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!

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!



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.

Charlotte Checkers defeat Grand Rapids Griffins 6-5

It was an ugly game, but a win is a win, and two more points in the standings is always a good thing.  Rod Brind’amour was in Charlotte for the game, and it’s not necessarially the kind of game I’d want Hurricanes brass scouting at!

The Checkers were down two goals early, but came back with five unanswered goals, eventually beating the Griffins by a score of 6 to 5.

Offensively, the Checkers played extremely well.  The power play unit scored two goals, and turned a number of second chances into goals, which is something the team has been working on over the course of the season.

Defensively, the team made a lot of mistakes.  The Checkers allowed  couple of goals because they were screening their own goalie.  Defensemen were parked so much in front of goaltender Mike Murphy that he didn’t even have a chance.  In the second, forward Nicolas Blanchard lost his stick.  Instead of staying on his guy, Blanchard turned his back to go after his own stick, and the resulting play resulted in Chris Minard’s goal, his first of the season in only his second game this year since returning from a 2009 concussion injury.

This leads me to a question.  I was sitting on the glass, and very clearly saw Blanch’s word choice after the goal went in, and it was an English four-letter word.  Blanchard, of course, is a native French speaker.  So in the case of guys who speak English as their second language, what is the preferred language of cussing?  I mean, French-Canadian bad words are much less exciting than the F-bomb, in my opinion, so maybe that’s why they are used?  What about Rissanen, Krueger and Jordan?  What language do they cuss in?  I might have to ask them next time I see them…


Other general thoughts:

  • Chris Terry was a beast tonight.  Aside from two beautiful goals, he was consistently in the right place at the right time.  Terry is a guy that hustles and makes great plays, no matter what line he’s on, if it’s a special team unit of even strength.  His second goal of the evening, early in the second period, was made for the highlight reel.  He took his own rebound off of the dasher board, shot the puck, and it made it into the crease, with the help of a defenseman’s skate.  My jaw dropped when I watched the play unfold.  It was incredible.
  • It was great to see Sean Dolan get his first AHL goal.  It was a nice goal off a rebound that was the result of the Checkers parking themselves in front of the opposition’s net.  For a guy the Checkers just picked up on a PTO from the South Carolina Stingrays, he’s making quite the show as to why Charlotte should keep him.  He’s got a lot of energy, and proving to be quite reliable.
  • Zac Dalpe’s goal in the third was another example of the Checkers making good use of second chances.  Overall, the night had a lot of great offensive rebounds, many of which resulted of goals.
  • The third period could have lost the game for Charlotte.  It was very up and down. Offensively, the team stayed strong, but defensively there were a lot of gaffs, almost as if the players were unaware of their surroundings, and it didn’t help that the Checkers were down to only five defenseman after Chris Murray left the ice in the second and didn’t return.

The team leaves tomorrow morning for Abbotsford, B.C.  The last time I flew to Western Canada, I flew direct, and it was an almost six hour flight, and we know the Checkers NEVER fly direct.  This is the team’s first game in Canada, for as long as I can remember, anyway.  It’s not going to be an easy weekend of travel.  They play the heat on Friday and Saturday, fly back to Charlotte (and it’s a lot of flying and airport connections!) on Sunday, then on Monday, they bus to Norfolk for a game against the Admirals.  If Chris Murray can’t travel, it will be interesting to see what the Checkers do for a sixth defenseman.  Fortunately, traveling from Florida (Ft. Myers, where Ryan Donald and Kyle Lawson are) to Canada is probably a bit easier, because those Canadians love to fly to warm places in the winter.


Gameday: Grand Rapids at Charlotte, take two

  • With their 4-2 victory over the Grand Rapids on Sunday, the Checkers are 2-0 against the Griffins.  Mike Murphy will get the start in net once again.
  • This morning, the Checkers had 14 Forwards skating, including Justin Shugg and Riley Nash who have both missed games recently due to injuries.  According to Paul Branecky, Nash will skate tonight, and Cedric McNicoll will be a healthy scratch.
  • This is the second of a two-game home stand against Grand Rapids in their only trip to Charlotte.  Tempers flared during the game on Sunday, so some of that has the potential to carry over into today.
  • Jerome Samson, Brett Sutter and Justin Peters remain with the Hurricanes.  It’s worth mentioning that Samson sat out of the Canes loss on Sunday against Washington with an upper body injury.
Also, a shameless plug for my friends at the Admirals Roundtable.  Ryan had the chance to sit down with AHL Commissioner David Andrews.  This is a must-read to all AHL hockey fans.  Mr. Andrews discusses the challenges of being a fan in the Western Conference, and most importantly, how close video replay is to becoming a regular thing in the AHL.
I would love this chance… and already have questions brimming in my mind if I had the opportunity to ask them of Commissioner Andrews!!  Next time he’s in Charlotte, I’ll be there with digital recorder and pen in hand!




Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio:  WBCN 1660 AM
Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Grand Rapids Twitter: @griffinshockey@michaelzuidema

Referee:  Marcus Vinnerborg (#45), Curtis Marouelli (#78)
Linesmen:  Jean Menard (#12), Joe DeMizio (#3)

Observations from a 4-2 Checkers win

Once again, I forgot to post this.  I’ll add my own thoughts at the end of Allan’s recap. – J


1. Good job of holding it together after giving up another 3rd period lead.  The team stuck to how they had played the whole game and when they got the lead back the D stepped up and shut Grand Rapids down.

2. Coach Daniels mixed the centers up a good bit on the 4th line and it paid off on the first goal. Matsumoto kept the play alive in the corner and made a good feed back to the point for Jordan. Jordan ripped a nice shot and Soryal and Staal both were in front causing traffic.  Soryal got his stick on it for a nice deflected goal.

3. Overall the PP looked better, but not great, they almost scored twice in the last 16 seconds of the first period.  Dalpe did a nice job of staying with the blocked shot in the second period which led to a rebound and a wide open net he put away.  They did give up an awful three on one shorthanded rush that Grand Rapids messed up.  Still need to pass a little quicker to open up the other team.  Missing Samson on the PP unit really makes a difference.

4. The PK unit was very solid and did a much better job than against Hershey but I’m sure every AHL team does better on the PK when not facing Hershey.

5. Grand Rapids had a goal waved off in the second that was questionable but they got it back when the puck went off Rissanen’s skate right back to Grand Rapids for an easy goal late in the second period.

6. Chris Murray absolutely destroyed Trevor Parkes in a second period fight.  Parkes nailed Murray in the corner and he went right back after him near the penalty box.  I was surprised the refs let it go as long as they did.  Murray kept landing pretty clean shots on Parkes who was just trying to pull Murray down to stop it.  Only bad part was Murray taking an additional minor penalty to get the fight started.

7. Not sure what started Boychuck and Tatar’s fight but it did not last long as Tatar pulled Boychuck down pretty fast and it was over.

8. While the fourth line played pretty well for most of the game they got burned bad on the equalizer in the second period.  The forwards got sucked in pretty deep and a turnover led to a breakout the  other way and a pretty easy one-two goal.  Defensively having McNicoll and Staal on the same line is not that great because both can be knocked off the puck fairly easily for different reasons.  Coach Daniels mixing the centers up on that line had been working better till that point.

9. Congrats to Rasmus Rissanen for the game winner and his first AHL goal.  He only scored 5 goals in 2 years in the WHL but you can see the speed and puck handling ability coming around as he continues to play.  I think he surprised the whole Grand Rapids team with the aggressivness of his rush and Joey MacDonald was not ready for that little wrist shot.  Rissanen and Krueger continue to get more comfortable with puck handling and should add some more bonus offense by the end of the year.

10. The Checkers pretty easily handled the 6-5 empty net situation at the end of the game with Terry sniping a beauty from the red line to finish the game off.

11. Good game by the team as they continue to battle it out while waiting for the reinforments to return from injury and the NHL.  I do hope they give Sean Dolan a SPC to keep him with the team or at least so they can send him to Florida instead of his previous ECHL team South Carolina.


Jenni’s Thoughts about Hershey and Grand Rapids:

  • I cringed a bit in the third when Chris Terry got that breakaway goal last night, and ended up crashing into Joey MacDonald.  He would have had a fair chance to shoot the puck, but the Grand Rapids player (I didn’t jot down his name, only the play that occurred) grabbed Terry from behind and not only kept CT from shooting the puck, but also caused both skaters to go crashing into MacDonald in a play that almost resembled the fateful one that resulted in MacDonald missing 11 games due to a concussion in November.
  • My jaw dropped when the first goal of the night was scored… really?  A line with Matsumoto, Soryal and Staal? I hope that was a line change and not an actual, intentional line because there is no stranger center with those two wingers than I have ever seen.  Granted, it worked, but that doesn’t make it less odd.
  • The more I watch them, the more I like watching both Justin Krueger and Rasmus Rissanen.  Neither one of them score a lot of goals, but is that really what defensemen are supposed to do?  Rissanen took a couple of dumb penalties in the first, but he’s a really smart player who learns from his mistakes and seems to adapt pretty well.  He played a clean remainder of the game, and who can forget him scoring the game winner!
  • Kudos to the Checkers organization on their continued awesomeness.  First of all, I hear the “Checkers with the Checkers” event was fantastic.  I hate I missed it!  Secondly, thank you to the organization AND the fans that showed up yesterday.  11,000 plus on a Sunday afternoon is pretty great!
  • While the Checkers came away with only one point against Hershey, there are a lot of positives to take from those games.  While down a skater, the Checkers made it to the shootout, which in and of itself is a huge feat.  The second game was a loss by Charlotte, but there were great things happening on the ice.  Hershey is a team that blows away their opponents, and wins hockey games with scores of 5-2 or 6-4.  Charlotte isn’t like that, at all.  The fact that the Checkers lost by one goal in each game is a big deal, and something that should be built upon.  Hershey, partially as a result of their wins in Charlotte, took over the number one spot in the league. (For the record, the Checkers are in fourth… not too shabby!)
  • Overall, the feel of both Hershey games was playoff hockey.  It was disciplined, and hard-hitting, and just incredibly impressive as a fan of the Charlotte team.  If they can continue with that kind of focus for a full 60-minutes each game, this team can go far!


Pregame Quick Hits: Grand Rapids Griffins at Charlotte Checkers


Grand Rapids Griffins (15-14-4-3) at Charlotte Checkers (21-14-2-2)

This is the second of four meetings against the Griffins this year.  Charlotte won a 2-1 game on November 5.  During that game, Chris Terry was giving a two-game suspension following a charging call on goaltender Joey McDonald.  McDonald, as a result of a concussion, missed 11 games.

Grand Rapids Notes:
  • Just like their NHL counterpart and the famed winged wheel of the Detroit Red Wings, the Griffins are also named after a winged, mythical beast.  I’m mostly kidding about the Red Wings being mythical beasts, but both NHL and AHL teams do have winged mascots… and each is a bit far fetched, eh?
  • Grand Rapids has only lost once in regulation during the past month, a loss on Friday night in Michigan against the Texas Stars.
  • Joey MacDonald is the Griffin’s starting goaltender. He has spent most of his11-year professional career in the Red Wings organization, but has NHL games with other clubs including the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.  In 19 games this year, MacDonald is 8-8-2-2 (2.78GAA, 0.906 SV%).
  • Right Wing Gustav Nyquist leads the team in points with 34 (10G, 24A). Earlier in the season, he spent a few games with the Red Wings.  You can follow him on twitter!
  • Center Jamie Johnson leads the team in goals with 14.
  • Defenseman Travis Ehrhardt is expected to play today.  Due to shoulder surgery, he’s only played three games all season for Grand Rapids.
  • Left Wing Chris Minard was just assigned to the Griffins by Detroit.  He has not played yet this season, having missed all of it due to a concussion he suffered in 2009.
Charlotte Notes:
  • Sometimes I miss games due to awful things at work. This past Thursday, I had a chance-of-a-lifetime to work (and design the lights!) for the legendary B.B. King. Definitely bucket list worthy, and the concert was fantastic! (Photo - J. Propst)

    Today’s game is televised, and it should be a great crowd on hand at the arena!

  • Birthday boy Mike Murphy (he’s 23 today!) will be making his first start against Grand Rapids.  In 26 games played, he’s 13-10-1-0. (2.59 GAA, 0.913 SV%).
  • Checkers backup goalie John Muse is returning to Charlotte today following a two-game assignment in Florida where he played and won two games, including a 15-round shootout last night.
  • The Checkers lineup should be the same today as it was on Thursday against Hershey.  With forwards Jerome Samson and Brett Sutter still with the Hurricanes, and Chris Durno, Mathieu Roy, Riley Nash and Justin Shugg still injured, the Checkers are a bit thin up front.  New PTO signee Sean Dolan has looked promising as a fourth line center, and the other Florida reinforcements have been helpful as well.
  • Nicolas Blanchard and Drayson Bowman, who each left Thursday’s game with different injuries (such as bleeding profusely from the face thanks to being boarded) resumed practice and should be able to go today.
  • Unrelated to today’s game, something strange is afoot for the Checkers home game against Abbotsford on April 6.  Ticketmaster is still selling tickets to the game against the Heat, yet they have ALSO announced that the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert has been rescheduled for that date.  The Checkers haven’t made any kind of announcement regarding what is happening to the game, but clearly, it can’t happen on the same night as a rock concert.




Gametime:  3:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte TV:  Time Warner Cable 520
Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Grand Rapids Twitter: @griffinshockey@michaelzuidema

Referee:  Marcus Vinnerborg (#45)
Linesmen:  Paul Carnathan (#93), Mark Hamlett (#81)

Gameday: Charlotte at Rockford, and post-game notes from Grand Rapids

Charlotte at Grand Rapids – Checkers win 2-1

  • Official gamesheet is here.
  • Special teams were MUCH better, but the Checkers also did a good job staying out of the penalty box. The Checkers had two power play opportunities, and scored on one of them with Justin Faulk’s second period goal.  Their penalty kill unit was also successful, killing seven minutes of penalties that left the Checkers shorthanded.
  • The five-minute charging penalty on Chris Terry seemed pretty out of line.  It was an ugly play :16 seconds before the end of the second period, but the Griffins player who sent Terry even harder into the goaltender with a legal check from behind was equally responsible.  To call a charge, which indicates an INTENTIONAL hit is just absurd. What was even more asinine, for lack of a better word, was that during intermission, the officials decided to give Terry an additional game misconduct, so he didn’t return for the remainder of the game.
  • Justin Peters was fantastic in his first game back from injury.  Early on, he seemed a bit shaky and his rebound control was lacking, but after the first period, he found his footing and had a fantastic game.  It was a huge relief to see him bounce back after being out for over two weeks.
  • Jared Staal impressed me last night.  By no means was he a standout in the stats department (0 points, an even +/- rating, and 2 SOG), but he was hustling and skating hard and fast and controlling the puck when he had it.  The Checkers only skated with 11 Forwards (and in the third with Terry out, had only 10), so by default he probably got a bit more ice time, but he used it well.  Maybe all of the games Staal has been able to play lately are finally working out for him and giving him some more confidence on the ice.

Charlotte Checkers (7-4-1-0) at Rockford IceHogs (4-5-0-0)

  • Tonight marks the first of eight matchups with Rockford, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks.
  • For more on the Ice Hogs, here’s the summer preview interview I did with Third Man In.
  • The IceHogs have a bunch of guys on twitter:  Alec Richards, Brandon Segal, Chris DiDomenico and Jimmy Hayes (a former teammate of John Muse)
  • Kyle Beach, a first-round draft pick (No. 11 in 2008) may miss the game tonight for Rockford.  While he is still listed on the active roster, he sustained a significant upper body injury during a fight last weekend.  Beach, a left wing, has six points this year (3G, 3A) and 18 PIM.  You can see the fight here.
  • DEFENSEMEN  Brian Connelly leads the IceHogs in points with 10 (1G, 9A).
  • Brandon Segal, a center, has the most goals with five.
  • While the Checkers have been playing 3-in-3’s the past two weekend, the Rockford IceHogs should be well rested.  They haven’t played since October 29, a loss at home against Peoria.  Their only win in the past five games was on October 28, last Friday, at Peoria.
  • If you forget to type the G in IceHogs, you end up with a very unfortunate type-o.
  • The next two Checkers home games (which seem SO FAR AWAY on November 18 and 20) are against Rockford.

Gametime:  6:05 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio:  WBCN 1660 AM

Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Rockford Twitter: @goIceHogs

Referees: Jean Hebert (#43), Jarrod Ragusin (#42)
Linesmen: Aaron Mills (#23), Al Stensland (#98)

Gameday: Charlotte at Grand Rapids

Charlotte at Milwaukee

  • Another game with too many penalties.  The Admirals Roundtable has a better write-up than I will be able to do from watching the game on mute during a Boys II Men Concert (which was TOTALLY rad, I might add!)
  • Chris Durno scored his first goal as a Checker.  This is a guy who, the more I watch on and off the ice, the more I like.  He may become the most important off-season move the Hurricanes made last summer.  His leadership and skills on the ice are huge assets, not to mention, he seems like a pretty funny guy after the Movember draft the team did.
  • Ryan at the Admiral’s Roundtable, told me the biggest standouts of the game were Durno and Jerome Samson.  He said the game had the feel of playoff hockey, which is a comment I really like hearing.  The Checkers this year have impressed me with their control and maturity and playoff-team attitude.  The Milwaukee Admirals will continue to be a tough competitor against Charlotte this year, and I can’t wait to have the team in OUR barn later this month.
  • In some of the oddest routing ever, following the game in Milwaukee, the team traveled five-hours in a sleeper bus (I wonder who didn’t get a bunk?  Usually there are aren’t enough bunks to go around, in my road-crew sleeper bus experience, anyway).  They arrived in Grand Rapids at about 4 a.m. this morning.  Tonight, after the game, they drive back, another five-hours, to Rockford, Illinois, via almost the exact same route.

Charlotte Checkers (6-4-1-0) at Grand Rapids Griffins (5-5-0-0)

  • I’m a big fan of the team having a mythical beast as their mascot.  There’s something pretty awesome about a half lion/half eagle hockey mascot.
  • Tonight’s game marks the halfway point of the Checkers nine-game roadtrip.
  • The Griffins have often impressed me with their great use of social media.  Along with the Checkers, they are definitely one of the leaders in the AHL in this arena.
  • Unlike the Checkers who have had brutal travel lately, the Griffins should be well-rested.  Their last game was at home on Wednesday, a win against Lake Erie.
  • Defenseman Brendan Smith has been called up and sent down to Detroit throughout the first month of the season.  During a preseason game, he was suspended for a hit to the head of Chicago’s Ben Smith.  Basically, whenever Detroit has a game and Grand Rapids doesn’t, they call him up so he can be suspended, then send him back to Grand Rapids.  He has one more game to go on the five-game suspension.
  • Right Wing Chris Conner leads the Griffins with 15 points in 10 games (5G, 10A).
  • Gustav Nyquist, a left wing who has spent time with Detroit already this year, has nine points (4G, 5A).  You can follow him on twitter!
  • Justin Peters is expected to get the start tonight, his first since being injured in Charlotte seven games ago.
  • Joey McDonald, the number one goaltender in Grand Rapids, has spent most of his 11-year professional career in the Red Wings organization, but has NHL games with other clubs including the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.  In eight games this year, he’s 5-5-0-2 (2.09GAA, 0.934SV%).

Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio:  WFNZ 610

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

Referee: Darcy Burchell (#42)
Linesmen:  Jim Scarpace (#75), Chris Libett (#19)