Checkers score a touchdown against Chicago, defeat Wolves 6-5.

Early on in tonight’s matchup, it would have been easy to count the Checkers out. They had allowed the first two shots of the game, and were down 2-0 only 1:40 into the contest. The home team rallied, again and again, and after yo-yoing between being a goal behind and tied, they finally took the lead with 6:31 to go in the game with an even strength goal by Zach Boychuk.

Coach Morris recognized the team’s ability to bounce back.

“We showed some resilience, and I thought that it looked pretty dire at the start of the game,” Morris continued, “Guys just stuck with it, so, we’ll take it. They’re not all gonna be pretty. And hopefully we learned some things along the way.”

Four power play goals led to the Checkers victory at home against Chicago.

Drew MacIntyre made his first appearance for the Checkers since December 15. He was injured over the Christmas break while playing for Team Canada at the Spengler Cup in Switzerland. Having missed the past month of Checkers play, it was no surprise he was a bit shaky on the start, but his teammates rallied around him to score six goals and win the game.

Coach Morris was complimentary of MacIntyre’s play despite the shaky start.

“He had a rough outing. That’s not the typical Mac game. He’s coming off an injury…. So we’ve got to cut him some slack. He made some big saves.” Morris continued, “It’s not an easy position to play, especially when you’ve been out so long.”

The Checkers are in a tight race for the playoffs, in a tough central division. The Wolves, who are division rivals, are lower in the standings but still a crucial matchup.

Brendan Woods, who was the game’s first star with two goals, recognized the importance of a strong showing against the Chicago Wolves.

“We have a board up in our room. Right when you walk in you see it,” Woods continued, “It’s really tight when you look at the standings. You can’t take any nights off with the division we have. It’s all really close, so any chance you have with a team coming in your building, in your division, it’s huge.”

Coach Morris also commented on the importance of a strong showing against division rival Chicago.

“They have no problem scoring goals against us. I thought we’d need a touchdown after the first two shots.”

The Checkers sit solidly in a playoff spot, but with over a third of the season to play, the team must continue to win games and pick up points in the standings. Since December 9, they’ve shown they know how to win.

After a 12 game point streak that took them through most of December and into January, and have points again in the past five starts.


AHL Realignment and the Charlotte Checkers, Part V.

In their fifth major realignment related move in their six seasons in Charlotte, the Checkers will be joining the brand-new Central Division of the western conference for the 2015-16 season.

The American Hockey League is changing from a six-division league to a four-division league that mimics the National Hockey League. The Checkers Central Division rivals include the Milwaukee Admirals, Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Wolves (from their 2011-12 season in the Midwest Division), the Iowa Wild (from the past two seasons in the West Division. The Grand Rapids Griffins, who has been a part of the Midwest Division since the Checkers vacated, also join the Central Division, along with the Lake Erie Monsters. The Manitoba Moose, who return to the AHL after a four year hiatus, will be the eighth and final team in the Checkers Midwest Central Division.

So… who are the NHL squads affiliated with the Checkers new division rivals?

  • The Nashville Predators are the parent team of the Milwaukee Admirals. Milwaukee, like Charlotte, is a city filled with great craft beer. It’s a city passionate about their hockey team, and I’m already tentatively planning another roadtrip there to sample their hops… I mean, hockey!
  • The IceHogs of Rockford, Illinois is the birthplace of my favorite NASCAR cheater crew chief Chad Knaus, and home of the famed Rockford Peaches of A League of their Own. Their parent club is the Chicago Blackhawks, ranked number 30 on my personal list of favorite NHL teams.
  • The Manitoba Moose of Winter Winnipeg is home to both the NHL and AHL teams. The Jets and Moose will share an arena in the 2015-16 season and beyond.
  • The Chicago Wolves are currently the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. Their arena is one of the loudest in the AHL, but they have never played in Bojangles Coliseum, and I’m certain the Checkers will be taking over the “loudest” honors this year.
  • The Lake Erie Monsters have a new NHL affiliate, and that’s the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Monsters arena in Cleveland is the easiest drive for Checkers fans, a mere seven hours north on I-77. I forsee a visit by yours truly there in the near future. (Plus, Cleveland is another great beer city, and home of the incredible Great Lakes Brewing Co.).
  • The Iowa Wild of Des Moines are affiliated with the Minnesota Wild. I think it’s a travesty that they chose the name the “Wild” instead of adopting the past hockey team name of the “Chops” in honor of the hog farming industry of Iowa. Iowa is not known for it’s beer, but the corn fields likely provide many of the adjunct grains required for good farmhouse ales.
  • The Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins are located a little over two hours apart. The Griffins share their hometown with Founders Brewing, who make a number of outstanding beers. Grand Rapids is just north of one of my favorite breweries in the land, Bells.

With the departure of the Manchester Monarchs, Norfolk Admirals and Worcester Sharks to California, three teams from the Western Conference were able to move East. Though many speculated Checkers would be one of them, all three teams are (barely) further east then Charlotte. The Rochester Americans (who the Checkers have still never played, despite sharing a conference for four years), Utica Comets and Toronto Marlies all join the Eastern Conference in 2015.

What does another division realignment mean for the Checkers as far as the schedule go? Likely, not much will change due to their new division mates. The biggest difference Checkers fans will notice is the lack of Oklahoma City and Norfolk on the travel schedule. These two teams represented approximately one-third of the Checkers games over the past two seasons, and both teams were bought and subsequently moved to California. Travel to Manitoba will be the most challenging for the Checkers, but at only 1600 miles, it’s only a bit more than half as far as Abbotsford, British Columbia, who the Checkers spent a season with as division rivals.

So, Checkers fans: What do you think of the latest AHL alignment? Is there a division you would have rather seen them in? What about the AHL’s decision to go from six to four divisions? There’s lots to think and talk about!

Charlotte Checkers lose 4-1 to Chicago Wolves: The good, the bad and the ugly

The Good:

  • Chad LaRose has points in seven of his last nine games. As the sole goal scorer for Charlotte tonight, he continues to lead the team with 26 points (13g, 13a).
  • The Checkers pink jerseys, socks and helmets looked amazing. They are probably my favorite of the five years of AHL Pink in the Rink uniforms
  • The Checkers sell-out was the highest attended game of the season. Way to go to the Checkers sales team for selling so many tickets to a game that benefits so many great organizations.
  • Jason Bast, who was signed by the Checkers to a PTO on Thursday, scored his first AHL point, in his fourth AHL game this season (he played two with Bridgeport earlier this season). Bast, who has taken an unconventional route to the AHL, has been tearing up the ECHL as a rookie member of the Idaho Steelheads following five seasons in the WHL with Moose Jaw and then four years as a student at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Canadian universities don’t have the same restrictions that NCAA schools do regarding Major Junior being a “professional” league. Bast is a speedy, skilled centerman who was a lot of fun to watch, and will hopefully create the offensive spark the Checkers so desperately need.
  • Tonight is (possibly) the last time Checkers fans will have to see a terrible loss to the Chicago Wolves, or at least, as regularly as they have come the past four seasons the Checkers have been in the same conference as Chicago. Rumors have Charlotte moving back to the Eastern Conference in 2015-16, where they began their tenure as an AHL franchise in 2010.

The Bad:

  • Charlotte lost 4-1, for the second night in a row, to the Chicago Wolves.
  • The Checkers allowed seven power play opportunities for the Wolves. Chicago was successful on two of these, including a 5-on-3.
  • After the game, Coach Jeff Daniels confirmed that Zach Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the Checkers tonight. He has played 13 games for the Checkers this season, having spent most of the first half with the Carolina Hurricanes. He is the Checkers franchise leading goal scorer, with 106 to his credit over the course of five seasons.

The Ugly:

  • The Checkers lost their fourth game in a row following the AHL All-Star break in late January. Following the Christmas break in December, the Checkers also lost four games in a row after a strong month leading up to the break. Coach Jeff Daniels recognized the pattern of the Checkers faltering a bit following breaks. “It’s a trend. It’s a concern. Both times we’ve come off a break we haven’t been sharp. We’ve forgotten how to work.”
  • With another loss for the Iowa Wild, the Charlotte Checkers still sit two points out of last place in the American Hockey League.

Despite Dan Ellis stopping 41 shots, Charlotte Checkers lose to Chicago 2-1

  • Chris Terry, after a three-game suspension, scored the loan goal for the Checkers tonight at 12:44 in the first period.  In typical #Terryiffic   fashion, he was in front of the net at the right place and right time.  He deflected a pass from Brett Sutter, and put Charlotte on the board.
  • Drayson Bowman;s scoring streak came to an end after eight games.  Tonight was the first time in a long time he didn’t score a goal.
  • Dan Ellis had an incredible night.  He faced 43 shots on goal, stopping all but two of them.  The team in front of him at times appeared incredibly flat, not showing nearly the energy they had during Sunday’s home opener.   With Marc-Andre Gragnani back in the lineup, the defense pairings were different, and didn’t seem nearly as effective.
  • I’m anxious to see if Zack Kassian gets any kind of a suspension or fine for his penalty box temper tantrum that resulted in a bloodied off-ice official in the box with him.  I have no idea if this could happen, but it should!
  • The Wolves scored twice in the second period.  Both goals came from Steve Pinizzotto, who formerly tormented the Checkers as a member of the Hershey Bears during the inaugural Checkers AHL season.  His first goal came after splitting the Checkers defense and getting Ellis out of position and as a result, finding the back of the empty net.
  • Pinzzotto’s second goal came as a near breakaway with Nicolas Blanchard trailing him all the way o the net, but even Blanchard’s ferocity wasn’t enough to stop the puck from getting past Ellis.
  • The save of the night came with 13:10 to go in the third period.  There was a lot of traffic in front of Ellis, which was a theme of the night, and he ended up on his back, head away from the play and practically blind with his head under the net, and legs flailing like a dying roach when he swatted the puck away with his hand.  OK, so comparing him to a dying roach isn’t the best description, but honestly, it was awesome and hands down the save of the game.
  • The Checkers had two disallowed goals on the night.  The first was the result of goaltender interference with a Chicago player way to deep into the crease when he made the play.  The second disallowed goal was the result of a hand pass from Darren Haydar with three minutes to go in the third.
  • The biggest difference between Sunday and tonight’s game was the effectiveness of the Checkers forecheck.  On Sunday, the Wolves couldn’t even make it to their end of the ice the Checkers were so strong, and tonight, the Wolves were able to skate wherever they wanted.
  • After the game, Dan Ellis commented that he felt good about the game. In reference to the 43 shots on goal he faced, he said that he came out with to prove, and proved it.  He didn’t seem fazed by the SOG, and actually said it pushes his cardio and pushes his body and enabled him to stay in it with so much action.  Ellis appears to be a true leader in the room with a group of much younger and inexperienced teammates.  He said, “The season is a long journey.  You’re not going to get everything right at the start of the season.”
  • Not having Wilson again was a disappointment from a fan’s perspective.  There was so much dead air between plays. Elle did a nice job reading the script for the spots sponsors pay for, but she didn’t rally the crowd.   The most the crowd got going was when he was shown on the video board.  (Which made me wonder, does he get royalties from those appearances?)  It’s going to be great to have him back on Thursday night.
  • Photos to follow (maybe) tomorrow.  I think I figured out how to use my camera… don’t use the fancy white balance settings like I used to, and instead let the fancy camera figure it out, and I end up with perfect shots!

Charlotte Checkers dominate in home opener win against the Chicago Wolves

Tim Wallace is fierce. I like him a lot (though Nate Beasley is the president and founder of his fan club, I’m merely a member!) (Photo – J. Propst)

Hits and misses… I know it’s a cliche, but it’s easier to separate my thoughts out this way!  What did you all think of the game? Of the crowd? Of the experience?  If the rest of the season goes the way the first month, we’re in for a treat in Charlotte!


  • Only four days shy of exactly seven months ago, the Checkers played their last home game in Charlotte. Though they lost 2-1, their playoff hopes were still in tact, only to be dashed a week later in Milwaukee. Tonight’s return to home ice was a triumphant one. After a stellar nine-game roadtrip to start the season where the Checkers racked up 13 of a possible 16 points, hopes were high for the home team, and they didn’t disappoint.  Justin Peters was strong between the pipes, but the skaters in front of him played an even bigger role as offensive dynamos who continued their power play dominance
  • Chubby rappelled down onto the ice from the catwalk while wearing hockey skates, over 100 feet above the ice floor, and it was awesome.  I must send a special shout out to I.A.T.S.E. Local 322 riggers for their expertise in helping facilitate it and keeping our favorite mascot safe!
  • Drayson Bowman and his eight-game goal scoring streak is not a fluke. That guy is on fire, and gave it his all every single shift.  I’m going to cherish every moment of the NHL lockout because he’s in Charlotte, and I know he won’t be back in the AHL after it ends.
  • The Checkmates have new uniforms, and I’m a fan.  Though the sleeves are shorter, the tops give me confidence that I’m not at risk for seeing any nip during a particularly energetic dance move.
  • The D-pairings caught me off guard at first, but the more I watched the chemistry, the more I liked it.    For the most part, Sanguinetti and Bellemore played together and Jordan and Faulk skated together.
  • Speaking of defense, I love their role in the Checkers new highly touted forecheck. All of the defenseman were more aggressive and physical, and had a huge role in a number of the Checkers goals.
  • The Checkers as a whole made some great passes.  A specific example that comes to mind was Justin Faulk finding Riley Nash in the third period which led to the Checkers fourth goal of the night.
  • Justin Krueger continues to impress me with his fierceness.  He’s taken pucks and sticks to the face, and he isn’t afraid to use his body to prevent the other team from scoring.  He might not have lots of points on the score sheet, but his role is so much more important than those numbers.  If I was to buy a new Checkers jersey, it would be his!
  • The more I hear the Checkers goal song, the more I like it.  I love that it is original, and can only be heard here in Charlotte. (And hearing it four times on opening night was a treat!)
  • I can’t believe that Justin Faulk is only 20.  Do you know what I was doing when I was 20? Well, it definitely wasn’t anything close to what he’s doing as one of the best defenseman in the highest level of professional hockey.


  • The three stars.  Justin Peters was the first star? Yeah, I get It, he was the
    Drayson Bowman is so fast he’s almost blurry! (Photo – J. Propst)

    winning goaltender and allowed only one goal, but he wasn’t even close to the best player on the ice. He was incredibly lucky to have a talented group of skaters in front of him, and he definitely made some good saves, but he also was fortunate that the at least two shots hit the posts and deflected away, or each of them could have been goals. I like Peters, and think he’s incredibly skilled, but he was not the first star of the night.

  • Not having Wilson on opening night.  There were a lot of fans in attendance this afternoon.  Many were local die-hards and long-time season ticket holders, some were new to Charlotte’s incredible hockey team, and many were down from Raleigh and surrounding areas to see the first taste of Hockey in North Carolina.  Wilson’s absence to old and new fans alike was incredibly noticeable. He is, hands down, one of the greatest assets this hockey team has.  Wilson has the charisma and energy to get a dead crowd moving, and an alive crowd on fire. The Checkers arena is one of the loudest in the AHL because of Wilson, and he was VERY missed this afternoon.
  • I know it was her first game filling in for Wilson, and his are HUGE shoes to fill, but Elle Bunn was just not very effective at getting the crowd involved.  Maybe she was overwhelmed with the countless sponsorship plugs.  Maybe they didn’t get a good sound check on her mic, because she could hardly be heard over the music (but other in-arena announcements were heard loud and clear). Maybe it’s because she kind of blended into the crowd in a plain black tee instead of a full-fledged team-color hockey sweater. It was a rough start.  I work in theater, so I’m going to chalk it up to opening night jitters.
  • My photography skills.  I’m still learning about my new camera, and everything about tonight’s shots are terrible! They will get better though, I promise!  If you want to see the only ones that don’t suck, head to the Chasing Checkers facebook page.

Quick Hits, and Wolves at Checkers gameday preview

Quick HIts:

  • This is a great article about Charlotte Checkers goaltender Dan Ellis, and his return to the AHL this season.  Personally, I’ve been incredibly impressed with Ellis’ play, and a player like him can take this team far.
  • On the subject of goaltenders, former Checkers goalie and fan favorite Mike Murphy was released by Spartak Moscow on Thursday.  The KHL is a very different league than any of those in North America. The teams that win are the ones with an unlimited payroll, and Spartak has about the lowest in the league. Murphy would face as many as 40-50 shots in any given game, an impossible feat for nearly anyone.  I heard from him on Friday, and he told me he tried hard and learned a lot, and closed our conversation with, “It is what it is.”

Chicago Wolves (6-2-1-0) at Charlotte Checkers (6-2-0-1)

  • This afternoon marks Charlotte’s first home game after a nine-game roadtrip that left the team 6-2-0-1.  The Checkers last game was on Wednesday, a 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals.
  • The Checkers and Wolves are pretty evenly matched with nearly identical records.  Each team has 13 points and sits atop their respective divisions.
  • Chicago last played on Friday night in Rockford, a 6-3 victory.  They are currently 6-2-1-0.
  • Charlotte tops the league on the power play, while the Wolves are near the bottom.
  • On the penalty kill, the Checkers are in a very respectable sixth place.  The Wolves are at the bottom of the pack (get it? Wolves….. Pack.  I know, it wasn’t that funny.  I won’t try so hard next time!)
  • Drayson Bowman is in the midst of a seven-game goal scoring streak, a stat that leads the league. Here’s hoping that can extend to nine!
  • Former Hurricane and Checker Derek Joslin is playing for the Wolves this year.  In eight games, he has two assists.
  • The Checkers attendance has been so bad this season, they aren’t even listed on the AHL’s attendance rankings. Oh, wait… they haven’t had a home game, so being unlisted is ok.  If there are 10K fans at the game this afternoon though, they’ll be number one tomorrow!
  • Opening night (afternoon) at the Checkers is always a time for me to stroll past the merchandise stand and see if there’s anything new and awesome. Mostly though, I walk past with my fingers crossed that there aren’t pink and/or sparkly jerseys for sale.  I hate pink jerseys.  I don’t understand why they are an acceptable item to show team pride.  Stick to the team colors, please!!!!! (Edited to say: I am a HUGE fan of Pink in the Rink jerseys, but those are for charity, and therefore awesome. But pink girl jerseys are not okay EVER, and if you wear one, I will mock you!)
  • Mrs. Mike Fisher Carrie Underwood was in concert last night at TWCA. The ice was uncovered at around 2 a.m.  I would expect the concert festivities may have an effect on today’s ice.
  • Speaking of concerts, who do I need to suggest to the Checkers staff that they should make Justin Bieber a personalized Charlotte Checker’s jersey when he plays the arena on January 22? He’s Canadian, loves hockey, and his favorite number is 6.  Don’t ask me how I know this.  Cause don’t tell me it wouldn’t be AWESOME to see him wearing it sometime… this of all the free media coverage!

Gametime:  3:00 p.m. EST


Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,@MikeLappan@Jason_Shaya@ChasingCheckers

Chicago Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves@TheShaves

Chasing Checkers game-day twitter list:

The One About the ’12-’13 Schedule.

Tess and Haley here again! First of all, our apologies for not posting our thoughts earlier, Haley and I have been pretty busy between moving, school, work, and life. Regardless, better late than never!

We’ll go ahead and start this off with the massive elephant in the room. To rip it off like a band-aid, the Checkers don’t play at home until November 4th, nearly a month after their season starts. Luckily, the nine away-game stretch that starts out the season is the longest our fellas will be away. The hockey gods giveth, and the hockey gods taketh… and thankfully they made up for that nine game stretch by giving us a 10 game stretch at home from November 24th to December 15th!

As for the competitors this season, though the Checkers have once again changed divisions, the opponents won’t be all too unfamiliar. All of Charlotte’s adversaries this season are in the Western conference, with the exception of area rival, Norfolk Admirals. The team will face each of their South Division foes (Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Texas). Since joining the Western Conference the Checkers have yet to face Hamilton, Rochester, and Toronto and will continue not oppose them during the regular season. However they will face Norfolk, Houston, OKC, Peoria, Milwaukee and Texas eight times and Abbotsford, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lake Erie, and Rockford four times.

There are a few notable games in the schedule. The Checkers will have two doubleheaders with the Bobcats this season, December 15th and January 12th. On both dates the Checkers will play at noon and the Bobcats will follow at 7 pm. The November 24th game coincides with the team’s 5K Run & Walk, which is still open for registration and volunteer help.

The last game to keep your eye out for is on January 6th. The team will play in Raleigh against the Norfolk Admirals, the reigning Calder Cup champions. Keep in mind that the ‘Canes play the Isles the night before in Raleigh as well so make a weekend out of it! We’d also like to make note that the promotional schedule has yet to be released, so we’ll be sure to make mention of more notable games later.

Lastly, the Checkers have a huge advantage towards the end of the season. During the month of February the team only plays eight games, two of which are at home, then play 14 of their next 18 games at home, spanning from March 1st to April 12th. After the 12th, the team closes the season with four away games, ending regular season on April 20th.

To check out the Checkers schedule for yourself, go here. For the full AHL schedule, click here.
As always, we look forward to writing much more about the season to come!



Charlotte Checkers – Playoff Outlook and regular season wind-down

Eight games, and a maximum of 16 points are on the line in the next two weeks.

The Checkers play the next four games at home, then play four more during the final week of the regular season (three of which I will be at, live and in person!).

The race to the post season in the west is a tight one.  Only three points separate positions four through nine in the conference.

Here’s a brief look at Charlotte’s remaining opponents:

Milwaukee Admirals – The Checkers face them three times in the next two weeks.  Twice at home, and once on April 15, the final game of the regular season for both teams.  While Milwaukee isn’t currently in the playoffs, if they were to take all six points from Charlotte, the post season wouldn’t be out of the picture.  The Admirals have a record of 34-28-2-4 on the season, and have 74 points in 68 games played.  They are 1-3-1 against Charlotte, the only victory coming last November in Milwaukee.

Abbotsford Heat – The Checkers have back-to-back matinee games against the Heat next weekend at home.  Abbotsford is fourth in the conference with 80 points.  They are in what is probably the toughest division in the entire league, and are one of four teams from the West currently sitting in a playoff position.  The Checkers are 1-1 against the Heat after they split a pair of games in January in Abbotsford.

Rockford IceHogs – Currently in 11th, the IceHogs are just on the outside of the playoffs looking in, but if they took four points from Charlotte, that could potentially be enough to get them into the post season.  The Checkers are 4-1-0-1 against the IceHogs, and both games in Rockford resulted in wins for Charlotte.  With two more games there in a five-day stretch, those two games will be crucial to the Checkers playoff hopes, and quest for not only a spot in the post season, but home ice advantage that will probably require them to sit atop the Midwest division.

Peoria Rivermen – The Checkers have a record of 5-2 against Peoria this season, and face them one more time during the final weekend of the season.  The Rivermen are currently in eighth place in the west with 78 points in 71 games played.  Mike Murphy is 3-0 against the Rivs this season, so I for one hope he gets the start in two weeks against them in Peoria.

Other teams to watch out for:

Chicago Wolves – I’ll be doing a lot of scoreboard watching regarding the Wolves.  They currently sit atop the Midwest division, and are three points ahead of Charlotte with 82.  The scheduling gods were smiling on Charlotte when they made up the Wolves final weeks of the season.  From April 4-13, Chicago has a five-game roadtrip that has them play Oklahoma City, all three Texas teams, and finally a game in Grand Rapids, Michigan before returning home for their last two games of the season.  Needless to say, I’ll be cheering for their opponents over the roadtrip stretch.  With the Vancouver Canucks playoff future bright, there’s also the chance of losing valuable prospects to the NHL club, something the Wolves never had to worry about during their tenure with the Atlanta Thrashers.

San Antonio Rampage – Currently in a three-way tie with Charlotte for fourth place, the Rampage have 79 points in 70 games played.  Five of their final six games are at home, a factor that may prove to be incredibly beneficial.

Houston Aeros – The other third of the Checkers three-way tie, the Aeros have 79 points in 70 games played.  They are 32-23-5-10.  Yes.  They have lost 15 games after 60 minutes of play, including 10 lost shootouts.  That’s an incredibly crazy stat if you ask me, and is the highest number of loser-points given to a team in the entire league.

Gameday: Chicago Wolves at Charlotte Checkers

Chicago Wolves (32-22-2-3) at Charlotte Checkers (31-19-3-5)

  • I still say the Wolves logo looks more like a rabid dog, and not so much like a wolf… but it does have the vintage 1990’s look about it that the Carolina Panthers (old) font has.
  • Only one point separates the two teams, with Charlotte in the division lead (a place they’ve held onto for all of 2012), however Chicago has one more game played, so even if the Checkers lose in OT or a shootout, they would maintain the lead. (Though they have to get that one point to maintain the lead!)
  • Chicago is on a two-game win streak.  The Checkers have struggled a bit, and went 0-1-1 last weekend against Lake Erie.
  • Against the Midwest division this season, Charlotte has a record of 13-6-0-2, however the Wolves have found a chink in the Checkers armor, and lead the series 2-3-0-1.
  • Special teams may very well be the biggest key to the matchup tonight and tomorrow.  Charlotte is ranked in the top ten in both the power play and penalty kill (PK:7th, PP:6th).  Chicago, on the other hand, has quite polar-opposite special teams records.  They are last in the league on the power play, but 10th on the penalty kill.
  • The third period may be tough to watch no matter which team you prefer.  Both Charlotte and Chicago struggle immensely in the third period.  Charlotte has allowed 62 goals and only scored 45 in the third, and Chicago has allowed 51 and scored 37.  That is a -17 goal differential for Charlotte, and a -14 goal differential for Chicago. Can I please petition to have the AHL adopt a two-period, 40 minute game, because the Checkers would be number one if they did that!

In The Crease:

  • Wolves starting goalie Eddie Lack is 3-1 against Charlotte this year.  On the season, in 35 games played he is 16-15-0-3.  (2.30 GAA, .926 SV%).
  • Matt Climie, in 26 games played, is 16-9-0-0.  He has a 2.59 GAA and .921 SV%.  He is 1-1 against the Checkers.
  • Mike Murphy is 1-2 in four games played against the Wolves.  I was pretty pissed in December when he was pulled after the rest of the team decided not to play any defense.  Though Murphy’s numbers against Chicago aren’t spectacular, he’s 15-11-2-0 on the season (2.68 GAA, .910 SV%).
  • Justin Peters has not faced the Wolves this year, as until this weekend, every game against Chicago was during the time he was with the Hurricanes backing up Cam Ward.  In 15 games played, he’s 6-7-1 (2.46 GAA, .920 SV%).

Scoring and Shooting:

  • Mark Mancari has 49 points in 53 games played (25G, 24A).  In only three games against the Checkers, has five points (4G, 1A). 
  • Darren Haydar has 43 points in 54 games this year (14G, 29A).  In six games against the Checkers, he has only two points (1G, 1A).
  •  In 56 games with the Checkers, Chris Terry leads the team with 47 points (12G, 35A). In six games against Chicago, he has three assists.
  • Zach Boychuk, in 46 games played, has 32 points (14G, 18A). He has three points against Chicago (1G, 2A).

Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio: None
Charlotte TV: TWCA
Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Chicago Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves@TheShaves
Referee:  Keith Kaval (#40)
Linesmen: Terry Wicklum (#58), Mark Hamlett (#81)

Checkers lose 5-2 in Rosemont to the Wolves

  • After mentioning in my pregame piece that Mike Mancari, the Wolves leading scorer, had yet to appear (and therefore register a point) against the Checkers, he had to go and score the first two of the game, and got a third point in the form of an assist.  I really hope I didn’t jinx the Checkers for that one!
  • The Checkers looked lost out there for most of the first two periods.  Official gamesheet is HERE, and it’s not pretty.
  • The injuries to key guys like Chris Durno, Riley Nash and Justin Shugg hurt the forward lines a great deal.  Mathieu Roy’s absence hurts, but the team has been fortunate with Derek Joslin’s presence to fill in lately.  He’s a guy I will miss when he returns to Raleigh.
  • In case you were wondering, AHL Live is the biggest joke of a product when you have to use it to watch Checkers games.  Tonight was the first time I had to see a game in Chicago online, and disgust is putting it mildly.  They have a single camera angle, probably operated by an intern, that sits in press row.  Every time a media person walked behind the camera, the whole thing shakes because of the rickety platform everyone sits on.  The audio feed was at such a low level, I couldn’t hear Jason Shaya and gave up on video in favor of his audio alone on the radio.  It was the best decision I’ve ever made!  What is frustrating is the Wolves broadcast EVERY SINGLE GAME in Chicago, but do viewers online who subscribe to AHLLive get that feed?  Of course not.  We get the shaky lo-res home video camera from the upper deck.
  • With their fifth shorthanded goal of the year (Thank you, Zac Dalpe!) the Checkers are now tied for fourth in shorties in the AHL.
  • After a couple of weeks of shaking up the defensive pairings, things on the blue line have been consistent for the last three games or so.  Bellemore-Jordan, Krueger-Rissanen and Joslin-Sanguinetti.
  • Eddie Lack made some incredible saves throughout the course of the game. He’s a REALLY fantastic goaltender, who will probably be a number one in the NHL one day.  Having two great goaltenders and an easy travel schedule even during a three-in-three weekend is definitely a benefit that Chicago has with it’s central location in the Midwest division.
  • Last night’s game in Milwaukee was won during the third period with stellar play by the Checkers.  With a last-minute goal in the second by Zac Dalpe, and a second goal by Nicolas Blanchard early in the third, I had high hopes that the Checkers would become a third period team once again. That wasn’t to happen, and the Wolves offense proved to be too much for the Checkers.  The third was a very back-and-forth contest, with countless offensive rushes, but they didn’t amount to anything for Charlotte.
  • The Checkers, as a whole, didn’t do a good job controlling rebounds offensively or defensively, and also lacked the ability to make good second chances turn into goals.
  • While the score was 5-2 on the scoresheet, it was a much closer game than that.  Emotions got too high late in the third, the team got sloppy and that resulted in the final goal, an empty netter.  Regardless, this is a game that Charlotte could have and should have won, and at times, was pretty disappointing to watch.
  • The Checkers return home tomorrow morning on a couple of early flights (I hate it that they never fly direct to Charlotte!  Layovers in Dallas have got to be old by now!).  The team has a four-game home stand coming up, which will be nice to players and fans alike.

Let’s Go Checkers