Checkers flattened by Iowa Wild in OT.o

Though the Checkers record against the Iowa Wild this season is 4-0-1, the victories haven’t come easily. Two shoot out wins, and two regulation wins, the most recent of which was a six goal rally in the third after starting the period with a 3-1 deficit, were the precursors to tonight’s 4-3 overtime loss by the Charlotte Checkers at home.

Charlotte’s Coach Mark Morris was disappointed at the team’s effort level.

“I thought we were flat from the get go. I didn’t like our game at all. I thought our energy was low,” Morris said, “We had a lot of passengers.”

The home team got into penalty trouble early, with the first of six visits to the sin bin just three minutes into the game. Midway through the first period, the Checkers former captain, Michal Jordan, scored a shorthanded goal while teammate Brock McGinn sat in the box for a slashing penalty.

Rasmus Rissanen, who has missed nearly half of the season due to injury and is only three games back onto the roster, scored the second goal of the game from the point. It was his first goal of the season.

Four goals were scored in the third period, but only one of them was by the good guys, an even strength goal by Brock McGinn. Iowas’s Cristoph Bertschy scored first for the Wild, and Jordan Schroder scored two for his team, including the game tying goal that led to overtime.

Checkers Captain Derek Ryan, who had two assists in the game and shared the ice with two former Checkers captains, Michal Jordan and Brett Sutter of the Wild, spoke candidly about the Checkers record against Iowa this season, and the differences between Charlotte’s victories against them and tonight’s loss.

“The biggest difference between previous games and this one is that we’ve never quit. They’ve gotten some leads on us, and we’ve found ways to win, which good teams do,” Ryan continues, “Tonight it was almost the opposite where we were giving up a lead and not playing our best hockey for most of the whole 60 minutes.”

Michal Jordan, who is the Checkers former captain and made his first appearance in a Checkers sweater since February 19 of last season, said this year’s squad is one of the best Checkers team he’s been a part of.

“They have lots of good young players and great veteran guys…. It’s a great group and they should be real successful this year.”

Coach Morris said a lack of effort from Charlotte led to the Iowa victory.

“They deserved the win because they worked harder than we did.”

The Checkers face the Iowa Wild again on Thursday night at Bojangles Coliseum. Hopefully, the home team will have a better showing.

 

 

 

 

And now for a poll:

 

Brock McGinn, who is tied for the goal scoring lead with 10 this year, needs a hashtag, one as awesome as #Terryiffic, #Shuggernaut and #MACnificent.  Here are the nominations. What’s your pick?

 

  • #BROCKtacular
  • #OopsHeDidItMcGinn
  • #Brockalicious
  • #McGinneriffic

 

 

 

#MACnificent Checkers make it two in a row against Iowa.

After less than 24 hours since their dramatic comeback game against the Iowa Wild, the Checkers were able to defeat the visitors once again in a 2-1 shootout win.

The first period was a bit sluggish for both teams with few SOG and lots of dump-and-chase style hockey.

The second period brought the first point on the board, a power play goal from the point from Ryan Murphy, who made his second appearance with the Checkers this season after starting the year with the Carolina Hurricanes

The Wild rallied back early in the third period, tying the game with a breakaway goal from Zack Mitchell.

Charlotte’s Drew MacIntyre made glorious save after save, stopping all but one of the shots he faced, including every shot in the shootout. This was his second appearance between the pipes in as many goals, after coming into the game last night in relief of Rasmus Tirronen.

The overtime period, which is a shortened from last season five minutes of sudden-death three-on-three overtime, was filled with lots of back and forth play and two penalties, one for each team.

Ultimately, the winner came down to the shootout with the Checkers scoring two goals (Justin Shugg and Derek Ryan) and coming away with the win.

 

The number one star was clearly the Checkers Drew MacIntyre, even before he made all of the saves in OT and the shootout. After struggling with consistency early in the season, MacIntyre is building on each save and each win to put himself back on top.

“It’s been a frustrating season, to be honest. It’s been really frustrating,” MacIntyre said, “It’s nice to get this weekend. I haven’t been able to get in the groove. I have a good game and then the next game takes away from that…. My playing time has gone down and I’m not happy when that happens. I want to get back in the net and I want to show that I can do it consistently like I have my whole career.”

The Checkers return to home ice next Saturday and Sunday against the Ontario Reign, the Los Angeles Kings AHL team who, as the Manchester Monarchs, won last year’s Calder Cup.

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.

 

 

Grrrr. Checkers get dumped 7-2 by the Iowa Wild.

I sat in front of my computer for a long time debating what to write about re: this afternoon’s Checkers game.  And to be honest, I’m taking the cop out route and going to summarize it very briefly.  It was hard to watch… seven goals allowed by the Checkers, a weak offensive effort, and questionable defending led to seven goals allowed by the Checkers (though, if Brody Sutter hadn’t received a relatively bogus call late in the game for alleged interference, I believe the score would have been 6-3, but oh well, a loss is a loss.)

Charlotte Checkers defenseman Michal Jordan skates with the puck down the ice in the team's 7-2 loss to the Iowa Wild. (Photo - J. Propst)

Charlotte Checkers defenseman Michal Jordan skates with the puck down the ice in the team’s 7-2 loss to the Iowa Wild. (Photo – J. Propst)

For the second night in a row, Charlotte’s special teams struggled. The powerplay was only able to convert on one of four attempts, and the penalty kill allowed two goals on seven opportunities by the Wild.

Brendan Woods took a brutal hit from Raphael Bussieres. It was ugly.  Woods was thrown face first into the glass at an awkward angle and had to be helped off the ice.  The five-minute boarding call Bussieres received hardly seems enough for what could be a very serious injury, and it will be interesting to see if anything further comes from the AHL.  The Checkers Manny Malhotra took matters into his own hands and received a number of penalties, including a 10-minute instigating misconduct, a two-minute instigating minor and a five-minute fighting major.

Coach Jeff Daniels could not pinpoint one particular downfall of the game. “It’s more about being pros. You’ve got to bring it every night. You can’t pick and choose when you want to play.”

I’m one of those crazy people who likes to find the good in things even when the score is 7-2, so here are a few things I noticed:

  • I liked the physicality of the Checkers. Brendan Woods, before he was boarded, was incredibly physical in his play.  Though the scrums didn’t amount to a result on the score sheet, seeing the players stand up for one another and keep the game physical was a definite positive (Matt Corrente, Nicolas Blanchard and Manny Malhotra all had fighting majors).  While I rarely focus on fighting in hockey, I think the scrums that did happen came at appropriate times and showed passion and grit from the home team.
  • Manny Malhotra is pretty amazing to watch. Unfortunately for us, I don’t think he’ll be in Charlotte for long, so enjoy it while you can, Checkers fans!  He’s a NHL player, and plays with great passion and integrity. Like Dan Ellis last season, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see him on Checkers home ice, and wish him the best in the NHL.
  • This is the only time Checkers fans have to see the Iowa Wild at home this season. After this weekend’s games, I’m okay with that fact.
  • It’s early in the season. This was only the Checkers fourth game, and there is plenty of time to make adjustments. It’s too early to panic about a poor showing in two home games.
  • Checkers Alternate captain Chris Terry scored one of only two goals for Charlotte. In four games played, he leads the team with four points (3g, 1a). (Photo - J. Propst)

    Checkers Alternate captain Chris Terry scored one of only two goals for Charlotte. In four games played, he leads the team with four points (3g, 1a). (Photo – J. Propst)

    From my off-the-ice perspective, Nic Blanchard is an incredible alternate captain. So is Chris Terry. Obviously, only those in the room really know what it takes though to lead the Checkers. With the team three weeks into the regular season, they are still without a full time captain. Any picks for a potential successor to the awesome Brett Sutter?

 

Completely unrelated to the game observations:

  • I know I saw the new seamless glass last weekend at the Checkers open house, but seriously people, it’s amazing. I am so grateful to an organization that puts as much as they do into the fan experience as the Checkers do.
  • THERE IS AN ORGAN! I’m such a sucker for history and sports culture, that hearing an organ at a hockey game made me grin from ear to ear. OK, it’s probably a keyboard, and I wish it was being played in a prominent location (and please, don’t let it be just sound effect.. but I’m pretty sure it was live!).  But it’s awesome.  In my own grad school studies I came across a guy who wrote a dissertation on the history of the hockey organ, and I was fascinated. I admit it, I’m a nerd.
  • The new Checkers jerseys… wow. I like them even more in action. I miss the Hurricane warning flags, but they home white sweaters look so sharp on the ice.  Way to go for a great new design! (And despite swearing off the purchase of any more jerseys, I might have to invest in one!)
  • Nathan Beasley can rock a bow tie like nobody’s business. And no, he didn’t pay me to say that.
  • I apologize for wearing brand new hand knit socks to the arena. I was so excited by their beautiful Checkers colored stripes that I hoped would be lucky, and they failed me. I promise not to wear them again, for fear of bad karma the yarn may hold in it.
  • I am going to try and do a better job of writing over here. I’ve got close to a million ideas, but I’ve written approximately 120 pages of academic papers in the past few months, with more to go, so finding time to write about hockey is often a challenge. The good news is, I graduate on DECEMBER 14, so freedom is coming (and an epic party after the fact!)