Checkers return home after a flight-filled weekend in the Midwest. Gameday: Norfolk at Charlotte

Well, the roadtrip part of the Checkers 3-in-3 weekend is over.  Yours truly spent the weekend with models and ballerinas (I lead a glamorous life, people!) which left very little time to watch hockey, which would have been preferable, honestly.  But North Carolina Dance Theater put on a fantastic event with some incredible dancing, and I’m proud to have taken part in it.

Chris Terry battles for the puck with Kyle Wilson. (Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Admirals)

The Checkers traveled to Wisconsin and Illinois this weekend to take on two division rivals.  They won on Friday 2-1 in overtime with a goal by Zac Dalpe, but since I missed the game, I suggest you head over to the Admirals Roundtable for their take on the event.  I will say, it was the Ads 10th-straight loss to a division opponent.  Yikes.

Last night was a not-so-pretty game by the Checkers.  They lost

Dave Caruso stopped 42 of 47 shots in his Checkers debut. (Photo: Scott Neer @TSNPhotography / Peoria Rivermen)

to division rivals by a score of 5-2. I caught bits and pieces of it, muted, on AHL Live while at work.  The Checkers allowed a season-high 47 shots on goal in newcomer goalie Dave Caruso’s first start for Charlotte.  He made 42 saves, which is impressive, but clearly didn’t get the defensive support from the skaters needed to match the offensive talent of Peoria.  The Rivermen, like their parent club the St. Louis Blues, struggled early in the season, but are making a strong comeback into playoff form, thanks in large part to excellent goaltending.  Ben Bishop is an amazing guy to watch, and one of the best goalies in the AHL.  For the Rivermen take on the game, head over to the Rivermen Blog, where my buddy Zack likes to chirp me.

Despite the loss last night, the Checkers remain at the top of their division with 62 points, and are second in the Western Conference.

 Norfolk Admirals (29-18-1-2) at Charlotte Checkers (29-17-2-2)

After a tough weekend of travel, the Checkers are at home tonight for one of only three games all month.  The ice is freshly returned to it’s previous splendor after being removed for the circus, and all should be right in the world with hockey back in Charlotte, for the day at least!

This is the Checkers sixth of eight games against Norfolk.  They lead the series 3-1-1, including a most-recent 4-2 victory on January 24 in Virginia.

Admirals starting goaltender Dustin Tokarski is 1-1 against Charlotte, but he’s also played the last two nights and may need a break from the crease.  If that’s the case, the Checkers could see Jaroslav Janus, who is 1-2 against Charlotte this year.  (For my goalie-taunting friends, it’s toh-KAHR-skee and YAHN-ihs).

Things you will see tonight:

  • A well-traveled Checkers team.  They played in Wisconsin on Friday, Illinois on Saturday, and traveled early today to make it home to Charlotte for this evening’s game.
  • A brand-new sheet of ice.  I’m sure it looks identical to the last one, but the Checkers ice is only removed once a year, and that happened earlier this month for the circus.
  • A really tough Norfolk team that is also completing a 3-in-3 weekend, however their home games and bus ride to Charlotte is probably nothing compared to the extensive bus rides and flights the Checkers endured!
  • Two of the best power play teams in the AHL.  Norfolk and Charlotte are neck-in-neck, ranked second and third overall, and have only a .1 percent difference.
  • Offensive prowess by Chris Terry and Jerome Samson.  Terry has seven assists in five games against Norfolk, and Samson has six points in four games (4G, 2A).  EDIT:  Samson was just recalled by the Hurricanes, and Drayson Bowman was returned to the Checkers.  
  • Fisticuffs on the part of Mike Angelidis.  A long-time foe of the Checkers, Angelidis has 26 PIM in four games against Charlotte this year.  Checkers tough guy has only 14 PIMs in five games against NOrfolk.
Things you probably won’t see tonight:
  • I didn’t know the Checkers had an “official” goal song, but they don’t anymore.  You won’t be hearing Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll, part 2” ever again at a Checkers game (if you know about Glitter’s legal troubles and sordid past, you’ll understand.  If not, google it, but it’s not a pretty story!). I guess I didn’t realize “Rock & Roll, part 2”  was the “official” song since just about every sporting event plays the tune at some point, and it hardly seemed unique or official for the Checkers.  Regardless, the organization has decided to pick something new, and I for one have a list of suggestions already formulated in my mind.  But more on that later this week!
  • Mike Murphy is still not ready to return from an injury he received during warmups against Norfolk on January 24.  John Muse is expected to start in goal, and has won his last three starts.
  • A point streak by Bobby Sanguinetti. After 11-games of scoring at least a point, Sanguinetti’s streak ended last night in Peoria.  Of course, today is the perfect day to start a new one!

Gametime:  6:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte TV: TWCA channel 520
Norfolk Twitter: @NorfolkAdmirals@BeekerAdmirals
Referees:   Steve Patafie (#85), Curtis Marouelli (#78)
Linesman: Ben Shiley (#21), Paul Carnathan (#93)

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