2014-15 Charlotte Checkers Contracts

First of all, congratulations to the Texas Stars on their first-ever Calder Cup victory.  It was a good playoffs, but I must admit I was too focused on my LA Kings winning a second Stanley Cup to follow the AHL as much as usual!

Oh, so much to report on in this off season…. from rumors of major western expansion in the AHL to places like California, the yet-to-be determined AHL realignment (and my wish for five divisions in five seasons as the Checkers looks to be coming true!), and off season moves by the Checkers and Hurricanes, there is a lot to talk about.  But to keep today’s update simple, I compiled a list of all of the Checkers currently under contract, along with d those who have expired contracts and have signed elsewhere in the off season.

A few days ago, it was announced that Mike Murphy has signed in Austria for next season.  Murphy is a player who I admire so much, both on and off the ice.  He was the Checkers first “Man of the Year” winner in the team’s inaugural AHL season.  That same year, he led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals, and has played some of the most epic games of his career for the Checkers.  2013-14 was a challenging season for Murphy between major goaltending injuries to himself and others.  He will be greatly missed. I will certainly follow his team in Austria (one of my favorite European countries!).

 

So… about the contract situation.  The Hurricanes and Checkers have a number of contracts to figure out in the coming month or so.  RFA qualifying offers should go out in the very near future, and as these are released, I’ll update them here.

2014-15 Charlotte Checkers under contract:

Continue reading

Charlotte Checkers defeat OKC Barons in (another) shootout to win fourth straight.

For the second time in as many days, the Charlotte Checkers game ended in a shootout, with the Checkers fourth straight victory.  With their win, they moved to seventh place in the Western Conference standings.

The second period was the game changer for both teams, with six of the eight goals scored over a period of less than eight minutes.

The first two goals of the second period came off strange shots and weird angles.

First, Ben Eager roofed one over Murphy’s glove, a puck that hit the crossbar as it went into the net.

Charlotte Checkers goaltender John Muse stops a shootout attempt by OKC Barons center Alex Lavoie.  (Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck/Charlotte Checkers)

Charlotte Checkers goaltender John Muse stops a shootout attempt by OKC Barons center Alex Lavoie. (Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck/Charlotte Checkers)

Chris Terry kept the score even at two a piece with a strange shot from behind the crease that deflected into the goal off of Barons goaltender Richard Bachman’s skate.

The Barons came back with a vengeance, peppering Mike Murphy with pucks from all angles.

At the time of Mike Murphy getting pulled from the net, he’d faced many many more shots than the box score revealed, and the defense appeared invisible at times, and even Checkers defensemen Matt Corrente scored on Murphy (though the Barons Taylor Fedun was credited with that goal).

 

The goalie substitution in the second  period was a wakeup call for the Checkers bench.  Immediately, the focus and style of play changed. The defense in front of John Muse appeared to be much more present, and the team’s offense struck quickly and erased the deficit with a pair of goals.

 

Coach Jeff Daniels acknowledged that the decision to change goalies worked in the Checkers favor.  “There was still have the game to play there, and we knew we were going to get some chances, it was just a matter of bearing down in front.  We were hoping it would provide a spark, and it did.”

 

Within moments of Muse taking over the crease eight minutes into the second period, the Checkers scored twice more.  The first from Zach Boychuk with a great assist from Matt Pistilli.  The third Checkers goal in the second period came from Jared Staal, his second of the year, who roofed the puck over Richard Bachman’s blocker.

The third period was scoreless, as was the five-minute overtime, and for the second game in a row, the Charlotte Checkers and Oklahoma City Barons headed to the shootout, with the same result, a victory by the home team.  After five shooters for each team, the game was decided. Justin Shugg and Chris Terry both scored on their shootout attempts. The Barons Jack Combs scored his teams lone shootout goal.

 

 

Notes and quotes:

  • After the game, Zach Boychuk recognized that at times, the team plays very differently in front of the two Checkers goaltenders.  “Obviously, we’ve been really pulling for Murph the last few games, and we haven’t really been giving him much support.  It’s tough for him,” Boychuk continued, “But at the same time, when Muse comes in it seems like we’re able to find those goals and find ways to score and shut them down defensively. It’s just one of those things where all Muse is doing is winning and it’s good to have a guy like that we can lean on.”
  • Matt Pistilli made another big impact on today’s matchup against Oklahoma City, playing on a line with Boychuk and assisting on his second period goal, and the chemistry Pistilli continues to display with his past and present teammates is very apparent.
  • Zach Boychuk was complimentary of Pistilli’s contributions to the team.  “It seems like we’ve brought a lot of guys back this year. Guys that have played in the past and guys that have been huge contributions to our success this year, guys like Jenks and Pistilli who keep coming back. It’s nice that we’re finding chemistry and he (Pistilli) is a huge contributor.”

Lucky 13 – the Charlotte Checkers and their quest for the playoffs

I know that for many, 13 is considered an unlucky number.  But it happens to be one of my favorites.  Good things seem to happen in and on 13s for me.  I got my Master’s degree in 2013.  Friday the 13th tends to be a very good luck day for me.  I bought my car on the 13th of August.  I like 13.  And I like the Checkers chances during their last 13 games of the 2013-14 season.

The AHL has a fantastic playoff primer that is updated daily, and can be found here, but I wanted to focus on the matchups during the Checkers month of play.

San Antonio – Two home games against the Rampage remain on March 21 & 23, with a third game in San Antonio as a part of a three-in-three weekend in April.  The Checkers are 4-1 against the Rampage this season, and all but one of those games was decided by only one goal, including a shootout win on March 7.  The only two-goal game was the Checkers only loss, at San Antonio in November.  While the Rampage sit in last place in the Western Conference, but the games this weekend could be very close if history repeats itself.

Iowa – The Checkers haven’t seen Iowa since mid-October, during the second weekend of the AHL season, and face them two times at home on March 25 and 26.  Charlotte lost both games in Des Moines.  The Wild are in a tough Midwest division, in which all of the four other teams (Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Chicago and Rockford) all sit in a playoff position.  The Wild are currently in 12th place in the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City – Of their final 13 games, the Checkers will face the Barons four more times.  Two at home, and two away.  As I write this, each team has played 63 games, and only one point separates them in the standings, with OKC sitting in 9th place in the Western conference, and the Checkers are in 10th.  The matchup between Charlotte and Oklahoma City has been a dramatic one this season.  The Checkers are 6-1-1 against the Barons.  After winning the first six games of the season in a dramatic fashion, the Checkers have lost their last two against Oklahoma City here at home, which were in early in February.  Needless to say, the key to the Checkers playoff hopes may lie in these four remaining games against the Barons, because if the Checkers can take the much needed points against a fierce opponent, they may have a chance of making the post season.

Grand Rapids – On paper, Grand Rapids may be the toughest opponent the Checkers have to face in their remaining 13 games.  They were last year’s Calder Cup champions, and are certainly in contention to repeat.  They sit atop their Midwest division, and are second place in the Western Conference.  The Checkers split a pair of games in Michigan in October, including a dramatic 5-0 shutout win by John Muse.  Taking a couple of points from the reigning Calder Cup champions will be a big victory for the Checkers.

Milwaukee – During the final weekend of the regular season , the Checkers have a quick two game roadtrip to the Midwest where they will face the Admirals and IceHogs.  Two years ago, Milwaukee was a sight of heartbreak.  I’d traveled to Milwaukee for the Checkers final game, and the winner of the game was playoff bound, the loser would have to cross their fingers and hope other games around the league turned out in their favor.  An overtime game would have resulted in both teams locking in a playoff berth.  Well, the Admirals won the game, the wildcard situation didn’t go Charlotte’s way, and the Checkers were eliminated from playoff contention.  To make a long story short, the game against Milwaukee will be huge.  The two teams are currently separated by only five points, and that margin could be much smaller in April.  Can the Checkers pull out a win?  Let’s hope so!  Charlotte is 2-1 this year against a tough Admirals squad, with both victories coming from John Muse.

Rockford – Charlotte faces the IceHogs for the eighth and final time this year on the last weekend of the AHL season. They are 4-2-0-1 against Rockford, who sit in eight place in the Western Conference.  They have four more points than Charlotte, and have the same number of games played, but fewer games in the win column. The IceHogs have nine OT and shootout losses has a lot to do with the extra points, as Charlotte has only three OT and shootout losses. There’s no doubt, the post season hopes could come down to this final game in Rockford!

 

So…. Where would you put the playoff outlook for the Charlotte Checkers this year?

 

Charlotte Checkers lose a close game in OT to Oklahoma City.

First, a few administrative notes:

  • Holy cow, Queen city! Could today have been a more beautiful day? Blue sky, warm weather, and I get to sit on my patio sipping a beer writing my post-game story while my 11-year old puppy Will Shakespeare rolls in the grass. Life is good.
  • Every four years, February is my favorite month. I can feel, taste and smell (in my dreams, anyway) the Olympic ice. And I’m not just talking about hockey (USA USA USA!).  Curling is possibly my favorite Olympic winter sport, and I am also a huge fan of short track speed skating. And Olympic ski jumping for women this year! It’s a first!!! I can’t wait for those events to begin.
  • Knit your own Team USA hat like the athlete's are wearing in Sochi! (Designed by me, photo credit -  E. Kinsman)

    Knit your own Team USA hat like the athlete’s are wearing in Sochi! (Designed by me, photo credit – E. Kinsman)

    And about the Olympics, do you want your very own Team USA themed hand knit hat? I designed a free pattern that replicates the hat our team wore in the opening ceremonies.  You can download it here.

  • Speaking of February, happy birthday to Chasing Checkers.  According to my hosting site, it celebrated it’s anniversary this week. I can’t believe I’m going into my fourth year here. What a fun and wild ride it’s been.

A giveaway by Charlotte Checkers captain Brett Sutter in front of Mike Murphy resulted in an overtime defeat by the Oklahoma City Barons. They won the game 4-3 in another heated matchup between the two Western division rivals. The one point OT loss by the Checkers ended the team’s three game regulation losing streak.

The first period looked good with a nice goal from Justin Shugg that went over the Baron’s Richard Bachman’s blocker. The steep angle made it a nearly impossible shot to stop.  Shugg, who has appeared pretty regularly on the scoresheet for Charlotte, made his first appearance in the goal column in six games.  He now has six points (3g, 3a) in eight appearances against Oklahoma City.

Brendan Woods, who had family in attendance, had a stellar game. After missing nearly two weeks to an injury in January, this was his first goal in only his fourth game back.  He nearly missed having a Gordie Howe hat trick after a fight with Baron’s tough guy Ben Eager.  Woods ended the night with one goal, one fight, four shots and nine PIMs.

AS0D3361“I guess you can look at the positive and we got one point, but we’d like to have two (points) with the standings being so close,” Woods stated, “These next few games will be crucial.”

Forward lines were moved around, with Chris Terry moving off of the top-scoring line with Zach Boychuk.

Coach Jeff Daniels acknowledged the change was meant to shake things up a bit.  “We were trying to get more balance and more scoring throughout our forward lines. I thought a couple lines were good and a couple were just okay.”

Brody Sutter scored with 37 seconds to go in the game, tying it at three a piece and leading the team to overtime.  The excitement was short lived, as halfway through overtime, a costly giveaway by Brett Sutter led to a goal by the Baron’s Roman Horak.

With a bit of a grin, Woods acknowledged that having family in attendance added to his energy. With his dad an assistant coach in Anaheim, his mom and dad were both able to make it to this afternoon’s game.  “It definitely gives you a little extra jump. I’m sure she was a little nervous with that fight against Ben Eager, but yeah, it was fun.”

The Charlotte Checkers had another sellout this afternoon. It's great to see the arena filled to capacity on a regular basis! (Photo - Jenni Propst)

The Charlotte Checkers had another sellout this afternoon. It’s great to see the arena filled to capacity on a regular basis! (Photo – Jenni Propst)

The Checkers head into the (brief) All-Star break with a few days of rest after a tough travel schedule, and return on Friday for a couple of “home” games in Raleigh. They sit a few points out of a playoff spot, and divisional games will continue to be incredibly important, especially the two against Abbotsford next weekend, who sit atop the West division.

Cindy’s Hope Chest – one of the great groups that will be at the Charlotte Checker’s Pink in the Rink on 2/7

I love grass roots organizations that help people on an intimate level that a larger organization can’t.  My brother is a volunteer coordinator in Madagascar, and I’ve seen the work that organizations like Go Jen Go, Cookies for Cancer and the Charlotte Checkers Charitable Foundation do for the Charlotte Community.  Cindy’s Hope Chest is another great organization, and one Chasing Checkers friend @Laurie_AR is involved with.  Read what she has to say about this great group does, and the fundraiser they will have at this week’s Pink in the Rink!

In 2008 Cindy Summers was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  Her husband was away on active duty in the military and she was home raising her three young girls so she knows first hand how breast cancer can turn your life upside down.  Cindy remembers what the treatments make your body feel like, she knows the fears and uncertainties that you feel, and she remembers all of the support she had during her fight.   After completing chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiation, Cindy knew she wanted to help others who were going through it too and Cindy’s Hope Chest was born.

Cindy’s Hope Chest is different than other organizations because it provides an intimate, more individualized service.  CHC is not funded by any major corporations and relies solely on word of mouth and events like Pink in the Rink with the Checkers  to bring in volunteers and donations.   Living in the same town that CHC is in, I was drawn in the moment I met Cindy.  Her faith, hope and goodness ooze out of her and make you want to be a part of something so special.  Luckily she recognized my love of hockey oozing out of me and gave me the blessing of working with her so closely on such an amazing event.  In spending time with Cindy, I have had the pleasure of getting to know her even better. I sit on the edge of my seat listening to her talk about “her girls” that she helps through CHC and how much she loves each and every one of them. She tells me of their success stories and about those who have passed, and how she still keeps up with all of her girls and their families.

In addition to helping one of her girls financially, Cindy offers services based on where they are in their lives.  She provides child care and rides for women going to treatment.  If they need their grass cut, she sends someone to cut their grass.  If their child needs a ride to practice afterschool, she gets them a ride.  If a woman needs some alone time with her husband, she sends them away.  She finds out what they need and gets it to them.  In addition to these services, Cindy offers counselling, emotional support and gives away wigs, bras and prosthesis free of charge to women who need them.  It’s hard to put a description on what Cindy’s Hope Chest provides because there is no limit to what she would do for one of her girls.

To find out more about Cindy’s Hope Chest for help or to see how to get involved, people can visit cindyshopechest.org or call Cindy at (704) 529-2935. If you are coming to Pink in the Rink on February 7th, please be sure to stop by our table to meet Cindy and to bid on our great raffle prizes which include:
 -Signed pucks from Brody Sutter, Justin Shugg, Matt Marquardt, Mike Murphy, Nic Blanchard, Chris Terry, and John Muse/Michal Jordan.
-Signed puck from Carolina Hurricane Tuomo Ruutu
-Team signed Checkers Mini Stick
-Tickets to a Checkers Game
-Checkers uncut team cards, signed (STH exclusive)
-Signed promotional Bud Ice jersey from Bruins Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk
RAFFLE TICKETS FOR THESE ITEMS ARE $1 EACH/$10 FOR 15

AND Bobby Sanguinetti’s signed stick- TICKETS ARE $5EACH/5 FOR $25
For information on buying tickets to Pink in the Rink orraffle items, you can contact @Laurie_AR

John Muse gets a shutout as the Checkers drill the Barons 4-0

John Muse had his third shutout of the season as the Charlotte Checkers defeated the Oklahoma City Barons 4-0 in front of an enthusiastic dollar beer fueled crowd.

The Checkers won their fifth of the season against the Barons, and will face them seven more times, including tomorrow.

Seth Lakso of the Charlotte Observer mentioned that after tonight’s victory against Oklahoma City, 25% (5 of 20) of the Checkers wins have come against the Barons.  Including tomorrow night, the Checkers face the Barons seven more times this season.

Numbers don’t always tell the truth of the present, as Charlotte’s penalty kill still sits in 23rd in the league, but performed as if they were number one tonight, killing off seven penalties, including a brief 5-on-3.

“Well, I think our PK has been real good these past couple months.” Coach Jeff Daniels said, “I didn’t like our power play at all.  I thought we were too casual and tried to get too cute with it and it showed. We’ve got to get better.”

The Checkers continue to be a team who scores by committee, with two from Justin Shugg, one from Greg Neimisz (his second game in a row) and a short handed goal by Captain Brett Sutter.

Chris Terry, who got an assist on Sutter’s goal, broke his four game point drought.

Justin Shugg, who scored two goals for Charlotte, knows tomorrow will be a different game, with hopefully the same result.  “Like playing any team back to back, you’re going to see another hockey club. So we just have to make sure we’re pushing the pace.”

The Checkers face the Barons tomorrow night for the annual Race Night.  Let’s Go Checkers!

 

 

Odds and ends:

 

  • The Barons amassed 32 PIMs during the game.  Of those, 26 belong to Ben Eager, who was finally ejected from the game due to “Abuse of officials” late in the third period.
  • After tonight’s loss, the Barons have been shut out four times this season.  The Checkers, on the other hand, have not been shut out.
  • The Checkers sit only one point out of a playoff spot.  This is quite a change from the team that was in 14th in November!
  • In less than two weeks, Chasing Checkers will celebrate it’s third birthday.  Oh, how time flies!  It’s come a long way since the early days!

Checkers finish a roller coaster weekend with a 4-3 shootout victory.There was #NorfolkingWay the Admirals could win.

A very brief recap… I deleted my post-game audio, so no quotes.  Whoops!

The best description of this weekend’s Checkers performances might be one that compares them to a roller coaster.  A 7-1 loss on Friday night was a devastating fall, then the comeback win on Saturday afternoon the high peak after the depths of the previous evening, and today was like the spiraling corkscrew at the end of the ride that ended in a 4-3 shootout victory against the Norfolk Admirals.

The Checkers outshot the Admirals 53-39, including 23 shots during the third period alone.  They faced Admirals goaltender Brad Thiessen, a familiar face for the Checkers, though not since the 2011 playoffs when Charlotte played (and beat) the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the second round, facing Thiessen in all six games.

Greg Nemisz scored the game-tying goal late in the third period, his first goal as a Checker, and extended his Checkers point streak to four games (1g, 4a), at least one in each of his appearances since being traded to the organization from the Florida organization.

The Checkers were strong in the shootout, which was only the second one for the team all season.  Their last try was in October at Rockford, and didn’t result in a win.  Three shootout goals from the home team by Matt Pistilli, Aaron Palushaj and Chris Terry cemented the win, with Emerson Etem the only Admiral able to get past Theissen.

 

Odds and Ends:

  • Admirals goaltender Brad Theissen hadn’t played since December 6.  He had been sidelined for the past six weeks with an injury. The Checkers certainly put him through the ringer tonight with 53 SOG!
  • Admirals forward (and California native, like me!) Emerson Etem was held scoreless tonight.  He was the Ads leading scorer against the Checkers with five points in three previous games (2g, 3a).
  • Tonight was the Admirals third game of the weekend that required extra time or a shootout to finish.  Friday night, they lost in a shootout, and Saturday night, won in overtime.
  • This was only the Checkers fourth overtime (or longer) game all season.  They won two of those, and lost the third in the shootout on October 26.
  • Matt Pistilli played in his 10th game with the Checkers this season since signing a PTO in late December.  He continues to make a case to stay with the team, even after injured players return to the ice.  He has seven points (4g, 3a) in his last six games, including an assist tonight.
  • If y’all aren’t following Seth Lakso on twitter and at the Charlotte Observer,  you’re missing out.  Finally, the paper has hired a top-notch beat writer to cover the Checkers, and he’s got a great eye for the team.

Insert something snarky here about a 7-1 loss by the Charlotte Checkers to Texas

The Checkers were downed by the Stars by a score of 7-1 tonight.  The Stars, who lead the Checkers own West division, outplayed, outskated, and outshot the home team.

Texas, who has the league’s best powerplay, and in six PP opportunities, scored three times against Charlotte’s 22nd worst penalty kill.

The Checkers, who had four unsuccessful opportunities on the powerplay, came away from the game with one loan goal by Checkers scoring leader Aaron Palushaj.

Travis Morin scored once for the Stars, and also had four assists.  He leads his team in scoring (24g, 31a), especially against the Checkers, where he has 10 points (4g, 6a) in three games on Checkers home ice.

Texas’ Curtis McKenzie also had four assists on the night, and in three games against the Checkers, now has six points.

The most notable Checkers on the scoresheet were the five players who had minor penalties, including Matt Corrente, who received a double minor for boarding late in the first.  If you want a complete look at the score sheet, check it out here, but as you can imagine, it’s not pretty.

Despite the game’s final score, the team appears focused and prepared for tomorrow’s rematch against the Stars.

Coach Jeff Daniels didn’t seem concerned about the short turnaround, and knows his team has what it takes to get a better result.

“You can’t dwell on it.  It’s over. Whether it was 7-1 or 2-1, we lost the game tonight, and we play again at 12:00 and have to respond better. A lot of the guys in that locker room have to be better as individuals.”  Daniels continued, “We’ve got to be better, stronger on the puck.”

Despite a brutal result, Palushaj , who scored the only goal for Charlotte, knows what it will take for a different result tomorrow.  “We’re all athletes.  We want to show that we have a lot better than that.  I wish we could play again right now.  We have to come out and play a lot stronger, and we know that.

Brett Sutter, the Checkers Captain, believes tomorrow will be a different game.

“Guys are frustrated now.  But we’ve got to put it behind us.  We know things we can do better, we know what we did wrong. We’ll make sure we come mad tomorrow. Make sure we’re ready to go.  It’s the same team right away, so we’ve got to come a little pissed off tomorrow.”

Other notes:

  • According to TSN’s, the Hurricanes have placed a number of Checkers alumni on the trading block.

Drayson Bowman, Riley Nash and Brett Bellemore were of course regulars on the Checkers squad for three seasons.  Tlusty played five games during the 2010-11 season.

  • The Checkers had a sell out tonight of 8,102, with more huge crowds expected all weekend and next week.
  • I don’t think I’ve expressed my disappointment here, but the AHL announced their “All Star” team for the event next month in St. John’s.  No Checkers were named to the team, but at least three teams have multiple players representing it.  I’m glad I didn’t purchase the plane ticket to Newfoundland as I had planned to earlier in the season!

Charlotte Checkers defeat Texas Stars 4-3, win seventh game out of the last ten.

The Charlotte Checkers scored two even-strength goals, a shorthanded goal and a power play goal to defeat the Texas Stars tonight.

The second period was a game changer for Charlotte. The home team was outshot by the Stars 18-7, and had to kill three penalties.  Through all this, they still found a way to score two goals.  Mike Murphy, who, made a number of impressive saves during the second, and came away with his first win since early October, before he was recalled by the Hurricanes and then spent time recovering from an injury after returning to the Checkers.

Following the game, Murphy acknowledged the importance of the victory over the Texas Stars, and his contribution to the result. “It’s huge, especially to get it against one of the top teams. It’s huge for me and it’s huge for the team because we know we can beat anyone.”

Matt Pistilli, playing in only his fifth game with the Checkers this year after signing a PTO contract late last month, scored two goals and was the team’s first star.  Pistilli, a familiar face to the Checkers after a PTO last year and being a part of the Hurricanes organization the previous two seasons, proved he can contribute to this hockey team.

Pistilli was enthusiastic about his contributions so far this season. “I show up every day and try and bring some energy… I want to keep building on this [two goal game]”

With two of the team’s scoring leaders Zach Boychuk and Brett Sutter currently playing in Raleigh, the Checkers are trying to find new ways to score goals.

“We need scoring by committee, and I think we saw that tonight with Pistilli getting a couple and Blanchard scoring.” Daniels continued, “If we’re going to win, it’s going to be by committee.”

Greg Nemisz played his first game for the Checkers tonight following a trade from the Calgary Flames organization. Despite not arriving in Charlotte until this morning, and not having any time to skate with his new team, he contributed immediately.  In his first shift, he had opportunities to shoot the puck, and physical play. He got his first point on the score sheet, with an assist on Pistilli’s powerplay goal.

Coach Jeff Daniels believes that Neimisz has a lot of potential.  “I thought he was real solid. I played him at left wing, right wing, center, he killed penalties, and I thought he did a lot of good things and he showed us the ability to make some plays,” Daniels continued, “In the long run, he’ll be good pick up for us.”

Other assorted notes that don’t fit anywhere else:

  • The Checkers had to kill seven penalties over the course of the game, against the league’s number one power play team. Charlotte was successful five of the seven times, allowing two back-to-back goals only 45 seconds apart in the first period.
  • After a rough start to the season, the Checkers improved their home record to 8-12 after tonight’s win.  They continue to play better on the road, with a record of 7-6-0-1.
  • Over the course of the past ten games, the Checkers have a record of 7-3.  I like where this is going after a really rough month of November (I can relate to that being a rough month… I re-wrote my thesis in the span of a week and a half!)
  • Despite the outcome last night, this week’s Checkers games are some of my favorite as both a hockey fan and blogger. Last night, I got to celebrate my graduate school career being OVER with some of my best friends from the stands, a ride on the Olympia (and a handful of beers!) and a lot of cheering. Tonight, I got to see an outstanding game with my more professional eye on the game. I’m pretty lucky to get to participate in the game in different ways.
  • The Checkers hit the road next weekend with a two-game trip to Oklahoma City.  They return home for another pair of games against Texas January 17-18, and a matinee game against Norfolk on the 19th.

Checkers rally for a 5-4 win over the Admirals. There was #NorfolkingWay the away team could win.

The first period of tonight’s game was undoubtedly some of the best 20 minutes of hockey I’ve seen from this team. Coach Jeff Daniels comments about effort and playing a strong game seemed to ring true, as by the halfway point in the game, the team was up 3-0 over the Norfolk Admirals.

Matt Marquardt had a goal and an assist for the Charlotte Checkers. (Photo - J. Propst)

Matt Marquardt had a goal and an assist for the Charlotte Checkers. (Photo – J. Propst)

The second period has been a rough one for the Checkers lately, and tonight’s was no different. It seemed especially brutal as the clock wound down. The team came out strong, rallying around two goals they put up early in the period, but then things seemed to untraveled, as if the team eased off the gas in the way a 3-0 lead often does. The Admirals scored two goals 29 seconds apart, then three minutes later, netted a third, tying the game at three each by the end of the second.

A fourth unanswered goal was scored by Devante Smith-Pelly in the third period, but the Checkers rallied. A power play goal from Zach Boychuk followed by an even strength goal by Matt Marquardt less than a minute later made me #throwbackthursday to the second period, when the Admirals scored a pair of goals in less than a minute.

After the game, Coach Daniels said “Win a period, win a game. And we did that in the third.”

Momentum always plays a huge role in the success of a hockey team, and it’s a big part of the Checkers success this month. The four-game winning streak is the first home winning streak of it’s kind in a couple of years.

IMG_1241smZach Boychuk believes the momentum will continue to carry the team forward. “It’s huge for us, and we’ve got to keep going. That little streak in November where we lost seven in a row, I said then we could easily win seven in a row, and we’ve got to keep it up.”

 

Matt Marquardt, who had a goal and an assist in the win, had a an insightful take on the current state of the Checkers. “The harder you work, the luckier you get. We’re staying the course and believing in each other. That’s what’s been going on here lately.”

 

 

 

Quick hits:

  • I wish there was a way to easily calculate how many of Boychuk’s goals have come directly from Chris Terry.  I’d guess it’s about a million (but I didn’t take statistics in graduate school, so I might be off by a few).
  • Zach Boychuk is sad when he doesn’t get to talk to the media after the game. I guess I need to think of better questions for him to keep it interesting every time he scores (which is pretty much every game!)
  • It’s holiday show season for me, and tonight was my last game until the New Year.  Don’t worry though, I’ll be at the game on January 2, celebrating my recent grad school completion (needless to say, don’t expect a post game story, because I plan on partaking in the dollar drafts, even if it isn’t my preferred craft beer!
  • I don’t care how many times I’ve used it #NorfolkingWay never gets old for me.