Hi, and welcome to another post at Chasing Checkers where there is more photographic content than actual writing. Maybe I’ve finally rediscovered the love I have for my camera. Maybe it’s because I realized I barely shot anything last year, and still have a number of games worth of photos that have never been edited or taken off of my flash card. Either way, it’s been fun to watch the game through a lens this week.
I only shot about half of one period of hockey yesterday. The Extreme Ice Center is a tough place to watch a game…. it doesn’t have the best sight lines, and the fluorescent lighting is always tricky for me to color balance. Oh, and then there’s the fact it’s a practice facility with scuffed glass and no photo portholes. I got a few interesting photos though. I like that many of them tell a story. So here you go… a game story through pictures!
Zach Boychuk scored one in the Checkers 4-2 win over Norfolk on Friday in Indian Trail. (Photo – J. Propst)
This is Zach Boychuk. I like this photo for a lot of artistic reasons, and the fact he looks grown up. Still an incredibly young man of 23 (for the next week, anyway!), he’s matured a lot over the years in Charlotte. It took him most of the summer to negotiate his RFA contract with the Hurricanes, and he ended up with a one year, two-way deal. He has the offensive skill to be a great forward at the NHL level, but after a rough season last year that saw him play for three different NHL teams, he has a lot to prove. I know what he can do for the Checkers, and what an asset he can be, he just has to show that day in and day out to his team and organization. It should be interesting to watch.
Zack Stortini of the Norfolk Admirals. (Photo – J. Propst)
Zack Stortini is a guy who I’ve followed for a long time. I actually didn’t know he was playing in Norfolk this year, and am looking forward to seeing him more than his #Norfolking Admiral team. The first year I really followed hockey, it was almost exclusively via the radio, the year the Hamilton Bulldogs most recently won the Calder Cup. Stortini was a part of that squad, and just like he is now, was kind of a smack talking enforcer. At the first NHL game I ever attended in Nashville, I ran into him in a bar downtown, and didn’t have a clue who he was (remember? I followed him on the radio! no pictures!). I assumed he was a hockey player (his teeth, or lack of them, gave t away) but mostly he was just a nice guy having a beer after a game. Stortini’s a bit of a goon and definitely caused some troubles for the Checkers, but he was fun to watch. For once, the game yesterday at the Extreme Ice Center was quiet. It was a small crowd, a tiny room compared to that of an arena, and there wasn’t annoying music blaring every time there was a stop in play. I could hear the game. I could hear the heckling of the refs from the stands, and the chirps the players said to each other, and the goalies talking to their teammates. It was pretty great! I liked hearing Zack run his mouth, and the Checkers run theirs in return. I wish there were more music-less games!
Max Friberg skates for the Norfolk Admirals, with Austin Levi of the Charlotte Checkers in close pursuit. (Photo – J. Propst)
Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about the Norfolk Admirals team. This is Max Friberg, who took a puck off the leg early in the game and limped off in a lot of pain, but returned to action and appeared pretty unscathed. I know that at 5’11, Mr. Friberg is one of the bigger players on his team, save the goalie, because at 6’4 and 250 pounds, Frederik Anderson is HUGE. According to the roster I have for the Admirals from yesterday, they had six players who were 5’9 and under. Which is kind of cool, really. My favorite Charlotte Hornet was Muggsy Bogues, and any long-time Charlottean can tell you what that guy could do with a basketball despite being 5’3.
Aaron Palushaj skates for the Charlotte Checkers. (Photo – J. Propst)
From an artistic standpoint, I love this photo. I love the contrast of the skater in the foreground, and the way the depth of field blurs his teammates just a bitin the background, but how easy it is to tell they are in tune with him, watching him as he skates with the puck towards the net. This photo makes me love my 70-200 mm/f2.8 lens even more than I already did! I’m pretty sure this is Aaron Palushaj. If I’m wrong, well, I’ll post a retraction immediately! Lack of sleeve numbers and so many new faces decreases my confidence level! Aaron had a phenomenal debut for the Checkers yesterday. He scored two goals, was incredibly physical, and was a part of an incredible line alongside Zach Boychuk and Victor Rask. If Coach Daniels keeps these three together, they will be a force to be reckoned with. While the lines seemed to change a bit as the game went on, this line stuck together for three periods of hockey.
Matt Marquadt is quickly becoming one of my favorite Checkers with his physical, offensive play. (Photo- J. Propst)
Matt Marquadt was a mid season addition to the Checkers last year, and I’m incredibly hopeful he makes the final squad at the end of camp this fall. He’s gritty, and has no problem using his size down in front of the crease.
Other notes and observations:
- The two fights involved Brendan Woods and Stefan Della Rose. Both are bubble players in the sense that they are among a long list of guys not guaranteed a spot in Charlotte. They can certainly play, but so can 15 other guys! Toughness is something the Checkers have lacked at times, so seeing two so willing to stand up for their teammates was a nice change.
- Speaking of Woods, his dad is an assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks, the parent club of the Norfolk Admirals. I wonder how he’d feel knowing his son dropped the gloves against some of his prospects? As a Checkers fan, it made me proud!
- If these pictures weren’t enough, here’s a link to my personal photos.
- I think there was more heckling of the official, Jason Rollins, than there was of the entire #NorfolkingAdmirals team. Is there a more disliked guy by Charlotte Checkers fans? He did miss some pretty blatant calls, like a high stick to Rasmus Rissanen’s mouth late in the third period.
- Though many NHL teams have already made their AHL assignments to be compliant with the 23-man roster limit, as of the posting of this article, the Hurricanes have not assigned anyone else to the AHL (or, put them on waivers, as the case may be). There are 16 forwards, nine forwards and 2 goaltenders in Raleigh. They must send four players to the AHL or back to their junior team to remain compliant with NHL rules. The only way around this would be to place players in Injured Reserved, and according to multiple sources, there are a handful of guys who may have significant injuries.
- Currently, the Hurricanes have the following players who spent the majority of last season with the Checkers: Brett Bellemore, Zac Dalpe, Brett Sutter, Chris Terry, Riley Nash and Jeremy Welsh. Additionally, Matt Corrente and Ryan Murphy have been rumored as potential Charlotte Checker additions. It’s safe to say that three or four of the names mentioned will be in Charlotte in the coming days (waivers permitting, of course! All but Welsh and Murphy must clear waivers to be assigned to the AHL).