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.

Another post full of pictures about the Charlotte Checkers and their 4-2 victory over Norfolk on Friday

Hi, and welcome to another post at Chasing Checkers  where there is more photographic  content than actual writing. Maybe I’ve finally rediscovered the love I have for my camera. Maybe it’s because I realized I barely shot anything last year, and still have a number of games worth of photos that have never been edited or taken off of my flash card. Either way, it’s been fun to watch the game through a lens this week.

I only shot about half of one period of hockey yesterday. The Extreme Ice Center is a tough place to watch a game…. it doesn’t have the best sight lines, and the fluorescent lighting is always tricky for me to color balance. Oh, and then there’s the fact it’s a practice facility with scuffed glass and no photo portholes.  I got a few interesting photos though. I like that many of them tell a story. So here you go… a game story through pictures!

Zach Boychuk scored one in the Checkers 4-2 win over Norfolk on Friday in Indian Trail. (Photo - J. Propst)

Zach Boychuk scored one in the Checkers 4-2 win over Norfolk on Friday in Indian Trail. (Photo – J. Propst)

This is Zach Boychuk. I like this photo for a lot of artistic reasons, and the fact he looks grown up. Still an incredibly young man of 23 (for the next week, anyway!), he’s matured a lot over the years in Charlotte.  It took him most of the summer to negotiate his RFA contract with the Hurricanes, and he ended up with a one year, two-way deal. He has the offensive skill to be a great forward at the NHL level, but after a rough season last year that saw him play for three different NHL teams, he has a lot to prove. I know what he can do for the Checkers, and what an asset he can be, he just has to show that day in and day out to his team and organization.  It should be interesting to watch.

Zack Stortini of the Norfolk Admirals. (Photo - J. Propst)

Zack Stortini of the Norfolk Admirals. (Photo – J. Propst)

Zack Stortini is a guy who I’ve followed for a long time. I actually didn’t know he was playing in Norfolk this year, and am looking forward to seeing him more than his #Norfolking Admiral team.  The first year I really followed hockey, it was almost exclusively via the radio, the year the Hamilton Bulldogs most recently won the Calder Cup. Stortini was a part of that squad, and just like he is now, was kind of a smack talking enforcer. At the first NHL game I ever attended in Nashville, I ran into him in a bar downtown, and didn’t have a clue who he was (remember? I followed him on the radio! no pictures!).  I assumed he was a hockey player (his teeth, or lack of them, gave t away) but mostly he was just a nice guy having a beer after a game.   Stortini’s a bit of a goon and definitely caused some troubles for the Checkers, but he was fun to watch. For once, the game yesterday at the Extreme Ice Center was quiet. It was a small crowd, a tiny room compared to that of an arena, and there wasn’t annoying music blaring every time there was a stop in play. I could hear the game. I could hear the heckling of the refs from the stands, and the chirps the players said to each other, and the goalies talking to their teammates.  It was pretty great! I liked hearing Zack run his mouth, and the Checkers run theirs in return. I wish there were more music-less games!

IMG_0395sm

Max Friberg skates for the Norfolk Admirals, with Austin Levi of the Charlotte Checkers in close pursuit. (Photo – J. Propst)

Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about the Norfolk Admirals team. This is Max Friberg, who took a puck off the leg early in the game and limped off in a lot of pain, but returned to action and appeared pretty unscathed.  I know that at 5’11, Mr. Friberg is one of the bigger players on his team, save the goalie, because at 6’4 and 250 pounds, Frederik Anderson is HUGE.  According to the roster I have for the Admirals from yesterday, they had six players who were 5’9 and under. Which is kind of cool, really. My favorite Charlotte Hornet was Muggsy Bogues, and any long-time Charlottean can tell you what that guy could do with a basketball despite being 5’3.

Aaron Palushaj skates for the Charlotte Checkers. (Photo - J. Propst)

Aaron Palushaj skates for the Charlotte Checkers. (Photo – J. Propst)

From an artistic standpoint, I love this photo. I love the contrast of the skater in the foreground, and the way the depth of field blurs his teammates just a bitin the background, but how easy it is to tell they are in tune with him, watching him as he skates with the puck towards the net.  This photo makes me love my 70-200 mm/f2.8 lens even more than I already did!  I’m pretty sure this is Aaron Palushaj. If I’m wrong, well, I’ll post a retraction immediately! Lack of sleeve numbers and so many new faces decreases my confidence level! Aaron had a phenomenal debut for the Checkers yesterday. He scored two goals, was incredibly physical, and was a part of an incredible line alongside Zach Boychuk and Victor Rask. If Coach Daniels keeps these three together, they will be a force to be reckoned with.  While the lines seemed to change a bit as the game went on, this line stuck together for three periods of hockey.

Matt Marquadt is quickly becoming one of my favorite Checkers with his physical, offensive play. (Photo- J. Propst)

Matt Marquadt is quickly becoming one of my favorite Checkers with his physical, offensive play. (Photo- J. Propst)

Matt Marquadt was a mid season addition to the Checkers last year, and I’m incredibly hopeful he makes the final squad at the end of camp this fall.  He’s gritty, and has no problem using his size down in front of the crease.

Other notes and observations:

  • The two fights involved Brendan Woods and Stefan Della Rose. Both are bubble players in the sense that they are among a long list of guys not guaranteed a spot in Charlotte. They can certainly play, but so can 15 other guys! Toughness is something the Checkers have lacked at times, so seeing two so willing to stand up for their teammates was a nice change.
  • Speaking of Woods, his dad is an assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks, the parent club of the Norfolk Admirals. I wonder how he’d feel knowing his son dropped the gloves against some of his prospects? As a Checkers fan, it made me proud!
  • If these pictures weren’t enough, here’s a link to my personal photos.
  • I think there was more heckling of the official, Jason Rollins, than there was of the entire #NorfolkingAdmirals team. Is there a more disliked guy by Charlotte Checkers fans?  He did miss some pretty blatant calls, like a high stick to Rasmus Rissanen’s mouth late in the third period.
  • Though many NHL teams have already made their AHL assignments to be compliant with the 23-man roster limit, as of the posting of this article, the Hurricanes have not assigned anyone else to the AHL (or, put them on waivers, as the case may be).  There are 16 forwards, nine forwards and 2 goaltenders in Raleigh.  They must send four players to the AHL or back to their junior team to remain compliant with NHL rules.  The only way around this would be to place players in Injured Reserved, and according to multiple sources, there are a handful of guys who may have significant injuries.
  • Currently, the Hurricanes have the following players who spent the majority of last season with the Checkers: Brett Bellemore, Zac Dalpe, Brett Sutter, Chris Terry, Riley Nash and Jeremy Welsh.  Additionally, Matt Corrente and Ryan Murphy have been rumored as potential Charlotte Checker additions.  It’s safe to say that three or four of the names mentioned will be in Charlotte in the coming days (waivers permitting, of course! All but Welsh and Murphy must clear waivers to be assigned to the AHL).

Charlotte Checkers training camp update: Day four in pictures

First, some photos from camp today.

Matt Marquart (and his hair) score on Charlotte Checkers goaltender extraordinaire Mike Murphy. (Photo - J. Propst)

Matt Marquart (and his hair) score on Charlotte Checkers goaltender extraordinaire Mike Murphy. (Photo – J. Propst)

Beau Schmitz participates in Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo - J. Propst)

Beau Schmitz participates in Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo – J. Propst)

Stefan Della Rovere, Beau Schmitz, Mark Flood and Jesse Deckert participate in a Charlotte Checkers training camp drill.  (Photo - J. Propst)

Stefan Della Rovere, Beau Schmitz, Austin Levi and Jesse Deckert participate in a Charlotte Checkers training camp drill. (Photo – J. Propst)

Adam Brace, signed to an AHL contract over the summer, participates in his first Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo - J. Propst)

Adam Brace, signed to an AHL contract over the summer, participates in his first Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo – J. Propst)

Brodry Sutter, who served as the captain of the Hurricanes at the Traverse City tournament, participates in a drill at Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo - J. Propst)

Brodry Sutter, who served as the captain of the Hurricanes at the Traverse City tournament, participates in a drill at Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo – J. Propst)

A few training camp thoughts and observations: 

  • Currently, there are 7 defensemen, three goalies and 13 forwards participating in training camp, including Stefan Della Rovere, who is still unsigned.
  • In Raleigh, the following players are considered to be “on the bubble” as far as making the Hurricanes roster:  Brett Bellemore, Ryan Murphy and Matt Corrente at defense, and Chris Terry, Zac Dalpe, Jeremy Welsh, Brett Sutter, Riley Nash and Nathan Gerbe.  What does that mean for Charlotte?  Well, two of the defenseman and probably three or four of the forwards will probably end up in Charlotte depending on waivers.  All but Welsh will have to clear waivers to be assigned.
  • The Hurricanes cuts could happen as early as Friday night, following the Hurricanes final preseason game in Raleigh.
  • So who makes the Checkers team after camp?  It’s still too early to tell, though many have asked for my opinion. I’ll just say this… I’d guess one goalie, two defensemen and three forwards get sent to the Florida Everblades, but I’m not sure who the skaters will be quite yet.
  • Jason Shaya was on the Powerplay Post Show today, the only AHL-only radio show.  It’s an internet-based show, and you can listen to Bob Howard’s interview of the great Checkers broadcaster here.
  • Sorry on the delay on posting this! Real life tends to interrupt, and in this case, it was a visit to the always awesome US National Whitewater Center for their Thursday night Riverjam.

Charlotte Checkers Training Camp in photos: Day 1

Just a few shots from the first day of AHL training camp at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail:

Danny Biega and Kyle Bonis participate in a drill at Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo - J. Propst)

Danny Biega and Kyle Bonis participate in a drill at Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo – J. Propst)

Victor Rask at Charlotte Checkers training camp.  (Photo credit - J. Propst)

Victor Rask at Charlotte Checkers training camp. (Photo credit – J. Propst)

Rookie forward Kyle Bonis. (Photo - J. Propst)

 

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Defenseman Austin Levi (Photo credit: J. Propst)

Charlotte Checkers coach Jeff McDaniels looks on during training camp. (Photo - J. Propst)

Charlotte Checkers coach Jeff McDaniels looks on during training camp. (Photo – J. Propst)

 

Sean Dolan returns for his third season with the Checkers. (Photo - J. Propst)

Sean Dolan returns for his third season with the Checkers. (Photo – J. Propst)

 

Stefan Della Rovere joins the Checkers after a stint with the Blues organization. (Photo - J. Propst)

Stefan Della Rovere joins the Checkers after a stint with the Blues organization. (Photo – J. Propst)