First of all, congratulations to Jerome Samson on his first NHL goal last night. His was the only goal of the night for Carolina, and he was the second star of the game! Nice work, Jerome!
Hershey Bears (21-8-4-3) at Charlotte Checkers (21-8-4-3)
- The last time the Checkers met their former division rival Bears was last April, when the two teams met in the first round of the Playoffs. The Checkers, who were in fact the underdogs, defeated the Bears in game six, with an overtime goal by the great Nicolas Blanchard.
The Bears lead the Eastern Conference with 49 points, and are second overall in the league. The Checkers are in fourth place overall with 45 points, and continue to lead the Midwest division.
- Stat-for-stat, the Checkers and Bears are very evenly matched, so tonight’s game should be exciting to watch, especially with the Bears wanting to prove something after the last loss they faced against the Checkers.
- Offensive dynamos might be a good word to describe the 2011-12 Bears. Keith Aucoin leads the team in points with 59 (that’s almost two points a game!). He’s got 8 goals, and an UNREAL 51 assists.
- Chris Bourque has the most goals with 20 (plus 34 assists, making his points total 54). Four of those goals were shorthanded, a state he leads the league in, so watch out Checkers!
- The Bears have the best Power Play in the AHL. Forward Graham Mink leads the team, and the league, with 11, and he’s only played in 26 games. Chris Bourque is second on the team in PPG with 9.
- The Bears are also third in the AHL on the Penalty Kill (though, for the record, Charlotte isn’t far behind in sixth.)
- Tonight marks former Checker Jacob Micflikier’s first return to Charlotte since last season. He has 38 points so far this year (13G, 25A).
- Joel Rechlicz, a Hershey RW who leads the LEAGUE in PIM with 167, was suspended by the AHL for one game after fighting a guy that was sitting on the bench. He currently has two points on the season (1G, 1A).
- Hershey’s starting goaltender will be familiar to Checkers fans. Braden Holtby faced Charlotte in the playoffs last year, and put up fantastic numbers. He continues to have a great season. In 22 games this year, he’s 12-8-0-2 (2.64 GAA and .903 SV%).
By comparison, Mike Murphy, who started in the final games of the first round of the Checkers playoff series last year and in turn beat Holtby, has equally stellar numbers. In 24 games, he’s 13-9-0 (2.56 GAA and .923 SV%).
- Riley Nash was cleared for contact this morning, and resumed full practice with the team. However, he will not play tonight, leaving the Checkers with only 11 forwards.
- Matt Beca has been recalled from Florida for tonight’s game.
- Justin Shugg, Mathieu Roy and Chris Durno remain sidelined with injuries, while Justin Peters, Brett Sutter and Jerome Samson are currently with the Hurricanes. Jared Staal did not participate in the morning skate, and is questionable for tonight’s game.
- Stay tuned for post-game commentary and analysis from Allan!
Gametime: 7:00 p.m. EST