Checkers sink Admirals 4-1!

A super brief post before I go back to doing homework… graduation in 13 days!!!!!!!

 

Tonight’s game was a battle between one of the top teams in the Western Conference, and the team who currently sits at the bottom of the conference, the Charlotte Checkers.

The Checkers won the game with a score of 4-1, with goals from Chris Terry, Zach Boychuk, Justin Shugg and Aaron Palushaj.

Rasmus Rissanen passes the puck during the Checkers 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals. (Photo - J. Propst)

Rasmus Rissanen passes the puck during the Checkers 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals. (Photo – J. Propst)

The Checkers battled through four penalty kills (they nailed them all, and held the Admirals scoreless on the PP), had a number of fisticuffs, lost one player to injury during the first period, and a second to a game misconduct following a crazy scrum near the end of the second period.

Despite a shortened bench, Charlotte was able to rally and came away with their second home win of the season.  Coach Jeff Daniels was pleased at his team’s performance, particularly in the third period. “We were kind of shorthanded from a bench strength [perspective], we lost some guys tonight, but I thought we handled it well. We were disciplined and played hard and stayed out of the box. “

With another game tomorrow against the same Milwaukee Admirals team, the Checkers will need to capitalize on the energy and success they found on the ice tonight at home in Charlotte.  Chris Terry, who had two points tonight (1g, 1a), believes tonight’s performance can carry over into the game tomorrow. “We’ve got to come right in excited to play, excited about what our jobs are. You know, we play hockey for a living every day and we have to carry over what we did in the third today.”

Chris Terry said “[Coach Daniels] talked to us before the game and said your best players have to be your best players… Tonight we made sure we were the best players out there, leading by example.”

Checkers team leaders Terry, Brett Sutter and Zach Boychuk each came away with multi-point games.  Terry and Boychuk had a goal and an assist each, and Sutter had two assists.

 

 

Bits and pieces:

  • When I asked about Sean Dolan’s injury in the first period, Daniels replied, “He’s going to miss some time.”
  • Former Checkers captain Bryan Rodney made a return to Charlotte and was on the ice for the Admirals, wearing an Alternate captain’s A.  He was a -1, and had one SOG.
  • Three Checkers players had multi-point nights. Brett Sutter (2a) and Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry had a goal and an assist each.
  • My nephew (and his dad) were my game watching partners in crime tonight. Explaining the game of hockey to an eight year old prevents me from taking notes, but it was fun!
  • For a take from the other side check out The Admirals Roundtable.

Checkers offense shines in Admiral defeat.

I’m a bit sad I was pun-less in my story title tonight… I just couldn’t think of anything punny about Admirals…

I spoke with my friend Ryan from The Admirals Roundtable after the game, I swear, not to gloat, just to chat about the game that I saw in person, and he listened to from afar.  The one reassuring thing I could tell him is that it didn’t matter WHO the Checkers played tonight, no team could have beaten them.  Between lineup shakeups (the addition of Justin Shugg who has had a stellar season in Florida, and the healthy scratching of Jerome Samson) and just a renewed fire from the home team, they were unstoppable.

Charlotte came out strong and rebounded from an early Milwaukee power play goal in the first period to score two in the second, and a third in the third.

Milwaukee goaltender Magnus Hellberg was given back-to-back starts after strong play on Sunday, but suffered his first loss of the season.  He’s now 4-1 in seven games played.

The lineup shakeups seemed to be a big boost to the Checkers.  Defensive pairings were mixed up a bit from Sunday, with more of a balance between the offensive and defensive players paired together. Another theme of the game was leadership, from guys like Justin Peters who is constantly talking to his teammates throughout the game, to veterans like Tim Wallace.

Tim Wallace, the game’s well-deserved first star, was enthusiastic about what he felt the key to the win was. “I think just desperation.  I think you could tell in the room everyone was desperate. It wasn’t very fun coming to the rink when we were losing. So you know we’ve got a good team in here, good character, and it goes a long way.”

Zac Dalpe, who had a goal and an assist in tonight’s game, said a lot about the importance of having fun out there, and said it was a key to the game.   “Realizing that this game is fun.  I know it’s hard to find that fun when you’re losing all those games, but it’s nice to see some smiles tonight, for sure.”

A lot can be taken from this, because despite the fact these guys are highly skilled professional athletes, they are still young men who, since the time they could barely walk and had skates strapped onto their feet by their parents, have dreamed of playing this game for a living.  It’s like the young girl who attends the ballet for the first time as a child and 18 years later is a prima ballerina in The Nutcracker or a young musician who takes piano lessons as a child, and later ends up as the concertmaster for a symphony, the fun and love of the game remains a huge key to success, because if you can’t enjoy what you are doing, what’s the point?

Confidence and consistency will be a key moving forward, and according to Dalpe was a key to the game. “Just the fact we can play like that.  I mean, I think the first period, JD said it, it’s the best period we played in a month or so…  We’ve just got to keep it consistent.”

Other notes:

  • After the game, Jeff Daniels had positive things to say about Shugg, who played his first game with the Checkers this season.  “He got caught in a bit of a numbers game during training camp with the lockout and we felt it was best for his career to go down and play and play important minutes, so when he got called up he was gonna play.  And he showed today that he was ready to play and I felt like he had a really strong game.”
  • The second period shots-on-goal ratio of 11-2 in favor of Charlotte still blows me away.
  • Tomorrow I have an awesome featured planned, so check back for an interview with a HUGE fan of the Charlotte Checkers.
  • Leaving the rink after a win (even when it’s FREEZING COLD outside sure is a lot nicer than most of the games this month.
  • The crowd was a bit on the small side, but having Wilson back was a huge boost.
  • I posted a question on Twitter during the game… what would you name an all-Justin Checkers boyband?  There were some great answers that came in, so I figured I’d put it to a vote.

The One About the ’12-’13 Schedule.

Tess and Haley here again! First of all, our apologies for not posting our thoughts earlier, Haley and I have been pretty busy between moving, school, work, and life. Regardless, better late than never!

We’ll go ahead and start this off with the massive elephant in the room. To rip it off like a band-aid, the Checkers don’t play at home until November 4th, nearly a month after their season starts. Luckily, the nine away-game stretch that starts out the season is the longest our fellas will be away. The hockey gods giveth, and the hockey gods taketh… and thankfully they made up for that nine game stretch by giving us a 10 game stretch at home from November 24th to December 15th!

As for the competitors this season, though the Checkers have once again changed divisions, the opponents won’t be all too unfamiliar. All of Charlotte’s adversaries this season are in the Western conference, with the exception of area rival, Norfolk Admirals. The team will face each of their South Division foes (Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Texas). Since joining the Western Conference the Checkers have yet to face Hamilton, Rochester, and Toronto and will continue not oppose them during the regular season. However they will face Norfolk, Houston, OKC, Peoria, Milwaukee and Texas eight times and Abbotsford, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lake Erie, and Rockford four times.

There are a few notable games in the schedule. The Checkers will have two doubleheaders with the Bobcats this season, December 15th and January 12th. On both dates the Checkers will play at noon and the Bobcats will follow at 7 pm. The November 24th game coincides with the team’s 5K Run & Walk, which is still open for registration and volunteer help.

The last game to keep your eye out for is on January 6th. The team will play in Raleigh against the Norfolk Admirals, the reigning Calder Cup champions. Keep in mind that the ‘Canes play the Isles the night before in Raleigh as well so make a weekend out of it! We’d also like to make note that the promotional schedule has yet to be released, so we’ll be sure to make mention of more notable games later.

Lastly, the Checkers have a huge advantage towards the end of the season. During the month of February the team only plays eight games, two of which are at home, then play 14 of their next 18 games at home, spanning from March 1st to April 12th. After the 12th, the team closes the season with four away games, ending regular season on April 20th.

To check out the Checkers schedule for yourself, go here. For the full AHL schedule, click here.
As always, we look forward to writing much more about the season to come!

 

 

Checkers fall to Milwaukee, lose 6-1

A 76-game season came down to one point and 60-minutes of play today. The Charlotte Checkers lost the final, and arguably most important game of a four-game road trip that began on Tuesday with a 3-0 win in Rockford.

In a nutshell? The Checkers looked tired, and lacked the fight they had during their past three games, all wins in nearby Midwest division cities. From the initial ucmdrop, Charlotte failed to find a way to maintain control of the game. The pace was at times frantic, with Charlotte having a hard time keeping up with the pace that Milwaukee set.

Both goaltenders on the ice today were playing their third straight of a three-in-three weekend. Milwaukee’s Jeremy Smith, who’s past two games have gone into the shootout and overtime, respectively, had no problem stopping the Checkers today. Smith seemed composed when Justin Peters seemed tired and unable to prevent any rebounds.

Penalties were an overwhelming theme to the night, with Milwaukee having seven power play opportunities, and converting on two of them.

During the first period, referee Mark Lemelin made a pretty blatant mistake by allowing the Admirals to have a power play which included over a minute of 5-on-3. the call on the ice was Three Admirals players got two minute penalties, and the Checkers got one two and one four minute penalty. Justin Shugg was given a penalty on the box score simply to cover up for the on ice errors of the referee. Shugg had been sent to the box to serve the first two of Chris Durno’s four minute roughing penalty, and the Admirals were given an extra skater as if they were on the power play.

All in all, one team wanted to win the game, and the other was too tired to fight.

It’s going to be a long drive back to Charlotte, and if there is one place I wouldn’t want to be tonight, it’s on the Checkers bus back to Chicago.

Let the scoreboard watching in Texas commence. If Houston loses in regulation or overtime, Charlotte can still make it into the playoffs, but a win by Houston eliminates the Checkers.

It all comes down to this: Gameday – Charlotte at Milwaukee

Charlotte Checkers (38-28-3-6) at Milwaukee Admirals (39-29-2-5)

  • The Checkers are 4-3 against the Admirals this year, and 2-1 in Milwaukee.
  • Both Charlotte and Milwaukee enter the game with 85 points.  The Admirals are in sixth place, and the Checkers are in eighth. Whoever gets a point makes it to the post season.  So it could be one of them, it could be both.  It’s that close.
  • If Houston loses, both Charlotte and Milwaukee are going to the playoffs.  Charlotte could finish in fifth with a win tomorrow, and a loss by San Antonio.
  • Three weeks ago, my good friend Ryan over at The Admirals Roundtable said to me that April 15 could be a monumental game for one of “our” teams.  I had no idea how true those words would be, because it’s all on the line.
  • Zach Boychuk, who’s been on fire lately and was last night’s first star, leads the Checkers with in goals and has five points against Milwaukee (4g, 1a).
  • Zac Dalpe has five points as well (3g, 2a) in seven games against the Admirals.
  • 1000 miles down on this roadtrip, about 800 to go… it’s been worth it every step of the way!

Gametime: 4:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte RadioWBCN 1660 AM


Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Milwaukee Twitter: @mkeadmirals@DaveBoehler,
Milwaukee Blog: The Admirals Roundtable

A tale of two cities – Milwaukee dominates again, Checkers lose

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  After two straight losses to the Milwaukee Admirals, I’m beginning to think that only the latter is true.

The Checkers lost by a score of 2-4 in Charlotte.  The Admirals made it into eighth place, and with Peoria’s defeat of the Texas Stars, they will moved up to sixth, dropping Charlotte to seventh.

The Admirals came out fighting, continuing the physical style of play that helped them shut out the Checkers on Tuesday night.

I had high hopes for the game in the first period, when only two minutes in, tough guys Zack Stortini and Mathieu Roy dropped the gloves, but the Checkers seemed flat from the beginning.  They were unable to stop the drive that Milwaukee had.  Just as they did Tuesday night, the Ads were driving to the net, pushing the home team out of way, and being an aggressive, physical presence in front of Checkers netminder Justin Peters.

Speaking of goalies, for the second time in two nights, the Admirals knocked the mask off of the Checkers goalie, leaving Peters lidless for a few moments in the second, just as Mike Murphy was during the game on Tuesday.  If that’s not an example of the physical, combative play of the Admirals, I don’t know what is.

The highlight of the game was Drayson Bowman’s goal, the Checkers second of the night.  Bowman returned to the Charlotte lineup after an extended stay in Raleigh with the Hurricanes, and it was great to have him back in the lineup.

The final two and a half minutes of the game were played without a Checkers goalie, and at times, featured six forwards on the ice for Charlotte, something I’d never seen before.  The good news is Chris Terry made a good fill-in goaltender when the rest of his forward-teammates were scrambling for the puck in the defensive end.

All in all, it’s been a tough couple of games to watch this week.  Hopefully, the Checkers don’t have a case of Bobcatitis (they are 7-45, afterall) and can get back to their winning ways before it’s too late.

Six games in the next nine days.   Charlotte has a 14-7-0-1 record against their next four opponents (Abbotsford, Peoria, Rockford, and Milwaukee), so on paper, the Checkers should have a fighting chance of maintaining their spot in the standings to make it into the post season.

It all comes down to this last stretch, and the game on April 15 against the same Admirals the Checkers faced tonight might be the game that determines the postseason for both clubs.

 

Let’s Go Checkers

 

 

 

Pffffffffttttt (that’s the sound of a whoopee cushion deflating): Admirals defeat Checkers 4-0

My mom always said if I can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, however I have to publish an update, so you’ll have to read some not-nice things.  I should probably wait to cool down a bit before posting this, but hey, I’ve got nothing to lose, right?

The game was won by Jeremy Smith, who made 31 games to get the shutout.  The sore loser in me must mention that Smith shouldn’t have even played tonight, having been suspended previously by the AHL following actions in a game this past Sunday.  But more on that later.

The first period was an enjoyable one to watch.  It was physical without being overly aggressive, the Checkers had a lot of shots on goal, and guys like Chris Terry were frequently in the midst of the action, driving to the net and being physical.

But as soon as the second period started, it was like we were watching a freshly deflated whoopee cushion, without the excitement one feels as it makes that oh-so-special whoopee cushion sound.  The team was flat, the mere shell of what they have the potential to be.  They lacked energy, and seemed to be chasing the pucks as individuals instead of playing as a team.

Shots on goal were weak slapshots from the blue line, or wristers aimed directly at the chest of Smith.  Not exactly the types of shots that score goals.

The first goal 2:56 into the second period was the result of, at that point, nearly 23 minutes worth of the Admirals driving to the net and getting second chances.  They scored on the rebound, and after the number of times they had nearly driven over Mike Murphy, I’m not surprised he let one in.

Less than a minute later, in the midst of a line change by Charlotte, the Admirals scored their second of the night, an even-strength goal by Kyle WIlson.

The fourth goal?  Almost identical to the second of the night, it was the result of the Admirals driving to the net and being a physical presence in front of Murphy.  Ryan Flynn was able to bang a puck just barely past Murphy’s glove hand, who had no help from his defenseman in front of him.

All in all, not a good night.  Not an impressive showing by the home team who is trying to cement themselves into the post season.

Assorted thoughts in no particular order:

  • I have said this once, I’ll say it again, I really wish the AHL officially tracked (and published) time on ice.  Brody Sutter played in his professional debut having joined the Checkers on an Amateur Tryout last month. He was definitely out for a few shifts, briefly at times, but I have no idea what his total TOI was.  I do know he was in the midst of a line change and seemed a bit confused with the second goal of the night went in for the Admirals.  Not blaming younger Sutter, just sharing an observation.
  • Chris Terry impressed me tonight, mostly because he and Dalpe were about the only Checkers to consistently be in front of the net trying to get rebounds and second chances.  I guess the emphasis is on trying… because no Checker really had any second chances all night.
  • I like Sean Dolan a lot.  He’s scrappy and physical and aggressive.  He did crash the wrong net a couple of times which made me nervous, but I like that he isn’t afraid to get in the middle of something and make his presence known.
  • Is it too late for some team building exercises?  Something to promote unity in the group of athletes on the ice?  I have a good friend who teaches fitness classes with an emphasis on ballet and core conditioning.  She teaches professional athletes, and is one herself… maybe something like that would bring the team together.  (You want to see some athletes?  Go watch a ballerina… you will be amazed at their technique, control and physical strength).
  • I rarely take too much into account of +/- ratings because they don’t tell the whole story, but only four Checkers ended the game with a neutral rating tonight (Terry, Dolan, Brett Sutter and Chris Durno).  These were the only four players who didn’t disgust me at some point of the game.

RE:  AHL suspensions to the Milwaukee Admirals following their melee on Sunday against the Rockford IceHogs.

At about 4 p.m. this afternoon, the AHL finally announced suspensions and fines to the IceHogs and Admirals players (and coaches) following their bench-clearing altercation midway through the second period.

The altercation started a few seconds after a tv timeout happened, so the video I’ve seen is a bit spotty since the in-arena cameras were focused on non-ice activities during the break.  The way I understand it is the Admirals (as the home arena, and owner of the cameras) submit a DVD to the AHL, who then reviews the footage and assess the situation and hand out the penalties.  It’s a long process, for sure, but waiting until 4 p.m. two days after the event happened does seem a bit late in the game.  Is it blatant favoritism towards the Admirals?  I don’t think so, however I do think the Ads got off REALLY easy and could have had a much more severe penalty.

Admirals center Michael Latta, who left the penalty box to join the fighting, got a three-game suspension that began this evening in Charlotte, and will carry on through the Admirals Sunday game in San Antonio.

Goaltender Jeremy Smith was given one game, but isn’t serving it until Thursday night.

Milwaukee coach Ian Herbers was fined an “undisclosed” amount for his involvement.

What I want to know is how these incredibly light suspensions and penalties will affect precedence.  In my experience, leaving the penalty box usually results in a MUCH longer stretch of games, as in between 6-10.  Smith and the Admirals were given a HUGE favor when the AHL decided to let him serve his suspension on Thursday instead of tonight.  I guess in the wilds of Charlotte, far away from civilization and major International airports, the Ads couldn’t be expected to find a back-up goalie to fill in tonight.  Considering there have been times this season the Checkers didn’t have a backup until the second period due to injuries and flight delays, I guess I don’t have a great deal of empathy for the situation, and think the right thing would have been to suspend Smith immediately, as most every other suspension is done.

Gameday – Milwaukee at Charlotte

Milwaukee Admirals (34-28-2-4) at Charlotte Checkers (35-24-3-6)

  • This is game number 69 for both Milwaukee and Charlotte, and tonight is the first of three times they will face each other in the final two weeks of the regular season.
  • Charlotte is 4-1 against Milwaukee this season.  The last time the Admirals were in Charlotte, the Ads were near the top of the standings and being coached by a guy named Kirk Muller.  Muller, of course, is now the coach of the Hurricanes, and after a rather abysmal month of January (not unlike the Checkers stretch between February and mid-March), the Admirals are just outside of a playoff spot.
  • I kept checking the AHL news archives yesterday, but it appears there were no suspensions or further discipline following a bench-clearing incident on Sunday between the Admirals and IceHogs that resulted in the second intermission starting almost 10 minutes early so the two teams could have time to cool off.  Both coaches and goalies received game misconducts, among others.  For a better account, check out the Admirals Roundtable piece.
  • According to the team, AJ Jenks and Bobby Sanguinetti are both day-to-day.  If Jenks can’t play, amateur tryout (and 2011 Hurricanes draft pick, and first-cousin to Brett and Brandon),  Brody Sutter could make his professional debut tonight.
  • The Admirals have lost their last two games, while the Checkers are on their first two-game Winning streak since February 10, which was also the last time they faced Milwaukee.
The Playoff Picture:
  • According to the AHL, the Checkers “magic number” is 12, meaning they need to win six games in regulation, or pick up a 2-4 OT losses in addition to 4-5 wins in their final eight games to guarantee them a spot in the post season.  Knowing the magic number is nice, but since almost everyone in the West has a similar number, it’s still tough to tell how it’s all going to play out.  But Charlotte’s chances are very good, and they might not need all 12 points to make it in, especially since every point up for grabs in the next two weeks is against a team fighting just as hard to guarantee them a spot for the playoffs.
  • Milwaukee’s “magic number” is 17, which with only eight games left, is impossible, however, just like with the Checkers, they face the same pool of teams that Charlotte is, and each game will be crucial.  The playoffs are still a possibility, however they’ll need to sweep the games in Charlotte to really have a chance.
  • If the playoffs started today (and fortunately, they don’t), the Checkers would face Abbotsford, without home-ice advantage.  Let’s hope this does not become a reality on April 15.
Other notes worth mentioning:
  • Congratulations to Bobby Sanguinetti for being named as the Checkers Man of the Year. 
  • The LA Kings did a great piece on Darryl Sutter,  Brett Sutter’s dad.  It’s about Brett’s younger brother Chris, who was born with Down’s Syndrome.  It’s a great read, and a true testament to the power of a strong family.

Gametime: 7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte RadioWBCN 1660 AM


Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Milwaukee Twitter: @mkeadmirals@DaveBoehler,
Milwaukee Blog: The Admirals Roundtable
Officials
Referee:  Francis Charron (#46)
Linesmen: Joe DeMizio (#3), Jean Menard (#12)

Charlotte Checkers – Playoff Outlook and regular season wind-down

Eight games, and a maximum of 16 points are on the line in the next two weeks.

The Checkers play the next four games at home, then play four more during the final week of the regular season (three of which I will be at, live and in person!).

The race to the post season in the west is a tight one.  Only three points separate positions four through nine in the conference.

Here’s a brief look at Charlotte’s remaining opponents:

Milwaukee Admirals – The Checkers face them three times in the next two weeks.  Twice at home, and once on April 15, the final game of the regular season for both teams.  While Milwaukee isn’t currently in the playoffs, if they were to take all six points from Charlotte, the post season wouldn’t be out of the picture.  The Admirals have a record of 34-28-2-4 on the season, and have 74 points in 68 games played.  They are 1-3-1 against Charlotte, the only victory coming last November in Milwaukee.

Abbotsford Heat – The Checkers have back-to-back matinee games against the Heat next weekend at home.  Abbotsford is fourth in the conference with 80 points.  They are in what is probably the toughest division in the entire league, and are one of four teams from the West currently sitting in a playoff position.  The Checkers are 1-1 against the Heat after they split a pair of games in January in Abbotsford.

Rockford IceHogs – Currently in 11th, the IceHogs are just on the outside of the playoffs looking in, but if they took four points from Charlotte, that could potentially be enough to get them into the post season.  The Checkers are 4-1-0-1 against the IceHogs, and both games in Rockford resulted in wins for Charlotte.  With two more games there in a five-day stretch, those two games will be crucial to the Checkers playoff hopes, and quest for not only a spot in the post season, but home ice advantage that will probably require them to sit atop the Midwest division.

Peoria Rivermen – The Checkers have a record of 5-2 against Peoria this season, and face them one more time during the final weekend of the season.  The Rivermen are currently in eighth place in the west with 78 points in 71 games played.  Mike Murphy is 3-0 against the Rivs this season, so I for one hope he gets the start in two weeks against them in Peoria.

Other teams to watch out for:

Chicago Wolves – I’ll be doing a lot of scoreboard watching regarding the Wolves.  They currently sit atop the Midwest division, and are three points ahead of Charlotte with 82.  The scheduling gods were smiling on Charlotte when they made up the Wolves final weeks of the season.  From April 4-13, Chicago has a five-game roadtrip that has them play Oklahoma City, all three Texas teams, and finally a game in Grand Rapids, Michigan before returning home for their last two games of the season.  Needless to say, I’ll be cheering for their opponents over the roadtrip stretch.  With the Vancouver Canucks playoff future bright, there’s also the chance of losing valuable prospects to the NHL club, something the Wolves never had to worry about during their tenure with the Atlanta Thrashers.

San Antonio Rampage – Currently in a three-way tie with Charlotte for fourth place, the Rampage have 79 points in 70 games played.  Five of their final six games are at home, a factor that may prove to be incredibly beneficial.

Houston Aeros – The other third of the Checkers three-way tie, the Aeros have 79 points in 70 games played.  They are 32-23-5-10.  Yes.  They have lost 15 games after 60 minutes of play, including 10 lost shootouts.  That’s an incredibly crazy stat if you ask me, and is the highest number of loser-points given to a team in the entire league.

Checkers Gameday – Charlotte at Milwaukee

 Charlotte Checkers (24-20-1-1) at Milwaukee Admirals (28-16-2-2)

Tonight, the Checkers begin the first game of their three-in-three, and face a very different Admirals squad than the one they last saw on January 3.  The month of January was not a kind one to the Ads.  During that month, they went 3-9-1, and took a major tumble in the standings.  They currently sit in 19th place in the league.  To say they are slumping might be an understatement, but we’ve all seen  teams go through this kind of thing, and it doesn’t take much to snap out of it.  I for one, wouldn’t mind their slump continuing for a couple more days.

I'd rather see a Cheese Race any day than a naughty banana costume running around on the ice like in Charlotte.

The University of Wisconsin Badger band is going to be at the game, something Sean Dolan should enjoy, as he’s a recent graduate.  Dolan made his AHL debut one month ago in Milwaukee.  I think having the Badger band at a game is even cooler than the intermission cheese races that are famous in Milwaukee.

After four games this season, the Checkers lead the series with Milwaukee 3-1.  The Midwest Division as a whole has been good to Charlotte.  The Checkers have earned 23 of their 60 points against division rivals, and have a 11-4-0-1 record.

Stats and observations:

  • Charlotte and Milwaukee have one more thing in common, and that’s the most recent opponent.  The Admirals lost in Texas on Wednesday night with the abysmal score of 6-3.  Last Saturday, Charlotte also faced Texas, but came out the winners of that contest.
  • Stopping Chris Mueller will be a key for the Checkers tonight.  In four games against Charlotte, he has seven points (4G, 3A), and is the only Admiral with a positive +/- rating against the Checkers. Mueller also leads the Admirals in points with 43 on the season (21G, 12A) and is a -6.
  • Bobby Sanguinetti is on a 10-game point streak, the longest one in the AHL last night.  He’s had a point per game since January 12 (14 points in 10 games!).
  • Charlotte has the league’s second-best Power Play right now, and will be matched up against the Admirals 26th-“best” Penalty Kill. Yikes for the Ads, but good for the Checkers.
  • As far as the Penalty Kill goes, Charlotte has made it into the top 10, and currently sits in seventh.  The Admirals, despite struggling in the win column, maintain a strong power play, and are number 10 overall.
  • Milwaukee has only scored one short handed goal this season, which is good news to Charlotte, who have allowed eight on the season, including a disgusting 5-on-3 shortie in Texas on Saturday.
  • The Checkers have faced three different goalies in four games against the Admirals, If it’s regular starter Jeremy Smith tonight, he’ll be a familiar face to many of the Checkers. Smith is a former Plymouth Whaler, and some of his teammates included Justin Peters, Chris Terry, Brett Bellemore, AJ Jenks and Michal Jordan.  He’s 1-1 against Charlotte this year.  He has an overall record of 18-15-1-1, with a very respectable 2.47 GAA and .910 SV%.  Of course, he might be battling a few demons, as he’s only won two games in his last ten starts, while back up Atte Engren won his past two games on Sunday and Tuesday of this week.

Other Checkers News and Notes:

  • Justin Shugg is healthy again after missing almost two months due to injury, but has been returned to the Florida Everblades where he started the season.  It makes me very sad that the Checkers are down to only one Justin after beginning the season with a very promising four.
  • Chris Murray and Chris Durno practiced with the Checkers yesterday, but did not travel to Milwaukee and Peoria this weekend.

Be sure to check out The Admirals Roundtable after the game for a post-game write up.  Yours truly has to work, and won’t be able to spew my thoughts on this one.  Let’s Go Checkers!

Gametime: 8:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte RadioWBCN 1660 AM


Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Milwaukee Twitter: @mkeadmirals@DaveBoehler,
Milwaukee Blog: The Admirals Roundtable