A few thoughts as the Charlotte Checkers end their regular season this weekend with back-to-back games against the Worcester Sharks.
First, regarding this past Monday’s game against Norfolk:
Bobby Goepfert came into the game in relief of Justin Pogge on Monday night. He had a great shift, stopping all 10 of the shots he faced in the final 12 minutes of the game, and some of the saves he made were pretty amazing. In my opinion, Pogge wasn’t THAT bad throughout the course of the game, but in typical Pogge fashion, he had given up in the third and was being lazy. This seems to be his thing… he has a mediocre performance, then just decides to quit and seems to even ask to get pulled. I’ve seen it happen all season, where he lets in a couple of goals, then after each goal, he glances over at the bench and looks at the coach requesting relief, or expecting to see the back-up netminder getting ready.
- Bobby Sanguinetti left the game with an apparent injury. He never left the bench to return to the training room, and came back in the third period, much to the relief of this blogger. We’ve already got too many injuries that make me nervous. Hopefully, Friday’s game will see the return of Michal Jordan and others.
- The officiating was the WORST I have seen this season. Zach Boychuck was mouthing off to one of the refs after his boarding call in the second, and after that, Ref #37, Jason Rollins, seemed to have it out for the Checkers. It was already a game with an “extra” official, so there were plenty of stripes on the ice to make calls, but he took it into his own hands to make calls that were out of his immediate area, even at opposite ends of the ice. Every time I looked at him, he was blowing his whistle for a call against the Checkers. It seemed to become personal with him. I don’t know if he has bad blood in Charlotte after his years and years of officiating in the ECHL, or had something else to prove, but so many of his calls seemed bogus. After Boychuck’s boarding call, the Checkers couldn’t stay out of the box, and were scored on three times, two of which were power play goals. Needless to say, it wasn’t a fun game to watch.
On the Checkers front:
- Following the game on Monday, Bobby Goepfert returned to Florida as the Everblades began their first round playoffs with a two-game homestand against the Kalamazoo Wings. The Everblades were 1-1 in the first two playoff games, and head to Kalamazoo for three games which will be held on Friday, Saturday and Monday.
- Mike Murphy has still not returned to practice, and unless the Checkers plan on dressing Jason Shaya for the final two home games, I would have to assume that Goepfert will come back to Charlotte regardless of the Everblades playoff needs. Goepfert is under contract with the Checkers, and technically is only “on loan” to Florida.
- I did a lot of reading on concussion protocols within the NHL/AHL, and what they mean regarding Murphy’s recovery. The NHL was the first major league to adopt the SCORE testing, and the other pro sports (NFL, NBA, etc) have adopted similar protocols as well. The players take the test at the beginning of the season (it’s computer given, and takes about 30 minutes from what I understand, asking a series of questions that test memory, etc.). This test is also available to student athletes of all ages so that parents can monitor the health and well being of their Children. The Pittsburgh Penguins announced they are partnering with their non-profit organization and UPMC Sports Medicine to offer the baseline testing to youth hockey players in Pittsburgh.
- It’s now been nearly three weeks since Murphy suffered a concussion vs. Wilkes-Barre, and I hope he is close to being able to play again. (And fingers are crossed he can ace his SCORE test when it’s presented to him, if it hasn’t been already!)
Looking ahead to Worcester:
- The Checkers record against Worcester is 1-1 this season, allowing only 3 goals against in the two games. Worcester is in a playoff battle right now of epic proportions. They are one point back, and one game ahead of the Connecticut Whale. Only one of these two teams will make the playoffs, as both are in pursuit of the final of eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The Sharks final two games are against the Checkers, and the Whale will face Bridgeport twice and Norfolk once this weekend. The Sharks will be fighting with a playoff like intensity this weekend, so I hope the Checkers are ready!
- Some interesting comparison stats between Worcester and Charlotte:
-Just to show how tough our own division is, Charlotte is third in the East Division, Worcester is fourth in the Atlantic Division. By comparison, Charlotte is seventh league-wide, while Worcester is 19th.
-Both teams share the same record in the last ten games, 5-4-0-1
-Each team has scored only four goals in the previous two meetings (Game scores were Charlotte 4-2 and Worcester 2-0)