First, a few administrative notes:
- Holy cow, Queen city! Could today have been a more beautiful day? Blue sky, warm weather, and I get to sit on my patio sipping a beer writing my post-game story while my 11-year old puppy Will Shakespeare rolls in the grass. Life is good.
- Every four years, February is my favorite month. I can feel, taste and smell (in my dreams, anyway) the Olympic ice. And I’m not just talking about hockey (USA USA USA!). Curling is possibly my favorite Olympic winter sport, and I am also a huge fan of short track speed skating. And Olympic ski jumping for women this year! It’s a first!!! I can’t wait for those events to begin.
And about the Olympics, do you want your very own Team USA themed hand knit hat? I designed a free pattern that replicates the hat our team wore in the opening ceremonies. You can download it here.
- Speaking of February, happy birthday to Chasing Checkers. According to my hosting site, it celebrated it’s anniversary this week. I can’t believe I’m going into my fourth year here. What a fun and wild ride it’s been.
A giveaway by Charlotte Checkers captain Brett Sutter in front of Mike Murphy resulted in an overtime defeat by the Oklahoma City Barons. They won the game 4-3 in another heated matchup between the two Western division rivals. The one point OT loss by the Checkers ended the team’s three game regulation losing streak.
The first period looked good with a nice goal from Justin Shugg that went over the Baron’s Richard Bachman’s blocker. The steep angle made it a nearly impossible shot to stop. Shugg, who has appeared pretty regularly on the scoresheet for Charlotte, made his first appearance in the goal column in six games. He now has six points (3g, 3a) in eight appearances against Oklahoma City.
Brendan Woods, who had family in attendance, had a stellar game. After missing nearly two weeks to an injury in January, this was his first goal in only his fourth game back. He nearly missed having a Gordie Howe hat trick after a fight with Baron’s tough guy Ben Eager. Woods ended the night with one goal, one fight, four shots and nine PIMs.
Forward lines were moved around, with Chris Terry moving off of the top-scoring line with Zach Boychuk.
Coach Jeff Daniels acknowledged the change was meant to shake things up a bit. “We were trying to get more balance and more scoring throughout our forward lines. I thought a couple lines were good and a couple were just okay.”
Brody Sutter scored with 37 seconds to go in the game, tying it at three a piece and leading the team to overtime. The excitement was short lived, as halfway through overtime, a costly giveaway by Brett Sutter led to a goal by the Baron’s Roman Horak.
With a bit of a grin, Woods acknowledged that having family in attendance added to his energy. With his dad an assistant coach in Anaheim, his mom and dad were both able to make it to this afternoon’s game. “It definitely gives you a little extra jump. I’m sure she was a little nervous with that fight against Ben Eager, but yeah, it was fun.”
The Checkers head into the (brief) All-Star break with a few days of rest after a tough travel schedule, and return on Friday for a couple of “home” games in Raleigh. They sit a few points out of a playoff spot, and divisional games will continue to be incredibly important, especially the two against Abbotsford next weekend, who sit atop the West division.