Four-for-four – The Checkers will play in the West Division in 2013-14 following AHL realignment

I feel like I left my CD player on repeat… because I believe I’ve written about the Checkers changing divisions a few times already…

For the fourth time in the Checkers four seasons in the AHL, they will be in a new division in 2013-14, though this time, for the most part, the change is in name only.  For the AHL’s official release, you can go here.

The new division will be called the West division, which is comprised of four teams from last year’s South division, and one new addition.  The Abbotsford Heat are set to join the Checkers West  division, and nothing says West Division better than a team from North Carolina, in a city a short drive from the Atlantic ocean and about as far East as you can get! 

With the Houston Aero’s departure to become the Iowa Wild, the move of Peoria to New York to become the Utica Comets, other division moves occurred as well.

The Iowa Wild will become a part of the Midwest Division, filling in the hole that was left by the departure of the Peoria Rivermen.  The Utica Comets will join the North Division of the Western Conference, where Abbotsford was last year.

It’s interesting to note that the city of Utica is farther east than a number of New York Eastern Conference teams, including Syracuse, Binghamton, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey.  They will have to ride a bus through the Eastern conference city of Syracuse to reach their Western Conference division mates in Rochester, Lake Erie, Hamilton and Toronto.

With the AHL’s realignment news comes very little information on how these divisional changes will affect game scheduling.  Unlike the National Hockey League, the American League does not have an exact formula it uses when scheduling teams as far as how many times each team faces their division, conference and opposite conference teams.  Instead, it is a mix of choosing opponents, and deciding whether or not they wish to play teams outside of their conference.

In 2012-13, the Checkers had an all-time low of only 12 opponents over the course of the season’s 76 games.  They faced only 11 Western Conference opponents, and one in the Eastern Conference.  In the Checkers three seasons in the AHL, they have never played Toronto, Hamilton, Rochester or St. John’s (or it’s previous home of Winnepeg).  All of the other teams in the Checkers division last season faced each of the teams in the Western Conference at least twice. 

Just to put into perspective how few opponents Charlotte faced, here are a few examples of what other teams schedules were like in 2012-13:

  • Abbotsford, a team like Charlotte that has no conference teams within driving distance, faced only Western Conference teams, but played all 14 of them.
  • By contrast, the Rochester Americans, also a Western Conference team, had 15 different opponents.  Six of them were Eastern Conference teams, and the remaining 11 were from the Western Conference.  They only faced one team from the Midwest (Grand Rapids), and did not play the Checkers.
  • The Syracuse Crunch, an Eastern Conference Team, had 15 different opponents, including four in the Western Conference.  They did not play two teams in their own conference though.

While I understand that travel, particularly in the West, can be more of a burden than in the East where a team such as Springfield can travel to 10 different cities without needing a hotel room, it seems unfair to the teams, the competition and the fans, that there is such a huge difference between the number of teams faced.

Many in Charlotte are already concerned about the addition of Abbotsford to their division.  Will the Checkers face them a dozen times? No, of course not, and the AHL’s Jason Chaimovitch has already addressed that via Twitter.

https://twitter.com/JChaimo/status/355374440302919681

 

Will the Checkers play Abbotsford more than the four games of two and two schedule of the past two seasons? I’d have to assume so, but one more trip to beautiful British Columbia won’t be any more brutal than Charlotte’s usual travel (though the 10 p.m. starts for us on the East Coast will make for some late nights of listening to Jason Shaya!)

 

 

Do I anticipate the Checkers getting to play new teams, or having a more balanced schedule this season? Probably not. With the majority of it’s teams in north east, the AHL isn’t designed for balance, and has become even more unbalanced with one more team in New York, and one less in the west.  The biggest chance for a new city the Checkers will visit in 2013-14 will be Des Moines, home of the Iowa Wild.  I’ve heard the Checkers may return to the cities of at least one of their former Eastern conference foes, but the official word on that won’t come out until August when the schedule is released.

 

So, Checkers fans… what teams do you wish you could see in Charlotte? What about less of?  Who do you think I want to see in Charlotte? (Have I mentioned enough times here at Chasing Checkers and on Twitter what team(s) I want to see in Charlotte? Ha!)

 

 

 

Getting to know the San Antonio Rampage

Good afternoon!  Today, I bring to you the first in a four-part series about the Checkers new South Division teams.  Just as I did last season when the Checkers joined the Midwest division, I   put together a quick interview of some of the outstanding blogs and their top-notch writers to bring Checkers fans an insiders look at the new teams we are going to face more regularly.

Before I get to the Rampage interview, a couple of interesting tidbits:

  • The Checkers have announced they will be playing one preseason game, on the road, in Norfolk on October 6.  As this is the ONLY opportunity to drive to a Checkers game before early November, I’m planning to make the trip to Virginia.  Who’s with me?
  • There are multiple reports that the NHLPA and NHL have agreed to a special waiver period.  Beginning now, and ending on September 15, veteran players on two-way contracts can be assigned/loaned to their AHL squads.  They would have to be reassigned to their NHL squad three days before the NHL season starts in order to avoid waivers. The list of players in Charlotte this would affect includes Nic Blanchard, Brett Sutter, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Jerome Samson.
  • Here’s an article about the Flyers plans to send their younger players to the AHL should an NHL lockout happen.  I have yet to find any statements from the Hurricanes about their plans for players such as Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and others who are eligible to play in the AHL without clearing waivers or being affected by veteran limits.

Today’s interview is with Nathan over at Runnin’ With the Herd.  You can follow him on Twitter at @RampageNate.  He runs a great site, and was a wonderful source of information last year when the Hurricanes and Panthers made a big trade involving Jon Matsumoto, AJ Jenks and Evgenii Dadanov.

 

 

Chasing Checkers – Can you tell me a bit about hockey in San Antonio?

Runnin’ with the Herd – Hockey has grown exponentially in the five seasons I have lived here. In my first season (07-08), we averaged roughly 4500 per game. Every year, the average has increased, topping out this past season with a franchise record 7100+ per game. It is difficult competing with football here and the attendance takes a noticable upward swing after the first of the year. But the passion is definitely here and growing every season. The Spurs also own the Rampage so the relationship with regards to the ATT Center is flawless. Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SSE) has invested a lot of time and money into the Rampage and have a huge interest in seeing the franchise succeed both on and off the ice. 

 

CC – How is the relationship between San Antonio and Florida?

RWTH – The relationship is night and day compared to the first time these two teams were partnered up. The first go-round, the Rampage were a complete afterthought with no concern for player development or team success. Dale Tallon and Mike Santos have made a concerted effort to improve the team in both offseasons and during the season last year as I’m sure you are well aware. The addition of Matsumoto was probably the biggest acquisition of this franchise’s history.This summer, Santos was very active in free agency for the Rampage, signing JF Jacques, Jon Rheault, and Andre Deveaux. 

 

The Rampage have had a pretty non-descript history. I tend to look at their history in three phases. The first Florida affiliation, the Phoenix era, and the new Florida partnership. The first era saw very little success out of it’s players at the AHL level. Jay Bouwmeester played here briefly, as did Nathan Horton (Boston). Other than that, there is very little to really speak of. The Phoenix era brought us some better players. Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekmann-Larsson, Mikkel Boedker and Kyle Turris are probably the biggest names to play in San Antonio. We’ve seen a couple of veterans play here briefly before being bought out or moving on as well. Steven Reinprecht, Petr Prucha, and Anders Eriksson are a couple of examples. 

 

Continue reading

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!

 

 

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.

Quick Hits: Hurricanes trade Jon Matsumoto, prospect Lindstrom to Florida

With the departure of Jon Matsumoto, Chris Terry moves into the lead in points with 30, and Zach Boychuk now leads the team in goals with 12. You'll be missed, Matsy! (Photo - J. Propst)

First – Jon Matsumoto, thank you for your season and a half with the Checkers.  Your leadership helped the team make it to the Conference finals last year, and your consistant on-ice play and scoring prowess was a huge boost to the team and fans.  You will definitely be missed.  Best of luck with the Florida organization!

I’ve been digging for information on the two new players that became Hurricanes, and could end up in Charlotte.  The biggest name of the trade is right wing Evgenii Dadonov, a third-year North American pro from Russia.  He’s 22, and has split time between the AHL and NHL in each of his three years in North America.  Last year, Dadonov represented the Panthers at the 2011 All-Star Game in Raleigh as a member of the Rookie team.  This year, he’s spent time in Florida and San Antonio.  This year, in 15 games in the NHL, he as three points (2G, 1A) and is a -4.  In San Antonio, he has played 20 games, and has nine points (5G, 4A).

The Hurricanes also gain a player by the name of AJ Jenks.  He’s a Michigan native, and product of the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, where he played with Chris Terry, Brett Bellemore and Michal Jordan, and is possibly going to give his new teammates Mike Murphy and Matt Pistilli a run for the money on best ‘flo on the Checkers.  Jenks was recruited by the University of Michigan, but decided to go the major junior route.  Before making ice hockey his career, he won two national championships as an inline player, and also represented the United States in the 2010 World Junior Championship, where he won a gold medal. (Woo!  Go Team USA!)

 

In other Checkers news:

  • Earlier today, the Hurricanes returned Brett Sutter to the Checkers.  He will join the team in Abbotsford, where they play Friday and Saturday.
  • In the same “transaction,” they recalled Zac Dalpe.  Dalpe leaves Charlotte on a hot streak, and I fear he won’t be back anytime soon due to his exceptional play.
  • Defenseman Chris Murray did not travel with the team to British Columbia.  Ryan Donald was recalled from the Everblades, and traveled to Abbotsford for the weekend games.  Donald will make his debut for Charlotte.  In Florida this year, he has 11 points in 33 games (3G, 8A).
  • I still have no proof of this, but believe this to be the Checkers first game in their history (at any level) in Canada.  It’s a long time coming, if you ask me, for the organization to play in the land that hockey was born!

Checkers Wreck the Rampage – Win 2-1

I almost didn’t recognize the team last night compared to the one that played on Tuesday night.  The Checkers started the game with a whole new level of energy, and it carried through the first two periods, and enough into the third to carry the win.

Official gamesheet is HERE.

In their final of four matchups this season, the Checkers were able to defeat the San Antonio Rampage 2-1 last night in Charlotte.  The two teams are now 2-2 on the season, and it would probably be a miracle for Charlotte to meet San Antonio in the playoffs (that’s assuming San Antonio can even make the playoffs with the new format).

The Checkers battled through three periods, though the third was a bit of a letdown defensively.  They allowed more shots in the third (17) than in the previous two periods, and their shots on goal decreased by nearly 50 percent during the final 20 minutes of the game.

Last night say John Muse make his first start for the Checkers this season, and he fought off a huge number of attempts by the Rampage, stopping all but one of the 43 shots he faced.  He’s a very different goaltender than the other two Charlotte has had this season.  Muse is lacking some of the technique and finesse of Mike Murphy and Justin Peters, but he got the job done.  He’s also a very different build, which lends to a different style of play.  At times Muse looked a bit uneasy and flopped around when trying to make saves, but his teammates had his back, and he had a great first start.  It’s a huge boost to the entire team to have a reliable backup to starting netminder Murphy, and right now they have that with Muse.

  • Riley Nash left the game during the first with an apparent knee injury, but returned in time to score the game winning goal in the third.
  • The first icing of the game wasn’t called until five minutes into the second period.  Just shows the completely different style of play last night than has been typical.
  • Overall, the Checkers did a great job getting into the crease and really challenging Dov Grumet-Morris.  This pressure is what led to the two goals, specifically the first one of the game by Jerome Samson.
  • It was SO GREAT to have Zac Dalpe back in action.  Sometimes, I forget what a huge asset someone is until they come back.
  • The lines were more respectable last night.  As the season has progressed, the grinder types seem to have mixed in a bit more with our offensive dynamos, and it worked well last night.
  • Jared Staal still seemed out of place, despite returning to the fourth line once again.  I would have enjoyed seeing Matt Beca get a second look.
  • Bobby Sanguinetti was scratched in lieu of Derek Joslin, who is in Charlotte on a conditioning stint.  I hope this is not a sign of Sanguinetti having further injury woes.
  • Joslin was a great addition to the Checkers defense last night.  His veteran experience was a nice change of pace, and after he gets more comfortable with his new (temporary) teammates I hope to see more good things from him.  (And of course, by then, he’ll be back in Raleigh!)
  • Defensive pairings were switched around some, in a way I like.  Michal Jordan and Brett Bellemore were back together for the first time in weeks.  Mathieu Roy was paired with Joslin, and Justin Krueger and Rasmus Rissanen were together as usual.

Quick hits news and notes:

  • The AHL announced their All-Star rosters yesterday and named Jerome Samson and Jon Matsumoto to the western team.  I’m not really sure the rationale behind the players selected from any of the teams (other than the fact Charlotte’s players lead their team in points) but it’s fantastic the Checkers have two representatives.
  • Hopefully it’s not as severe as I’ve heard, but I fear Chris Durno could be out for awhile.  He is currently sidelined with an injury I’ve been told is a concussion from the game in Chicago on New Year’s Eve.

Checkers Shut Down 2-0

More insight on last nights matchup from Allan.  Hoping tonight is a different game from the one we saw last night!  Let’s Go Checkers!

 

Not a lot good to say about this game, the team as a whole looked slowed and flat footed.  A few notes and observations.

1. Jared Staal looked AWFUL; he got moved up to Matsumoto/Terry line and I hope to never see that again.  Turnovers, got pushed off the puck constantly, poor stick handling and I swear it looked like he was trying to get to bench as soon as he could to get a change.  Bring back Scott Pitt from Florida at least he showed he wanted to play in the AHL. Staal needs to be right back down to the fourth line tomorrow.

2.  Both goals were caused by a lot of standing around, San Antonio walked in and was allowed 2 uncontested passes on the PP goal and Rissanen lost his man on the second goal which was stuffed in on the post.

3. The only line that showed consistent hustle and pressure was the Boychuck/Nash/Pistilli line.  They caused by far the most chances and seemed to be the only forwards that went all out for 60 minutes.

4.  Glenn Wesley was at the game scouting for the Canes–I sit very close to where the Raleigh group observes and he spent a lot of the game shaking his head.  He also stopped taking notes and packed up with about 5 minutes left, he knew the outcome well before the final horn.

5.  Matt Beca played pretty well in his first AHL action, hopefully the team will take a longer look at him and sit other players who aren’t giving it their all.

6. Dov Grumet-Morris gave up no cheap goals but was never really challenged, I remember him last year on a call up to the Conn. Whale shutting down the Checkers again.  He played for the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL) last year (my hometown team I follow) and based on his play in the ECHL and AHL I do not know why he has not got a longer look from a team.  I hope he is not in net tomorrow.

7. The main positive is that the Checkers go right back onto the ice tomorrow and hopefully will erase this poor performance.

Postgame – Checkers flop in Charlotte, lose 2-0 to San Antonio

It’s hard to put together any kind of thoughtful reflections on a game that just…. was a major disappointment.

Official gamesheet is here.

After a fantastic weekend in the Midwest (for the Checkers AND for me!), and games that had lots of positives as far as the Checkers were concerned (beyond them getting four points… I’m talking their great play on the ice… their physicality, fierceness, and just doing all of those fundamentals so well) it was hard to watch a lackluster game tonight in Charlotte.

I had great hopes for the game.  But it’s like, after the “no-goal” call in the first period, the team went a bit flat.  Heck, the first star was a goaltender who has only been playing in North America this season since November 22, and spent most of last year in the ECHL in Greenville.  The second star was Mark Cullen, who only today was returned to the Rampage from a stint with the Florida Panthers.  By no means am I suggesting Grumet-Morris and Cullen shouldn’t have been first and second star, just… well, the Checkers should have played better to deserve some of the “Three stars” recognition.

From what I’ve heard and understand, the goal was waved off because allegedly there was a delayed penalty that was about to be called on the Rampage, and the referee believed a Rampage player touched the puck, therfore ending the play.  I didn’t hear a whistle, and didn’t see a clear call on the ice during the replay, but I guess that’s why I’m not an official on the ice, eh?  Regardless, that no-goal seemed to continue the relatively lackluster play on the ice.

I have to do some AHL rulebook research, but I was surprised that play wasn’t stopped during the second when Mark Cullen was bleeding pretty profusely from the face.  It seems he tried to check a Checker into the boards, and instead checked his face into them, ending up with a pretty big gash down his nose.  He continued to play, despite bleeding a great deal, and honestly, I was starting to get a bit squeamish.

I wish I had more to say about the game tonight.  It was pretty frustrating to watch!

 

Peripheral thoughts:

  • I took pages of notes at the three arenas I visited this weekend.  One of the things I took notes on were how vocal the fans were, and awesomely together on their chants and cheers, particularly in Rockford and Milwaukee.  To the guys in 103?  I Salute you!  Your taunts were hilarious and awesome.  I just wish MORE would get involved and come together.  Some of the things I heard may have been slightly inappropriate in a family setting, but they were hilarious and awesome.
  • Tonight, the Checkers started a new “in game” promotion with their secondary Twitter account, asking fans to predict the first goal scorer from the Checkers.  Can we blame this promo for jinxing the team to be shutout?  I’m kidding, mostly…
  • Jared Staal should not be on a line with Chris Terry and Jon Matsumoto.  Ever.  I think Chris Durno’s last minute absence from the line-up was a pretty major hindrance to the team.
  • On that note, I hope Durno is back soon, and Justin Shugg, as well… or maybe one of the forwards that are in Raleigh will be returned to Charlotte…. the Checkers are almost out of players to recall from Florida!
  • The AHL is announcing the All-Star rosters tomorrow.  Captains were already announced…. one from Hershey, one from Chicago (big surprise).  Starters will be voted on after the rosters are released tomorrow.  Who are your Charlotte predictions?  If the Checkers don’t have two guys on the team, I’ll be a bit annoyed, but who knows…

 

 

Gameday: San Antonio at Charlotte

Editor’s Note:  Yours truly is trapped in Eastern Kentucky, trying to get home after a fantastic roadtrip to three Midwest division cities over the weekend.  I have pages and pages of notes of things to write about following my roadie, but alas, I haven’t had time with all of the bad weather and driving.  I hope to make it home in time for the game tonight, but who knows if that will happen!  Here’s an ever-so-brief preview of tonight’s game!  Let’s Go Checkers!

 San Antonio Rampage (15-15-2-0) at Charlotte Checkers (19-11-2-1)

  • This is the Checkers first game at home since December 20.  Their last two games came on the road (and were AWESOME, I know from first-hand experience!).  The team is in the midst of a five-game point streak as well.
  • This is the third meeting with San Antonio, and the first time the Rampage has visited Charlotte.  The Checkers are 1-1 in the previous two games.
  • With the Admiral’s losses over the weekend, and Charlotte’s winning ways in Illinois, the Checkers retook the Midwest Division lead.  Of course, it’s important to note that the Admirals are still a number of games back in terms of games played, so don’t let the points fool you, it’s still a tight race.
  • Like Charlotte, San Antonio last played on New Years Eve, on the road.  Their’s was also a win, but against the Oklahoma City Barons.
  • The Rampage are in the toughest division in the AHL.  They don’t have a winning record at home (8-9-0), but are pretty strong on the road with a record of 7-6-2.  It’s the same number of points, but a better actual winning percentage during road games.
  • In two games played against San Antonio, Chris Terry leads the Checkers in goals with two.
  • Mike Murphy is 1-0 against San Antonio, and should start tomorrow night with Justin Peters still in Raleigh.  He has a 1.000 GAA and a 0.972 SV% against the Rampage.
  • The Checkers special teams have climbed into the top ten after struggling a bit earlier in the season.  Their Power Play is ranked ninth, and the Penalty Kill is in a very respectable seventh place.
  • The Rampage, however, struggle with their special teams units. The PP is 30th in the league, and the PK is 27th.
  • With the ever changing transaction board, It continues to be hard to keep track of who is on the Rampage, or their NHL or ECHL affiliates… 
  • I’m scheduling this to post early in the morning after I get on the road, so if anything changes between now and then, I’ll edit it later!  Be sure to check out Paul Branecky’s preview on the Checkers website for more great info!  I hope to see y’all in Charlotte tonight!
Checkers Leaders:
  • Points – Jon Matsumoto with 29 (13G, 16A).
  • Goals – Jerome Samson with 14.
  • Assists – Chris Terry with 16.
  • Penalties in Minutes – Justin Soryal with 70.
Rampage Leaders:
  • Points – Bracken Kearns with 20 (10G, 10A)
  • Goals – Bracken Kearns with 10.
  • Assists – Defenseman  Colby Robak with 14.
  • Penalties in Minutes –  Eric Sellec with 88.

Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio: WBCN 1660 AM

Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
San Antonio Twitter: @SARampage@RampageNate
San Antonio Blog:  Running with the Herd
Officials:
Referees:   David Banfield (#44), Curtis Marouelli (#58)
Linesmen: Mark Hamlett (#81), Paul Carnathan (#93)

Gameday: Charlotte at San Antonio

 Charlotte Checkers (15-9-1-1) at San Antonio Rampage (11-14-0-0)

  • This afternoon marks the second of four meetings against the Rampage.  Previously, the Checkers played in San Antonio, winning by a score of 4-1.
  • San Antonio beat the Peoria Rivermen last night at home.  It was a 2-1 win for Rampage netminder Dov Grumet-Morris.
  • Charlotte has lost two in a row, and goalie Justin Peters is winless in his past three starts.  These are two stats I hope to not repeat on Thursday for the Checkers next home game.
  • After missing 10 games due to injury, Bobby Sanguinetti is expected to make his return to the lineup.
  • The Rampage have a stat that will hopefully benefit the Checkers.  San Antonio the worst power play and the worst penalty kill in the league.
  • The Rampage power play has only resulted in 10 goals (and 98 attempts).  The Checkers have scored 23 times on the PP, out of 130 chances.
  • Wacey Rabbit, my favorite Rampage player based solely on his awesome name, has five points (1G, 4A) in 19 games played.
  • In only 20 games played, Bracken Kearns leads the Rampage with 16 points, and the team in goals with eight.
  • Six different goalies have played games for San Antonio this season.  Since November 25, Dov Grumet-Morris and Jacob Markstrom have been splitting time.  Grumet-Morris is 4-1-0-1 with a 1.59GAA and .936 SV%.  Markstrom is 2-5-0 with a 2.91 GAA and 0.898 SV%.
  • Keeping track of who is playing for San Antonio on any given night has got to be a challenging.  They have an even worse revolving door than the Checkers, Everblades and Hurricanes have with the Zac(h)s and Justins.  Don’t believe me?  Check out their transaction record.

Gametime:  4:15 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio: WBCN 1660 AM

Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,

 

San Antonio Twitter: @SARampage@RampageNate
San Antonio Blog:  Running with the Herd

 

Officials
Referee: Jeff Smith (#49), Zac Wiebe (#89)
Linesmen: Brad Phillips (#82), Brian Oliver (#80)