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.

Hershey Bears go roar in Charlotte, defeat Checkers 5-3.

Tonight in Charlotte, the hometown Checkers lost by a score of 5-3 to the Hershey Bears, who had many many fans that traveled quite the distance from Pennsylvania to cheer on their team.

The first goal of the game was scored by Hershey’s Nathan Walker, who deflected a point shot from Tyson Strachman over Rick DiPietro’s glove.

The Checkers first powerplay included a number of offensive zone turnovers by Charlotte, zero scoring opportunities and no shots on goal.

And then the goals from Hershey started coming.  The second goal was the result of Rick DiPietro being out of position and the Bears Ryan Stoa was able to score on a virtually empty net.

Hershey’s third goal was scored by Casey Wellman, another high glove shot where a Checkers defenseman was nowhere in sight.

Finally, after Hershey had four goals, the Checkers got on the board with an unassisted power play goal from Michal Jordan.

A tripping call sent Rasmus Rissanen to the box during the second period.  It took Hershey less than a minute on the power play to score a fifth goal, this time from AHL journeyman Jeff Taffe.  The fifth goal was enough to pull DiPietro from the game in favor of John Muse, who sits atop the standings as the best goalie in the league.

Things appeared to turn around for Charlotte.  With the goaltending change, a fire was lit beneath them, and it didn’t take long for Adam Brace to score with an assist from Captain Brett Sutter.  This extended Brace’s point streak to five, the longest active point streak on the Checkers.

Coach Jeff Daniels felt the team did a lot of great things despite the final outcome.

“I thought we did a lot of great things tonight. We’ve just got to continue them tomorrow..  We did a lot of good things. We skated well,” Daniels continued, “The power play scored a couple goals…. We can’t change the outcome of the last four games, but we can change the outcome tomorrow night.”

Elias Lindholm was one of the bright spots for the Checkers.  In only his third game since being assigned to Charlotte from the Hurricanes, he scored his first AHL goal on the power play with 1:04 left in the game.

Lindholm felt good about his third game as a member of the Checkers. “I haven’t played too many games yet, but the speed is a little bit faster in the NHL.”

 

The Checkers face Hershey again tomorrow.  It’s a Thirsty Thursday game, and the beer will be flowing!

Random assorted observations:

  • Rick DiPietro is now 0-3 with the Checkers.  He has allowed 14 goals in just over 150 minutes of ice time.
  • Though DiPietro had a tough night between the pipes, many of the goals he allowed were at times when he had no support from Checkers defensemen.
  • Many many many giveaways by Charlotte in their offensive zone.
  • Allan, who’s  a regular contributor to Chasing Checkers observed that Allan York is 2-0 with a shutout since he was released from his PTO with Charlotte.
  • Rasmus Rissanen was a -4 on the night (and was responsible for the tripping penalty that led to a Bears power play goal).

Fluffy Filler:

  • Every time the Checkers play the Bears (which isn’t often, unfortunately), I’m reminded of Justin Pogge’s epic performance/temper tantrum in Hershey that got him thrown out of the game.  I believe the line from the Bears play by play announcer was something to the effect of, “Justin Pogge has LOST HIS MIND.”  I miss the days of characters like Mr. Pogge playing in Charlotte.  He was definitely entertaining!
  • Kudos to the Checkers for having a Hockey & Heels event.  I think it has the potential to be a great night for ladies new to the sport.  But please, please for the love of the hockey gods, fix the logo! It’s currently a FIGURE skate with a high heel on it.  Hockey & Heels lesson number one: Hockey skates don’t have toe picks!

Grrrr. Checkers get dumped 7-2 by the Iowa Wild.

I sat in front of my computer for a long time debating what to write about re: this afternoon’s Checkers game.  And to be honest, I’m taking the cop out route and going to summarize it very briefly.  It was hard to watch… seven goals allowed by the Checkers, a weak offensive effort, and questionable defending led to seven goals allowed by the Checkers (though, if Brody Sutter hadn’t received a relatively bogus call late in the game for alleged interference, I believe the score would have been 6-3, but oh well, a loss is a loss.)

Charlotte Checkers defenseman Michal Jordan skates with the puck down the ice in the team's 7-2 loss to the Iowa Wild. (Photo - J. Propst)

Charlotte Checkers defenseman Michal Jordan skates with the puck down the ice in the team’s 7-2 loss to the Iowa Wild. (Photo – J. Propst)

For the second night in a row, Charlotte’s special teams struggled. The powerplay was only able to convert on one of four attempts, and the penalty kill allowed two goals on seven opportunities by the Wild.

Brendan Woods took a brutal hit from Raphael Bussieres. It was ugly.  Woods was thrown face first into the glass at an awkward angle and had to be helped off the ice.  The five-minute boarding call Bussieres received hardly seems enough for what could be a very serious injury, and it will be interesting to see if anything further comes from the AHL.  The Checkers Manny Malhotra took matters into his own hands and received a number of penalties, including a 10-minute instigating misconduct, a two-minute instigating minor and a five-minute fighting major.

Coach Jeff Daniels could not pinpoint one particular downfall of the game. “It’s more about being pros. You’ve got to bring it every night. You can’t pick and choose when you want to play.”

I’m one of those crazy people who likes to find the good in things even when the score is 7-2, so here are a few things I noticed:

  • I liked the physicality of the Checkers. Brendan Woods, before he was boarded, was incredibly physical in his play.  Though the scrums didn’t amount to a result on the score sheet, seeing the players stand up for one another and keep the game physical was a definite positive (Matt Corrente, Nicolas Blanchard and Manny Malhotra all had fighting majors).  While I rarely focus on fighting in hockey, I think the scrums that did happen came at appropriate times and showed passion and grit from the home team.
  • Manny Malhotra is pretty amazing to watch. Unfortunately for us, I don’t think he’ll be in Charlotte for long, so enjoy it while you can, Checkers fans!  He’s a NHL player, and plays with great passion and integrity. Like Dan Ellis last season, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see him on Checkers home ice, and wish him the best in the NHL.
  • This is the only time Checkers fans have to see the Iowa Wild at home this season. After this weekend’s games, I’m okay with that fact.
  • It’s early in the season. This was only the Checkers fourth game, and there is plenty of time to make adjustments. It’s too early to panic about a poor showing in two home games.
  • Checkers Alternate captain Chris Terry scored one of only two goals for Charlotte. In four games played, he leads the team with four points (3g, 1a). (Photo - J. Propst)

    Checkers Alternate captain Chris Terry scored one of only two goals for Charlotte. In four games played, he leads the team with four points (3g, 1a). (Photo – J. Propst)

    From my off-the-ice perspective, Nic Blanchard is an incredible alternate captain. So is Chris Terry. Obviously, only those in the room really know what it takes though to lead the Checkers. With the team three weeks into the regular season, they are still without a full time captain. Any picks for a potential successor to the awesome Brett Sutter?

 

Completely unrelated to the game observations:

  • I know I saw the new seamless glass last weekend at the Checkers open house, but seriously people, it’s amazing. I am so grateful to an organization that puts as much as they do into the fan experience as the Checkers do.
  • THERE IS AN ORGAN! I’m such a sucker for history and sports culture, that hearing an organ at a hockey game made me grin from ear to ear. OK, it’s probably a keyboard, and I wish it was being played in a prominent location (and please, don’t let it be just sound effect.. but I’m pretty sure it was live!).  But it’s awesome.  In my own grad school studies I came across a guy who wrote a dissertation on the history of the hockey organ, and I was fascinated. I admit it, I’m a nerd.
  • The new Checkers jerseys… wow. I like them even more in action. I miss the Hurricane warning flags, but they home white sweaters look so sharp on the ice.  Way to go for a great new design! (And despite swearing off the purchase of any more jerseys, I might have to invest in one!)
  • Nathan Beasley can rock a bow tie like nobody’s business. And no, he didn’t pay me to say that.
  • I apologize for wearing brand new hand knit socks to the arena. I was so excited by their beautiful Checkers colored stripes that I hoped would be lucky, and they failed me. I promise not to wear them again, for fear of bad karma the yarn may hold in it.
  • I am going to try and do a better job of writing over here. I’ve got close to a million ideas, but I’ve written approximately 120 pages of academic papers in the past few months, with more to go, so finding time to write about hockey is often a challenge. The good news is, I graduate on DECEMBER 14, so freedom is coming (and an epic party after the fact!)

Zac Dalpe, Jeremy Welsh traded to Vancouver for Kellan Tochkin & draft pick

Not long after midnight, the Hurricanes announced that they had traded Jeremy Welsh and Zac Dalpe to the Vancouver Canucks for RW Kellan Tochkin and a fourth round pick.

Bob McKenzie tweeted the following:

Dalpe’s ability at center can serve Vancouver well, and Welsh should be familiar with the area, as Utica is a mere hour away from Schenectady, New York, where he attended college at Union.

Zac Dalpe was traded by the Carolina Hurricanes along with Jeremy Welsh to the Vancouver Canucks for Kellan Tolchkin and a fourth-round draft pic. (Photo - Jenni Propst)

Zac Dalpe was traded by the Carolina Hurricanes along with Jeremy Welsh to the Vancouver Canucks for Kellan Tolchkin and a fourth-round draft pic. (Photo – Jenni Propst)

Dalpe’s younger brother Ben, a frequent Checkers fan and Charlotte visitor, is currently playing for the Pencticton Vees before starting college at Clarkson next fall.  Penticton is in the Okanagan valley, and a short drive from Vancouver, which should serve the brothers well.

Tochkin is a native of Abbotsford, British Columbia.  He played five years in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, Medicine Hat Tigers and Prince Albert Raiders. One and a half of those seasons was spent with Rasmus Rissannen in Everett, who he is expected to join in Charlotte as a member of the Charlotte Checkers.  Last year, Tochkin played for the Missouri Mavericks, and was to begin the season with the Utica Comets.

As for the departures from the Hurricanes organization… both personally and professionally, I will miss Zac Dalpe a great deal. He is a character guy on and off the ice. He gave great post-game interviews, and played at 110% each and every night.  He was a huge asset to the organization, and will be missed.

I’d anticipate a formal release from the Checkers in the morning.  Until then, Let’s Go Checkers.