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.

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Comeback Checkers: Charlotte overcomes a 4-1 deficit with six unanswered goals to defeat Iowa Wild 7-4

For the second time in a week, the Charlotte Checkers became the comeback kids, overcoming a 4-1 deficit at the end of the second intermission win by a score of 7-4 over the Iowa Wild.

Coach Mark Morris spoke candidly about the lack of effort from the home team during the first two periods of play.

“Our execution was less than stellar,” Morris stated, “and again, we didn’t start the game with the kind of focus we need to really be on top of our game.”

After the first period, when the home team came out flat and allowed three goals, Drew MacIntyre replaced rookie Rasmus Tirronen, who faced 15 shots in the first period, which was almost twice what Mac faced in the remaining 40 minutes of play.

The Checkers looked slightly better in the second period, with MacIntyre allowing one goal and the Checkers scoring one as well, but there was still a lot of work to do.

Midway through the game, Brendan Woods tried to get former Checkers captain Brett Sutter to drop the gloves, but Brett was having none of it. Instead, Wild left wing Kellan Lain stepped in and defeated Woods quickly, with both players going to the box for a cool down.

Charlotte Checkers Captain Derek Ryan commented honestly about the lack of effort at the beginning of the game, and what Coach said to inspire the comeback.

“Well he didn’t really come in and yell at us. He’s done that before and probably is tired of doing that…. I think his message is just we’ve got to start figuring stuff out on our own…. We’re super inconsistent right now… I’m not sure what it is.”

After a 16-game drought that was broken only four days ago on Tuesday, Zach Boychuk scored his second goal in three games, an unassisted shot that found the back of the net one minute into the third period, and the first of six unanswered goals that led to the Checkers phenomenal comeback.

“It’s great. The leadership that we have in this room and the determination to come back. We’ve done it quite a few times this year…” Boychuk continued, “Hopefully next game we can come out with a little better start.”

Coach Mark Morris talked to the team after the first two periods of play, and what was said turned the effort and energy around, leading to an epic comeback.

“I told the guys, I said listen,” Morris said, “we’ve come back from 4-1 against these guys in the past and I’m not counting us out.

With a 7-4 win over the Iowa Wild, Coach was right. Never count out the Charlotte Checkers.

 

 

Despite stellar goaltending from Drew MacIntyre, Charlotte Checkers lose home opener 2-1.

In front of over 7277 Charlotte Checkers fans, the team lost their home opener to Grand Rapids by a score of 2-1.  The Griffins outshot the Checkers 43-19, and if not for stellar goaltending by Checkers newcomer Drew MacIntyre, the final score would have been very different.

Brody Sutter scored the Checkers lone goal, only 24 hours after he made his NHL debut with the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden. Sutter became the ninth member of his family to play in an NHL game. His was the first shot of the second period, and came mere seconds after one of the Checkers five power plays expired.

Sutter recognizes that his role on this year’s team is going to be a new one he’s still charting the course for.

“I need to be a leader. I know what kind of player I am,  I’m a defense first guy,” Sutter explained,  “but I need to step up a little bit more offensively…  JD has given me the opportunity, and I need to capitalize on it and help the boys out.”

Ten players new to the Checkers team made their regular-season home debut. Some of the newcomers include rookies Trevor Carrick, Carter Sandlak, Phil Di Giuseppe, Brock McGinn and Patrick Brown, who made his Charlotte debut tonight after starting the season with the Hurricanes.

The most notable new faces in today’s lineup include Chad LaRose, who won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes, Ben Holmstrom, a veteran defenseman and former AHL captain who is one of the Checkers alternate captains, and goaltender Drew MacIntyre.

MacIntryre, who was robbed of first star honors (they really should have asked me), made 39 saves, and prevented the Griffins from scoring on either of the two 5-on-3 opportunities they had during the game, made countless amazing saves.

MacIntyre comes to the Checkers with a long list of records, awards and statistics that will hopefully bring the team a veteran presence in the crease that the desperately need.

MacIntyre cited a lack of confidence in the reason for the team’s jitters. When asked if the abundance of new faces on the team was a reason for that, he was adamant it wasn’t.

“I don’t like the youth excuse. I don’t like excuses. I don’t like any of them. We just have to find a way to get better.”

 

 

 

Assorted notes:

  • Kudos to the team for the history introduction video. The Checkers are the longest lasting franchise in this city, and it’s something to be proud of!
  • The Checkers came close to breaking a record they only sat last Saturday in Chicago, with only 15 SOG all game. I counted two power plays where the home team didn’t register a single shot on net.
  • The Checkers had to kill eight penalties. Two of them included 5-on-3s.
  • My first opening night didn’t end with a point in the win column, but it sure was nice to see a season from the very beginning!