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

First, a few administrative notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Odds and ends:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Odds and Ends:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other assorted notes that don’t fit anywhere else:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

Quick hits:

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

Charlotte Checkers defeat Norfolk at home, extend winning streak to season-long three games

Zach Boychuk scored in the first period to put the Charlotte Checkers up 2-0. (Photo - J. Propst)

Zach Boychuk scored in the first period to put the Charlotte Checkers up 2-0. (Photo – J. Propst)

A win is a win, and that is what the Charlotte Checkers can take away from their game tonight. A goal by Aaron Palushaj in the final moments of overtime led his team to a 4-3 victory over the Norfolk Admirals.

Goals by Beau Schmitz and Zach Boychuk had the Checkers up by 2-0 after the first period, but the Admirals came back with a vengeance in the second, scoring two goals less than a minute a part halfway through the period.

Though the team was able to improve their number in the win column, coach and players recognized that a better effort will need to be made to continue the current streak.

Coach Jeff Daniels was pleased with the result, but knows there is still work to be done, “We’ve got to keep working and be better than we were tonight. A win is a win, and obviously we need them, but we need to play smarter.”

Charlotte’s special teams had a very good night.  The power play scored on their first opportunity, the PK had two successful penalty kills, and the four-on-four of overtime was successful.

Emerson Etem's game tying goal for the Norfolk Admiralsled to his team facing the Charlotte Checkers in overtime. (Photo - J. Propst)

Emerson Etem’s game tying goal for the Norfolk Admiralsled to his team facing the Charlotte Checkers in overtime. (Photo – J. Propst)

Aaron Palushaj, the night’s first star, spoke of the hard work needed this week to continue gaining momentum, especially when they face the same Admirals team on Thursday. “We’ve got to go out and have a hard week of practice. We have to go out with a little bit of a better effort and play for a full 60 minutes.”

Brett Sutter, who spoke to the media after the game sporting a few fresh stitches in his upper lip thanks to the butt end of an Admirals stick in the final seconds of the first, said confidence had a lot to play in the team’s recent performance. “We weren’t our best tonight, but it felt good to pull one out.”  He continued about the team’s recent winning ways helping the atmosphere on the team. “It’s night and day. Before we were trying to find reasons to have fun in the rink, and we get to have fun, work hard, and that’s the enjoyable part of hockey.”

 

And now, for some notes that don’t fit anywhere else, the Checkers Fun Facts edition:

  • The Checkers have struggled more in the second period than any other this season.  After tonight’s game, they have scored only 19 goals, while allowing 26 during the middle period of play.
  • The Anaheim Ducks, who are one of the top teams in the NHL, are overrun with goaltending talent. Their newest prospect, 2011 draft pick John Gibson, is one of the most impressive.  He’s Pittsburgh born, and won the gold medal for team USA at the 2013 World Juniors, AND the Bronze medal at the 2013 IIHF World Championship last summer as a 19 year old. Gibson is on a lot of radars as the next great American goaltender, following in the footsteps of guys like Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick.
  • The Checkers current three-game winning streak is their first of the season. The last time the team won three games in a row was February of last season, when they won three between February 10-16.  Their last HOME winning streak dates back to November, 2011, when the Checkers won five in a row, including four at home.
  • Since successfully defending my Master’s thesis on December 2, the Checkers have gone 4-1, improving their current home stand record to 5-2. (Shameless self promotion!!!! But after finishing graduate school, I’ve earned the right to brag!)
  • Norfolk’s Emerson Etem, who was the third star of the game, started this season with the Ducks, and has some of the Olympics in his blood.  California native Etem’s mom competed in the 1984 Olympic games in rowing. His brother and sister also rowed in prestigious NCAA programs. Etem took the frozen road, though, and played competitive hockey in sunny SoCal and has a promising NHL career ahead of him.

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.

Charlotte Checkers – seven times the thanks (in honor of a 7-game losing streak)

OK, so the Checkers have lost seven games in a row. It sucks a lot. And sometimes it’s really hard to cheer for a losing team. But this team is more than a win loss percentage, and statistics on the score sheet. They are a huge part of my city, and have invested themselves in the community. For this, I’m so grateful, and proud to support this team, win or lose.

So to counter the on-ice ick (that’s a technical term) I’m going to list seven things to be thankful about regarding the Charlotte Checkers.

In no particular order:
1.  The amazing Charlotte Checkers Charitable Foundation, and the community outreach that the team engages in.  The Checkers gave nearly half a MILLION dollars last year in money and in-kind donations to local Charlotte charities and individuals.  According to this press release, the team has given over $2.7 MILLION dollars to the Charlotte Community since Michael Kahn purchased the team in 2006.  If that’s not something to be thankful for, I don’t know what is!

2.  Charlotte has become a site for veteran players to get a second chance, and that’s incredible. Not only is it great for the players, but we get to see NHL superstars on the ice. It’s pretty fantastic. We are privileged to have had the names of Dan Ellis, Manny Malhotra and Rick DiPietro grace the Checkers rosters over the past two seasons.

 

3.  Not only do the Checkers give money to the community, they give themselves.  This summer, the front office staff volunteered over 1000 hours to LOCAL Charlotte organizations. That’s pretty great. I appreciate that the Checkers focus their charitable impact on the local community.

 

4.  The Checkers were the first professional team in North Carolina to take the “You Can Play” pledge. And I am SO PROUD of them for that. Way to go Checkers for standing up for what is right! (I wish the team would do an updated video for this season! We saw it only once or twice during the playoffs last season. Heck, show the old video. Just because guys like Justin Krueger are no longer on the team doesn’t mean it isn’t still relevant!)

 

5.  While the current team is struggling a bit in the win column, so many fantastic players have been developed through the Checkers and Hurricanes AHL organization.  Drayson Bowman, Justin Peters, Riley Nash, Chris Terry, Brett Bellemore all spent their AHL years developing in Charlotte (and Albany, before), and are now integral players on the Carolina Hurricanes roster.  Others have gone on to the KHL and other elite European leagues. Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh are both playing for the Vancouver Canucks, and former Checker Mike McKenzie is an assistant coach for the Kitchener Rangers, one of the most successful teams in the OHL.  I’d say we have a pretty great thing going in Charlotte!

 

6.  How fan-first the entire organization is. Do you need some examples of that?  How about the following (OK, so I had more than seven thankful things, so I’m going to combine a few so I can stick to 7!):

  • Seamless glass.  I bet we can count on one hand how many AHL teams have invested in NHL caliber seamless glass. And it is AMAZING. Every time I’m in the arena I grin just looking at it. It really is that incredible.
  • I know how much mascots mean to families and kids, so I think it’s pretty cool that Chubby has a nephew now. Two mascots equals twice the fun for the kids in the stands!
  • How approachable and awesome the front office staff is! The team has an amazing ticket sales staff, public relations and a fun, approachable COO are all signs of a fan-first, top notch organization. The team is full of people I consider my friends, and can’t think of another organization I feel this way about.

7.  The team’s commitment to Charlotte hockey history. Sure, the team colors and logos have changed and evolved over the years, but they are still the Checkers, a team that has been in our city since 1960 (though, I’d consider the Clippers teams from 1956-1960 to be part of the Checkers history, too!).   Over the summer, when the team adopted new, updated jerseys to reflect that of the new Hurricanes sweaters, the Checkers kept important elements of their own identity. They kept design elements that were important to the Checkers, like the black stripe and silver accents in the logo. I appreciate this. I also love the twitter and facebook posts with photos from the rich history of hockey in Charlotte.