During the post-game media scrum, Zac Dalpe was looking on as a group of reporters gathered around his good friend and teammate Zach Boychuk, and you could tell Dalpe was just itching to be able to participate in some way. I offered my iPhone (which I record the interviews with) to Zac so he could at least ask some questions since he’s still not playing, and he just grinned.
Boychuk, with a huge grin on his face in response to Dalpe’s creeping into the media scrum from the sidelines, had this to say. “I think he wants to get in here, and get out there on the ice, and play together maybe.”
You can tell that Dalpe’s ready to be back, which is great news for the entire Hurricanes organization.
Even better news for Checkers fans is that with an incredibly shortened bench as far as the regular, more veteran Checkers, the team has found a way to win again, and are beginning to return to their successful special teams again.
Tonight saw birthday boy Beau Schmitz rack up two more points (1g, 1a), bringing his total over the past seven games of his most recall to five points (3g, 2a).
In his fifth game with Charlotte, Casey Pierro-Zabotel registered his first AHL goal. There’s nothing quite like seeing a player who’s worked so hard to get to this level see the results of his effort in the form of a goal on the scoresheet, especially one that ended up being the game winner.
In his first game played IN Charlotte since December 21, Zach Boychuk registered a goal, a beautiful shot that went over Norfolk goaltender Frederik Andersen’s glove hand. This is Boychuk’s second goal in as many games since being returned to the Checkers after a crazy month that due to waiver claims, saw him play for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, and now Charlotte again.
“It’s nice to come to a team and play lots of minutes and improve and get better,” said Boychuk, “ And those guys in the locker room there have been really good friends for a long time, and I’m really happy to be back with them.
The biggest story of the night was probably the play of goaltender Rob Madore. In his second straight start (and third appearance) with the Checkers, he faced 38 shots, turning all but one of them away, and was named the first star of the game for his outstanding performance. After almost a month of watching games from the bench, his play the past three games has given him and the players in front of him a great deal of confidence about his ability.
Jeff Daniels had only positive things to say about Madore’s performance.
“He competes so hard. He doesn’t quit on any shot and gets upset when any puck gets past him. “
I believe a win like tonight’s can carry the team through the week, and to the back-to-back games against the San Antonio Rampage this weekend. The four points on the line will be crucial as the regular season is nearly over.
Let’s Go Checkers!
- Though the team is finally finding a way to win again after some struggles that can be credited to losing three goaltenders to Raleigh over the past two months, and an injured list that still boasts 11 skaters, though a few are close to returning. Zac Dalpe, AJ Jenks, Justin Shugg, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Jerome Samson have all been taking part in full practices, and should see a game soon.
- The win against Norfolk moved the Checkers from fourth to second in the west, though if the playoffs started today, they’d still be a fourth seed, facing at this moment, the Houston Aeros.
- Attending a game with family is so much fun. Two nephews, a niece, two brothers and two sisters-in-law all joined me, and it was great fun! As the only member of my family in Charlotte, it’s a rare treat to get to share the team with them!
- Thank goodness for spellcheck, or I would have had a sentence in this post about “Goat tending” which would bring a whole new idea to the sport of ice hockey.
- For all of you who read my silly goaltending post yesterday and complimented me on it, whether in comments, tweets, facebook messages or in person, I thank you. My favorite posts are the ones that make people laugh, and it means a lot when I get feedback that what I’m trying to do is working!