Gameday: Charlotte at Grand Rapids

 Charlotte Checkers (33-24-3-6) at Grand Rapids (30-26-6-4)

  • Tonight marks Charlotte fourth and final game against the Griffins.  The Checkers have swept the Griffins thus far, leading the series 3-0.
  • Goaltender Joey McDonald took all three losses for the Griffins, but is currently with the Detroit Red Wings.
  • Mike Murphy has two wins against Grand Rapids, and Justin Peters has one.
  • Chris Terry leads the Checkers in points overall with 53 (13g, 40a), and leads the team against the Griffins with three goals in three games played.
  • Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti is second in points for Charlotte with 42 (9g, 33a) in only 54 games played.  He has three points against the Griffins (1g, 2a).
  • Centerman Jamie Johnson leads the Griffins with 53 points (20g, 33a).  In three games against Charlotte, he has one assist.
  • Right wing Chris Connor has 47 points (16g, 31a) for Grand Rapids.  In three games against Charlotte, he has two assists.
  • Grand Rapids is a town not far from Kalamazoo, where Belle’s brews one of my favorite summer beers, Oberon.  It’s being released this weekend, and I’d love a taste of it, so if the team wants to bring a case home with the equipment, I’d be grateful.  (I know, wishful thinking… )

Injuries, call ups, and otherwise MIA players

  • Joey McDonald was recalled by Detroit on February 3.  Soon after he began his stint with the Red Wings, he was able to claim the back up spot from Ty Conklin, who was sent down to the Griffins for a time, but has sense returned to Detroit as well.  The past couple of months has been a revolving door of goaltenders in Grand Rapids, with PTO signings and alternating starters.
  • Nicolas Blanchard is out for a few weeks after a nasty hit during last weekend’s game in Hershey.  Hopefully, he will be able to return for the playoff run in April.
  • Justin Krueger, who has been sidelined with a broken hand since February 19, may return to the Checkers lineup.
  • Drayson Boyman is still playing for the Hurricanes.  He is eligible to play for the Checkers in the post-season due to clear day rules.

Playoff Perspective:

  • The Checkers have nine more games this season, and each point they can take from their opponents will be crucial.
  • If the playoffs started today, they’d face Oklahoma City, a team the Checkers have found success against during the regular season, but all bets are off once the playoffs begin.
  • After games last night, the Checkers currently sit in eighth place in the West.  The good news is of those eight teams currently “IN” the playoffs, they’ve played the least games, with 66.  Most other teams have played between 69-69, with Lake Erie having played 70 already.  These four games back that the Checkers are to teams like the Monsters will be crucial must-win games to guarantee a playoff spot.
  • As of this morning, only three points separate positions four through 10 in the West.  Yikes.  Each and every point will be needed, and the “loser” shootout/OT points may make or break a team trying to get into the post season.

Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Grand Rapids Twitter: @griffinshockey@michaelzuidema

Personal stuff that has little at all to do with the Checkers, the playoffs, or anyone else:

  • Things on the Chasing Checkers front have been at a bit of a standstill, and I blame the evil, horrible job for that (except that it’s neither evil nor horrible, just exhausting!).  Special thanks to associate writers Tess, Hayley and Allen for jumping in whenever possible and adding great content!
  • I worked 50 hours in three days last weekend, and probably have been averaging 80-90 hours a week during March.  The GOOD NEWS IS the crazy time of the performing arts biz is winding down.
  • I’ve arranged to take a long weekend off in April and follow the Checkers around the Midwest division to Peoria, Rockford and Milwaukee, meeting my personal goal of seeing the team play in each of their Midwest division rival towns.  I even have a photographer traveling with me, so there should be some great pictures to document the trip and the games.
  • Did you see the Hunger Games???  I did!  My name didn’t make it into the credits, but there were a plethora of scenes I worked on that made the final cut.  Go see this film.  It’s fantastic, and a great show of what the great state of North Carolina can provide to the movies!
  • If you haven’t bought season tickets for next year, DO IT!  I doubled my personal investment with the team by upgrading my seats to the Terrace Tables, and can’t WAIT to watch games from what I think is the best view in TWCA.
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