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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I spent my summer vacation, by Chasing Checkers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Charlotte Checkers win big against San Antonio, gain two more points in the standings.

The Charlotte Checkers came away with a gritty 4-3 win over San Antonio in front of a sold-out crowd tonight.

Chris Terry scored two of the Checkers three powerplay goals, extending his streak to five games.  He now has seven points over that stretch of games, and 31 points over the last 25 games (12g, 19a).  He’s sixth in the league with 59 points (26g, 23a). That’s #Terryiffic.

Despite two full powerplay opportunities for Charlotte during the first period, the team was outshot 13-11 and no scoring for either team.  The second period, thanks in part to nearly two minutes on a 5-on-3, had the Checkers outshooting their opposition 21-9, and had the Checkers leading 3-1 by the end of it.

San Antonio found the back of the net twice in the third period, but a late powerplay goal by Terry sealed the Checkers victory over the Rampage.

Nicolas Blanchard stood out as a major roleplayer in tonight’s win.  He was in the right place at the right time, and a key to Brody Sutter’s second period goal, and Coach Jeff Daniels spoke highly of Blanchard’s on-ice performance.

“Blanch is a guy [who] as coaches, we really appreciate.” Daniels continued, “We appreciate what he does not only for us but for his teammates on the ice.”

Chris Terry, the game’s first star, knows Sunday’s game will be another battle.

“They’ve got a really good team. A lot of NHL guys who play the body, play hard,” Terry continued, “We’re going to expect the same thing. We’re going to have to push back and nothing less than two points is acceptable at this time of the year.”

The playoff push continues for Charlotte, who now 12 games remaining, including two more against San Antonio.

Game Four Recap – Checkers lose to Barons by a seven-goal margain

It’s safe to say tonight’s game incited many choice words and it’s hard to find a place to begin.

Everything looked clear on the front during warm-ups, the team had obvious high spirits and seemingly no worry as to whether or not this game was theirs. The beginning of the game sported some true playoff hockey despite scoring starting with a seemingly fluke goal by the Barons 34 seconds in. As time passed, probably the longest first period of our lives, OKC showed just how bloodthirsty they were for a win. Edging on elimination they gave all they had and then some as dirty play began to ensue. No one was the poster child for this quite like Ben Eager. Eager’s play was cheap and full of instigation, earning him a ten minute game misconduct before the conclusion of the second period.

Regardless, the end of the first period left hope. After watching OKC take 3 goals without ever looking back the Checkers needed to regroup and come back with a fire. Instead it took 5 minutes and 27 seconds for Rob Madore to be pulled. Current backup and fan favorite, Michael Murphy, entered the game, one he was surely not prepared for and arguably had no chance to be. The second period was awful, no other way to put it or option to sugar coat it. The Checkers had three shots on goal. Yes, three. Instead of regrouping they allowed the Barons to get under their skin and affect their play. For a large portion of the period they were played as puppies chasing their tails in hopes that something would happen. This proved unfruitful though, thankfully only two more goals were allowed in the hellish second.

When the third came around, Charlotte actually seemed somewhat rejuvenated and was well aware of the play they had to make up for. Things improved slightly, but nowhere near where they should have been. The Checkers did see some inspired play in the third after Zach Boychuk potted Charlotte’s only goal of the night. The team had not given up but the messy icing on the cake was surely having one of our own players tip in a goal on himself. But that is the story of the game. The loss was one the team gave to itself. Play was sloppy on both ends of the ice and frustrated to say the least, I’m not even sure Brett Sutter properly received a pass all night. Despite this the blame cannot be placed solely on one players’ shoulders, it is a burden that the entire team carries in one way or another.

All in all, this night is past everyone. It’s over. Tomorrow brings a new game, a new opportunity, a fresh start to advance to the second round of playoffs. The Checkers must take that new opportunity and face it as if this is the first game they’ve played against OKC. They have to lay everything on the ice and will have to bring their focus back to the moment rather than focusing on the frustrations of tonight’s game. The Checkers have all the talent in the world to make Calder a reality, but face elimination tomorrow night at 7pm.

The History Behind the Cup

It’s game day, so what better way to prepare than learning a bit about the ultimate goal of the playoffs! Thanks, as always, to the great writing team of Tess and Sara here at Chasing Checkers! – Jenni – Editor-of-Awesome

Most hockey fans know the history behind the Stanley Cup, but what about the Calder? The Calder Cup is 77 years old and bears its namesake from the late great, Frank Calder. This Cup is awarded to the American Hockey League’s final playoff championship winner. It is also the second oldest trophy of it’s kind, only trailing Stanley itself.

Frank Calder is a familiar name to many. Another piece of hardware claims the Calder title, the NHL’s Calder Memorial Trophy given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.” Calder served as the NHL’s first president from 1917 to 1943 and was instrumental in making hockey what it is today.

The first Calder Cup was given in 1938, the same year that the IHL (International) and C-AHL (Can-Am) formally merged together as one, to the Providence Reds. The season prior, when the leagues merely had interlocking schedules, the 1937 Syracuse Stars allegedly never got the privilege of receiving the Cup despite being the rightful champions and in 1996 finally had the chance to hoist it.

This season nurtures the Checkers’ second run at the Cup, their first was in their AHL inaugural season (2010-2011) where Charlotte made it all the way to the semi-finals only to lose four straight games to the Binghamton Senators and relinquish their fight to glory.

The Calder Cup stands at 24 inches tall, a beautiful mix of sterling silver and Brazilian mahogany boasting the names of the last 20 teams to hoist the hardware.
Be sure to go out and support your Checkers on the road to the Calder and help to make them a bigger part of this history!

OKC Barons drill the Checkers. Charlotte loses 4-2.

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Luke Pither has been a bright spot on the Checkers during the past month, and one of the most significant additions to the post-lockout team. (Photo – J. Propst)

It was a pretty ugly loss in Charlotte tonight.  Though not as devastating as it could have been, the Checkers fell by a score of 4-2 to the Oklahoma City Barons.  The first two periods were just abysmal, and the third only slightly better.  Overall though, the Checkers couldn’t maintain control of the puck, rarely were able to take it into the offensive zone, and lacked any of the effort required to win hockey games.    

In the first period, Checkers goaltender John Muse, in his first game as the number one goaltender in Charlotte, he allowed three shots on four goals.   

What impressed me the most though, was that Muse was able to shake it off and come back into the game, allowing one more goal on 20 shots. It’s not easy to shake off one of the worst periods I’ve ever seen a goaltender have, but Muse did it, which I believe is a great sign of his potential.  

An ever changing lineup certainly contributed to a lackluster performance by the Checkers, the team knows what needs to be done to get back to winning.

Sean Dolan was very honest about what needs to happen to get back to winning. “We’ve got to come out more physical and know we have a good team. Doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup or who’s not in the lineup. You’ve got to play as a team like coach says, and come out and, you know, bang bodies and get pucks on net.”

 

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Chris Terry, though not on the scoresheet tonight, has contributed to the Checkers seven-game streak of a perfect penalty kill. In 26 attempts, no other team has scored while Charlotte is on the PK. (Photo – J. Propst)

Chris Terry, one of the few players who has played in every game for the Checkers this season with the exception of a brief AHL suspension he served earlier in the year, knows he has to continue being a leader on the ice, especially as a skater who is a key member of the Checkers special teams, and a veteran leader.  

“I don’t think my role is changed… ” Terry said, “I need to do my job everywhere and obviously scoring has been a good thing lately, but I don’t put any added pressure.”

Positives to look forward to after a tough loss, and a few random thoughts that don’t fit anywhere else:

  • Tomorrow at noon, there’s always the chance that the Checkers could have a new (again) forward by the name of Zach Boychuk. The Pittsburgh Penguins put him on waivers today, and the Hurricanes are the only team in the NHL that could claim him and assign him to the AHL.
  • Rob Madore is the newest addition to the Checkers.  He dressed as John Muse’s backup for the first time tonight, and with Cam Ward’s season-ending injury and Justin Peters recall to the Hurricanes, it looks like Madore will be in Charlotte for the duration.
  • John Muse, while pretty flat in the first period, came back to have a strong rest of the game. Hopefully, his turn-around mentality will rub off on his teammates and they’ll find a way to turn it around!  There’s #NorfolkingWay the Checkers can allow another loss in Virginia like they did last week!
  • A fellow writer sent me this link today. After you read the dodgy German translation, what do you think about the author saying Justin Krueger may be headed back to the Swiss elite league? I think he’s been a great asset to the blue line in Charlotte, and would hate for there to be any truth to the rumor.  I feel like it’s wishful thinking on the part of his former team and it’s fans, just like I can name a few thousand (million?) Canes and Checkers fans who would do just about anything to see Mike Murphy return to the Hurricanes organization!
  • A very small sampling of photos from tonight’s game can be found here

Twas the night before gameday… a Checkers Christmas Poem

Merry Christmas Checkers fans! I wanted to share a bit of holiday cheer and figured a cheesy knockoff of a popular holiday poem was the perfect way to do that.  Enjoy the time you have with family and friends, and I will see you all in a couple of weeks in Raleigh!

 

Twas the night before gameday, when all though the rink
Not a player was stirring, not even Drayson Bowman
The jerseys were hung by their stalls with care,
In hopes that Checkers fans soon would be there;
The players were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Calder Cups danced in their heads.
Elle in her sparkly shoes, and Wilson in his cap,
Had just settled down for a pregame nap –
When out on the ice there arose such a clatter,
Shaya sprang from the booth to see what was the matter.
Away to the plexiglass he flew with a flash,
Jumped up on the bench and climbed over the dash

The vari-lites shined on the freshly laid ice

Gave the luster of game-time to the videoboard
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a zamboni and eight mighty skaters,
With a big bear driver, so lively and bubbly
I knew in a moment it must be Chubby.
Speedier than NASCARs, the players they skated,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Krueger, now! Ellis, now! Sutter and Terry
“On! Blanchard, on! Boychuk! Dalpe and Sanguinetti;
“To the blueline! To the top of the crease!
“Now score away! Score away! Score away all!”
Chubby sprang into his seat, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, a victory flight
And I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Quick synopsis 2012-13 rule changes

Along with the announcement of the division change today the AHL announced a few changes to the rules, and a “test” variation of a rule we currently know and (sometimes) love!

12-13 – Rule 67.2 (“Handling the Puck”) now calls for a minor penalty “any time a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it from or prevent an opponent from playing the puck”.

11-12 – 67.2 Minor Penalty – Player – A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place it or knock it down to the ice. If he catches it and skates with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over his opponent, a minor penalty shall be assessed for “closing his hand on the puck”. A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who, while play is in progress, picks up the puck off the ice with his hand.

It seems they altered the wording for this rule to make it a little easier to assess what they meant, but I’m not entirely sure if they’re going to include the “catches it and skates with it” aspect from last season’s rule book. I do like that they specifically included when it is on the ice, after seeing it happen at least once last season, but it doesn’t make a huge deal of a difference

12-13 – Rule 76.4 (“Face-offs”) states that “both players facing off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off.” Violation of this rule will result in a minor penalty for delay of game.

I personally do not agree/like this rule whatsoever. Sure, count it as a face off violation and throw a different player in the face-off, but a minor penalty? I could possibly see that being determined as a penalty after a player commits it more than once in a specific time frame, possibly being the key word there. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen players do this a few times, and I just considered it a part of the face off battle. There’s nothing like this rule in the NHL rule book either, so there may be a possibility of the NHL requesting to “test” this rule in the AHL like they sometimes do before phasing it into the big leagues. But I’m sure we may see our fair share of delay of game penalties resulting from this new addition.

• The Board has also approved a test of a variation on Rule 81 (“Icing”) at the request of the National Hockey League, that will, in the event of a potential icing violation, complete the play should a defending player be the first to reach the end zone face-off dots and provided the puck has crossed the goal line at that point. This rule will be in effect until Nov. 19, 2012, at which time its continued use will be determined by the Board. This was the only rules test approved.

If you don’t already know what exactly icing entails, you can read more about it under rule 81 in the AHL rule bookI’m going to go ahead and assume that this is the NHL’s way of phasing in the no-touch icing that many leagues are now adopting. Considering how many injuries can occur from players racing after the puck to eliminate an icing call, or to swing the call in their favor, I love this rule. I’m a huge advocator of the way some leagues have began using no-touch icing rules.

Not many rule changes this summer, and no big changes by any means. I do believe there are a few rules that deserve some tweaks to them(delay of game is a big one there) but for now, we’ll have to take what hockey news we can get and wait patiently(ha) for the schedule to be released later this summer. In the end, player safety should be the number one concern, especially with the growing numbers of known/reported concussions steadily rising…but that’s a post for another day.

Checkers return home after a flight-filled weekend in the Midwest. Gameday: Norfolk at Charlotte

Well, the roadtrip part of the Checkers 3-in-3 weekend is over.  Yours truly spent the weekend with models and ballerinas (I lead a glamorous life, people!) which left very little time to watch hockey, which would have been preferable, honestly.  But North Carolina Dance Theater put on a fantastic event with some incredible dancing, and I’m proud to have taken part in it.

Chris Terry battles for the puck with Kyle Wilson. (Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Admirals)

The Checkers traveled to Wisconsin and Illinois this weekend to take on two division rivals.  They won on Friday 2-1 in overtime with a goal by Zac Dalpe, but since I missed the game, I suggest you head over to the Admirals Roundtable for their take on the event.  I will say, it was the Ads 10th-straight loss to a division opponent.  Yikes.

Last night was a not-so-pretty game by the Checkers.  They lost

Dave Caruso stopped 42 of 47 shots in his Checkers debut. (Photo: Scott Neer @TSNPhotography / Peoria Rivermen)

to division rivals by a score of 5-2. I caught bits and pieces of it, muted, on AHL Live while at work.  The Checkers allowed a season-high 47 shots on goal in newcomer goalie Dave Caruso’s first start for Charlotte.  He made 42 saves, which is impressive, but clearly didn’t get the defensive support from the skaters needed to match the offensive talent of Peoria.  The Rivermen, like their parent club the St. Louis Blues, struggled early in the season, but are making a strong comeback into playoff form, thanks in large part to excellent goaltending.  Ben Bishop is an amazing guy to watch, and one of the best goalies in the AHL.  For the Rivermen take on the game, head over to the Rivermen Blog, where my buddy Zack likes to chirp me.

Despite the loss last night, the Checkers remain at the top of their division with 62 points, and are second in the Western Conference.

 Norfolk Admirals (29-18-1-2) at Charlotte Checkers (29-17-2-2)

After a tough weekend of travel, the Checkers are at home tonight for one of only three games all month.  The ice is freshly returned to it’s previous splendor after being removed for the circus, and all should be right in the world with hockey back in Charlotte, for the day at least!

This is the Checkers sixth of eight games against Norfolk.  They lead the series 3-1-1, including a most-recent 4-2 victory on January 24 in Virginia.

Admirals starting goaltender Dustin Tokarski is 1-1 against Charlotte, but he’s also played the last two nights and may need a break from the crease.  If that’s the case, the Checkers could see Jaroslav Janus, who is 1-2 against Charlotte this year.  (For my goalie-taunting friends, it’s toh-KAHR-skee and YAHN-ihs).

Things you will see tonight:

  • A well-traveled Checkers team.  They played in Wisconsin on Friday, Illinois on Saturday, and traveled early today to make it home to Charlotte for this evening’s game.
  • A brand-new sheet of ice.  I’m sure it looks identical to the last one, but the Checkers ice is only removed once a year, and that happened earlier this month for the circus.
  • A really tough Norfolk team that is also completing a 3-in-3 weekend, however their home games and bus ride to Charlotte is probably nothing compared to the extensive bus rides and flights the Checkers endured!
  • Two of the best power play teams in the AHL.  Norfolk and Charlotte are neck-in-neck, ranked second and third overall, and have only a .1 percent difference.
  • Offensive prowess by Chris Terry and Jerome Samson.  Terry has seven assists in five games against Norfolk, and Samson has six points in four games (4G, 2A).  EDIT:  Samson was just recalled by the Hurricanes, and Drayson Bowman was returned to the Checkers.  
  • Fisticuffs on the part of Mike Angelidis.  A long-time foe of the Checkers, Angelidis has 26 PIM in four games against Charlotte this year.  Checkers tough guy has only 14 PIMs in five games against NOrfolk.
Things you probably won’t see tonight:
  • I didn’t know the Checkers had an “official” goal song, but they don’t anymore.  You won’t be hearing Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll, part 2″ ever again at a Checkers game (if you know about Glitter’s legal troubles and sordid past, you’ll understand.  If not, google it, but it’s not a pretty story!). I guess I didn’t realize “Rock & Roll, part 2″  was the “official” song since just about every sporting event plays the tune at some point, and it hardly seemed unique or official for the Checkers.  Regardless, the organization has decided to pick something new, and I for one have a list of suggestions already formulated in my mind.  But more on that later this week!
  • Mike Murphy is still not ready to return from an injury he received during warmups against Norfolk on January 24.  John Muse is expected to start in goal, and has won his last three starts.
  • A point streak by Bobby Sanguinetti. After 11-games of scoring at least a point, Sanguinetti’s streak ended last night in Peoria.  Of course, today is the perfect day to start a new one!

Gametime:  6:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte TV: TWCA channel 520
Norfolk Twitter: @NorfolkAdmirals@BeekerAdmirals
Officials:
Referees:   Steve Patafie (#85), Curtis Marouelli (#78)
Linesman: Ben Shiley (#21), Paul Carnathan (#93)

Shamless plug – Checkers gameday, with no actual gameday coverage…

No game preview today.  All I have to say is that if the Checkers are on their game, this could be an INCREDIBLY tough matchup between Charlotte and Oklahoma City, who leads the AHL with 41 points, and who’s current lineup includes hotshot Oilers prospect Magnus Paajarvi.

 

All of the pastors wore red. I'd like to say it was because they are huge Checkers fans, but I'm pretty sure it's really a liturgical thing. Regardless, I like the color a lot.

I spent the day yesterday (and finally left VERY early this morning so I could get to work on time!) celebrating with my family and friends as we witnessed my brother’s Ordination as a pastor.  Pretty proud of my little brother, and the next great adventure he’s about to go on, as he and his wife move to Madagasgar, Africa, where he will serve as a Pastor and Coordinator for the youth volunteer program of Lutheran Global Missions.  I’d say that’s a pretty good reason why I didn’t have time to research the Barons.

 

The most important thing about today?  Cheer loud, and support our great team.  Let’s Go Checkers!