain who is one of the Checkers alternate captains, and goaltender Drew MacIntyre.

MacIntryre, who was robbed of first star honors (they really should have asked me), made 39 saves, and prevented the Griffins from scoring on either of the two 5-on-3 opportunities they had during the game, made countless amazing saves.

MacIntyre comes to the Checkers with a long list of records, awards and statistics that will hopefully bring the team a veteran presence in the crease that the desperately need.

MacIntyre cited a lack of confidence in the reason for the team’s jitters. When asked if the abundance of new faces on the team was a reason for that, he was adamant it wasn’t.

“I don’t like the youth excuse. I don’t like excuses. I don’t like any of them. We just have to find a way to get better.”

 

 

 

Assorted notes:

  • Kudos to the team for the history introduction video. The Checkers are the longest lasting franchise in this city, and it’s something to be proud of!
  • The Checkers came close to breaking a record they only sat last Saturday in Chicago, with only 15 SOG all game. I counted two power plays where the home team didn’t register a single shot on net.
  • The Checkers had to kill eight penalties. Two of them included 5-on-3s.
  • My first opening night didn’t end with a point in the win column, but it sure was nice to see a season from the very beginning!

How I spent my summer vacation, by Chasing Checkers

Remember those essays you had to write on the first day of school? Well, this fall is my first fall in many many years where I’m not in school (yay Master’s degree completion) but I guess I still wanted to write an essay.  So here you go.  How I spent my summer vacation.

I must begin by saying thank you to the police, fire, medic and rescue workers who risked their lives 13 years ago after the senseless acts of violence done to America. So many innocent lives were lost… mothers, fathers, sons, daughters. Everyone I know was impacted in some way by the terrible tragedy, and I hope we never face another day like September 11, 2001.

I don’t have a very traditional career. I have one theater job that consumes me nine months of the year, and I supplement that with a great deal of freelancing. This summer, instead of taking most of the three months off, I picked up not one, not two, but three new part time jobs. One starts in the coming weeks, and two others consumed me this summer. Needless to say, my crazy life got a whole lot crazier, but I wouldn’t trade it for a “normal” career!

I still did what I could to enjoy my summer “vacation.”

  • I cheered the LA Kings onto their second Stanley Cup championship. I’m pretty sure it’s because I knit a pair of LA Kings socks and painted my toenails purple, something I failed to do in 2013 but did in 2012. So to all the Kings fans out there, you’re welcome. I brought them luck.
  • I checked a huge thing off of my personal bucket list by not only visiting the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, but seeing my favorite band play there on a tour after a nine year hiatus. Needless to say, Nickel Creek was magical and a dream come true seeing them perform together again.
  • I ran miles of feeder cable. I’m a tie in electrician in the summer, and at about 2000 feet of 4-0 a show, I ran a lot of cable for more concerts than I can count or remember. It was fun, and a new adventure.
  • I spent three weeks on the beach at Windy Hill. My grandfather built a family cottage in the 1940’s, and it has hardly been updated, but it’s home, and I’m grateful I get to spend time there, and the beers consumed on it’s porch (Coronado Brewing out of San Diego, CA is a new favorite!).
  • I knit something that won Best of Show at the NC Mountain State Fair. It heads to Raleigh for the State Fair next month, so keep your fingers crossed I get another ribbon and a $10 payout for my effort (that should cover the cost of one craft beer at a game, right?).

So, now that summer is over, I guess I should focus on what the fall and beyond holds for me. Hockey season is right around the corner, and I’ve had the Checkers on the mind a great deal. The team is going to be a very different one than previous seasons. A new yet-to-be-named captain, and at least one new alternate. Lots of new faces, but a handful of returning ones too.  I am excited to see how a very new team can create the chemistry of past seasons.

There are many players I will miss seeing on the ice, but change is good, and can be exciting. I am anxious to see how the season unfolds.

 

So, Checkers fans, who are you most anxious to see in action this year?

Who are you going to miss the most from last season’s team?

How do you think the Checkers will fair in 2014-15?

Who do you have your sights on for the new captain this season?

Introducing the 2014-15 AHL Schedule

Schedule day has arrived! A quick analysis tells me that the schedule is a bit easier than last season. The Checkers are still in the “West” division of the Western Conference, and are still the only team in the Eastern Time Zone in their division, but with the Abbotsford Heat moving to New York, there aren’t any cross-country flights in the Checkers future.

 

You can download the schedule in a variety of formats from the Checkers website here.

So… the 2014-15 schedule, by the numbers:

 

1 – The number of eastern conference teams the Checkers will face this year. Not surprisingly, those games are against Norfolk, the only driving distance team Charlotte has in the league.

2- The number of Canadian “American” Hockey League Teams the Checkers will play this year. So if you are a fan of hearing Oh! Canada, make sure you come see the Checkers play the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Toronto Marlies.

3 – The number of three-in-three series the Checkers will have this season. This is an all-time-low. Last year, Charlotte had five three-in-threes, and in 2012-13, they had seven three-in-threes

5 – The Checkers longest home stand, which takes place from October 31 until November 10. They will face Hamilton, Texas and Norfolk during that stretch of games.

6 – The Checkers longest roadtrip in number of games, which takes place March 14-25. The team will visit exotic locations like Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Des Moines and Norfolk.

8 – Games against an Eastern conference team, all of them versus the Norfolk Admirals

12 – The number of times the Checkers will face the Oklahoma City Barons. That’s a lot

13 – The number of opponents the Checkers will face this season, the same number as last year. This year’s only new addition to the schedule is four games against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

24 – Games against the Midwest Division, who this season consists of the Chicago Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, Lake Erie Monsters, Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford Ice Hogs.

36 – Games against the Checkers West division mates, which include the Iowa Wild, Oklahoma City Barons, San Antonio Rampage and the reigning Calder Cup champions, the Texas Stars.  One-third of these 36 games are against Oklahoma City.

38 – The number of home games in Charlotte. This is up from 36 last year, when the Checkers played two “home” games in Raleigh.