Ulf Samuelsson hired as new Checkers coach

I haven’t read an official release yet, so I’m sure more details will follow but here’s what I know about the Charlotte Checkers new coach, Ulf Samuelsson.


  • He’s Swedish, and a former NHL defenseman. He had a 16-year playing career in the NHL.
  • He won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. One of his teammates there happens to be a guy named Ron Francis, who is the GM of the Hurricanes and of course makes hiring and firing decisions for the Canes organization.
  • He was also drafted by the Hartford Whalers, which is pretty awesome to see a coach come full circle like that!
  • This is his first stint at a head coach in North America. He’s been coaching professional hockey since 2005 – a season with the Hartford Wolfpack, five seasons as an assistant with the Arizona Coyotes and three seasons in New York with the Rangers.
  • He’s got two kids who grew up playing hockey, quite successfully, with the US National Team Development Program, so I’d guess he was coaching long before he first got a paycheck for it!
  • Though there are (sadly) no more Staal’s playing for the Checkers, his coaching prodigy includes an elder Staal by the name of Marc when he was with AHL Hartford.
  • The Arizona Coyotes are starting a Samuelsson collection. Both of Ulf’s sons are Coyotes. Phillip is a defenseman and Henrik is a right wing. Sister Victoria is playing NCAA D-1 hockey at Penn State.

Charlotte Checkers fall to San Antonio Rampage 5-2.

It’s been a rough week for Charlotte sports… The Checkers are in the midst of one of one of their longest losing streaks (and lost three games alone this weekend, including tonight). And the Panthers… well, let’s not talk about that.

The good news is regardless of the final score, Charlotte played a pretty good game tonight. Their defensive play was greatly improved (maybe the extra attention from Glen Wesley in Coach Morris’ absence is paying off). The team got a plethora of shots on goal (unfortunately, only two went in despite 11 power play opportunities).

Highlights of the game include:

  • A terrific performance by the Checkers defense (yes, despite allowing 4 goals (I’m not counting the empty netter).
  • MacIntyre had a strong third period in relief of Altshuller.
  • The Checkers had a lot of energy and hustle. There is a lot of hockey left this season, and the good guys are still locked in a strong playoff position.
  • Ice is slippery. On two occasions Rampage players ran into each other and crashed to the ice. The second crash involved San Antonio’s goaltender who was taken out after the whistle blew by his own teammate. It was gif worthy, and the Checkers responded with an amusing gif of the crash and burn.
  • Coach Geordie Kinnear did a great job filling in for Mark Morris, who missed his second straight game to injury. It was great seeing Glen Wesley fill in as an assistant coach and mentoring Charlotte’s young defensemen.





Sorry for the brevity of this post. It’s been one hell of a month for me. Work is insane. (Shameless plug: Come see Innovative Works at Charlotte Ballet… it got a rave review here: Usually I’m the writer. I’m not used to being written about… ).

I also realized that today is the sixth anniversary of Chasing Checkers. Wow. Six years!


I’m really excited about watching the good guys finish the season strong.

Checkers win! McGinn and Boychuk help Charlotte defeat San Jose Barracuda.

In a game where the Checkers were outshot by the visiting San Jose Barracuda 29-19, the home team was victorious. The highlights are plentiful. Zach Boychuk scored his first goal since March 22 of last season in Iowa. The 16 game drought is the longest in his career, and a true anomaly for the Checkers all-time leading goal scorer.


The last five minutes of the first period were action packed, with three goals scored by the Checkers in quick succession. Brock McGinn scored his first goal since returning to the Checkers roster from a stint in the NHL, and then a few minutes later, scored a second. Zach Boychuk scored the second goal of the game, and the eventual game-winner with 1:41 to go in the first period.


After the first period, the goal horn (which, by the way, is one of the best goal horns I’ve heard… it really is the perfect tone and timbre and is far superior to the noise we heard at TWCA!) was silent for the home team. With less than 14 seconds to go in the game, the Barracuda robbed Rasmus Tirronen of what could have been his first professional shutout. Tirronen, who the Hurricanes signed last spring to a one-year contract, has only six professional games to his credit, but continues to make great impressions with his confidence and skill. Tonight’s win was his first back-to-back start of the season, and his first (of hopefully many) back-to-back wins with the Checkers.


The game and post-game interviews left a lot of impressions on me.

First of all, Coach Morris seems to be exactly what this team needs. He’s a development coach in the truest sense of the word. He appears to be an excellent judge of skills and character, and has the ability to shape and groom good young players into excellent ones. I heard it in his analysis of the game and his athletes, and was impressed by his candid honesty about the players strengths and weaknesses. Here’s what he said about Zach Boychuk and whether the end of his scoring drought would lead to more goals:

“I sure hope so. He’s starting to throw his weight around and create space for himself. I’ve encouraged him to shoot more pucks and nobody’s going to ever condemn a guy for shooting the puck,” Coach Mark Morris continued, “He’s certainly a skilled guy but I think the more he gets involved and gets his juices flowing, the better he’s going to be and he’s going to play with more jump in his step.”

Zach Boychuk seemed (obviously) relieved to have the scoring jinx off his back, and has a realistic idea of what to expect tomorrow night when the Checkers face San Jose again:

“Staying engaged…. Sometimes it’s tough playing the same team in back-to-back nights. Sometimes you don’t come out as hard,” Boychuk continues, “[We’ve got to] come out hard. Hopefully we can keep this streak going.”


Boychuk on tonight’s game and continuing the momentum:

“We came out hard in the first period and kind of weathered the storm a little bit and put them on their heels. Once we were up three-nothing I feel like the ref was calling some penalties on us and we weren’t getting any of the breaks,” Boychuck says, “We’ve got to stay on the gas pedal a little more and we’ll try and focus on that tomorrow.”


You can stop reading now if you’re only interested in the game coverage… because from here on it’s purely editorial!



As I mentioned on Twitter before the game, tonight was the first time I got to see a game from start-to-finish at Bojangles Coliseum. A big promotion at work means I have even less evenings free, so it was a luxury to see a game on home ice. Charlotte is so lucky to have an amazing, historic rink like we do with so many great amenities. Sure, there’s no WiFi (though, it was just as bad at TWCA) and there aren’t any theatrical lighting effects (I’m a lighting designer by trade… I have to complain about the lack of special lights!) the things that actually matter are top notch. While the LED lights provide great coverage of the playing surface, and are a really nice, warm color temperature, it always seems dark right under the video board and I wish that could be fixed.



Some of my critiques are so minor I feel bad even mentioning them. Most are out of the control of the organization anyway, so there’s even less of a point talking about it…

  • The only thing I miss about TWCA is I had a place to sit, out of the way in the corner, but with enough space to set up my laptop and take notes. BoCo is a bit cramped, and that’s annoying, but I made do and got to see the game from a number of vantage points throughout the night.
  • I really hope the built-in ice system is fixed next off-season. The tank ice set up and the sub floor around the ice surface is annoying, mostly because I almost tripped walking up and down them tonight. Fingers are crossed whatever leak exists can be easily fixed.
  • I found some of the ribbon boards distracting, and lacking crucial information… like when both teams had a player in the box, there was no distinction between who was who. Such a minor, silly complaint, really!

The great stuff, because I’d like to end on a high note:

  • There’s an organ!!!!! (more organ music and less jock jams, please!).
  • There’s a goal horn that has serenaded championships and hockey games for the past 60 years. And it sounds amazing.
  • Sightlines! Awesome! There isn’t a bad seat in the house… and there were a LOT of bad seats uptown at TWCA.
  • The rink is less than two miles from my house, and my neighborhood sports bar where I watch so many NHL games is advertised on the boards. So meet me at Steamers, y’all. Their Wednesday night drink special is one of the best in the city!
  • Most of all, what I love about the “new” arena is there’s a hockey organization at home there that has embraced the history of the sport in Charlotte and all of the Checkers different incarnations, as evidenced by the amazing intro video and love of history. Charlotte is so lucky to have this team, and this organization.

It was a great first night for me… and I can’t wait to see many, many more wins at BoCo this season and beyond!


By the numbers : Counting down to November 7

I realize the AHL season started two weeks ago, but without a completed arena and the team being on the road the first month of the season, and having two full time jobs at the moment, it’s been easy for me to distance myself from the day-to-day happenings of the hockey season.

But every day when I drive by Bojangles coliseum and see construction activity, or late at night when they forget to turn off the neon lights on the concourse, I get more anxious and excited about the Checkers playing in my city again.

There are so many reasons Checkers fans have to be excited about the 2015-16 season, but a few in particular stick out at me. So without further ado…

3-0 – The Checkers three game winning streak they started the season. OK, so they lost their second game last weekend and again last night, but 3-0 is outstanding, and something to be proud of. This lineup has the potential to go far this season.

5 – Trevor Carrick, who wears number five was one of the biggest standouts last season as a rookie on a young team that struggled a lot in the win column. As a second year pro, I’m expecting great things from Mr. Carrick, and with five games under his belt and six points (3g, 3a), he’s on the right track.

2700 – The address of Bojangles Coliseum on E. Independence Blvd. This is going to be my favorite place to visit starting in November! The Checkers new(old) home is going to be filled with craft beer options, outstanding local food selections and best and most of all, the Checkers hockey team. And I can ride my bike to the arena, which is kind of amazing.

22 – Drew MacIntyre, the Checkers most excellent goaltender, is wearing my favorite number in hockey to honor his late uncle. – He was the first big off-season signing by the Carolina Hurricanes for the Charlotte Checkers, and will certainly prove to be the most important. MACnificent is one of the most skilled goaltenders in the AHL, and his experience in net will continue to benefit a young Checkers team (though, thankfully, not as young as last year’s squad).

6 – It’s the Checkers sixth AHL season in Charlotte, and I’m positive it’s going to be an outstanding one. With a new rink, new coach and an incredible roster the future is bright for the home team!

16 – Days until the #CheckersComeHome and start their season off right in Charlotte at the newly remodeled Bojangles Coliseum. November 7 is going to be a historic night!

341 – Mark Morris – This coach is the real deal. His coaching record in the AHL and NCAA levels speaks for itself, and won his 341st AHL game with the Checkers last weekend in Milwaukee. He’s a true development coach, and one who has helped players move on to Stanley Cup championships. What he has the potential to do in Charlotte and the Hurricanes organization is extraordinary. It might not come overnight, but change and growth is coming, and it’s going to be exciting to watch.

27 – Jake Cheelios, a second year pro in his first season with Charlotte, is someone to keep an eye one. After a four year career at Michigan State (go Spartans!) he had a strong rookie performance with the Chicago Wolves last season. He’s an offensively minded defenseman, and in his first three appearances with Charlotte, he has five points (1g, 4a).

28 – Phil DiGiuseppe is another second year pro, and in his first five games has seven points (3g, 4a). And he has 20 SOG. After a season last year where the team at times seems afraid of shooting the puck, it’s refreshing to see a more offensively minded team.

1956 – The year the Checkers (then named the Clippers, of the defunct Eastern Hockey League) first played at what is now called Bojangles Coliseum. Almost 60 years later, it’s going to be exciting to see a new, faster Checkers team take on their opponents in the arena that held the first professional hockey in the south.

The Charlotte Checkers future with coach Mark Morris: A teacher, mentor and development coach.

After Jeff Daniels was relieved of his coaching duties last spring, many anxiously awaited the name of his replacement. Mark Morris, who most recently served as an assistant for the Florida Panthers, was named by the Hurricanes last week as the Checkers new head coach.

Morris has been touted for his proven win record at the AHL level and as a leading coach in NCAA. The statistics I find even more impressive than winning percentage, however, is the ability to develop championship players at the AHL and NHL level.

Morris’ AHL coaching experience comes from the Manchester Monarchs, where he spent eight seasons, becoming the winningest coach in Manchester history. The Monarchs were a part of the LA Kings organization (the club is moving to Ontario, California next season to become the Reign). During Morris’ tenure in Manchester, many of his players graduated to the NHL and won two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014 (with the potential for more in the future.) A few of Morris’ former players in Manchester who won championships with the Kings include:

Jonathan Bernier, Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser, Martin Jones, Dwight King, Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Jonathan Quick, Tyler Toffoli, Slava Voynov, and Kevin Westgarth

Last month, the Monarchs won the AHL’s Calder Cup, and while Morris was no longer the coach in Manchester, his fingerprints are all over the 2015 championship (just like they are on the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cups) through the players he spent eight seasons developing.

During Morris’ tenure in Manchester, the NHL club changed coaches a number of times. From Morris’ winning record with the Monarchs, it’s shows that he was able to adapt to new coaching styles from the parent club, and continue to develop players in the vision of the Kings organization. Earlier today, Morris affirmed it would be a continuing trend. “We’re going to play Carolina’s systems, there’s no doubt about that.”

When asked about his experience with Manchester, Coach Morris was very candid.

“Winning is hard. You just can’t flick a switch. It takes time. You’ve got to work on fundamentals of the game. There’s no secret to it other than the fact that you have to be thorough,” Morris said. “Without good players, it’s hard to make it happen, but you can take players that perhaps don’t have the confidence and pull them up and raise them to another level. You have to keep people accountable and responsible and make them realize that, in the end, it’s how hard they play for one another. We can wish winning to happen, but in the end good teams win because they play hard for each other.”

Now – a more personal explanation of why I’m excited about Morris’ upcoming debut in Charlotte. I was born in L.A. I’m a Kings fan, through and through, so clearly, I like seeing someone with ties to that organization come to Charlotte. But more than that, when I look at the past five or six seasons in the Kings organization at both the AHL and NHL levels, I see a pattern of success and growth. A winning NHL team doesn’t always equal a winning AHL team, or vice versa. With the way many teams develop prospects, often the NHL team may struggle while the AHL thrives with young talent on their way up. The reverse of course, can also be true, but during Morris’ time in Manchester, both the AHL and NHL squads in the Kings organization were thriving, despite being thousands of miles apart.

Morris is a development coach. It’s something I believe the Checkers has lacked over the past five seasons. Morris is a teacher, a mentor, a true young man’s coach. From his days in the NCAA and AHL, he has learned how to work with young players.

“What I’ve learned over time is that people develop at different rates. You can never count a kid out,” Morris said, “Sometimes you may think a guy’s career has a ceiling, but I’ve learned over time that you just have to be patient as an organization, specifically as a coach. “

Can this be something in the Checkers future? I believe so. With the continued strong relationship between Charlotte and Raleigh and a new vision from Coach Morris, the future looks bright.

“The important part is creating that expectation that we’re going to win,” Morris said, “We expect to win and we’ll find ways to make that happen. There’s no shortcuts.”

I can’t wait until November 7… can you?

Despite return of three veterans, Charlotte Checkers fall 4-1 to Toronto Marlies

In a disappointing loss for the home team, the Charlotte Checkers lost to the Toronto Marlies in a game that was much closer than the 4-1 final score may allude to. Toronto had goals from Josh Leivo, Connor Brown, Carter Ashton and an empty netter by Viktor Loov, late in the final minutes of the game.

The Checkers lone goal came from Zach Boychuk,  his 104th goal of his career in Charlotte, and tied the all-time lead with Chris Terry.

The Marlies have earned at least one point in each of their last ten games, including tonight’s defeat of the Checkers. Thanks to their recent play, Toronto has climbed from near the bottom of the standings to playoff contention.

Tonight’s game saw the return of Checkers veteran Zach Boychuk and Captain Michal Jordan, who both have had extensive call-ups with the Carolina Hurricanes and returned to the Checkers lineup while on the recent Midwest division roadtrip.

Coach Jeff Daniels recognized the contributions Jordan makes to his Checkers team.

“It’s huge. It takes some pressure off the other guys,” Daniels said, “[Jordan] plays in all situations against top lines.  He’s a leader on this team and well-respected in that locker room and a guy who can slow things down out there and make the right play.”

Drew MacIntyre, who faced his former Marlie teammates for the first time since signing with the Carolina Hurricanes organization over the summer, reflected on what having veterans like Zach Boychuk and Michal Jordan mean to a struggling Checkers team.

“It’s a huge addition. Chucky scored tonight. It’s no secret we’ve had a lot of trouble scoring goals, to get a guy like that’s gonna help a lot,” MacIntyre said,  “MJ, like I said, he’s poised. We need him.

With exactly half of the season ahead for the Checkers 38 games played, 38 remain), I’m going with a glass half-full attitude, and believe that the home team can turn things around just as the Marlies have in their past month of play.

Carolina Panthers win, Charlotte Checkers lose: That sums up Charlotte sports today

I only go to about one Panthers game a year, and this season, it ended up being tonight.  Admittedly, I’m not much of a football fan, but my love of sports and sports fan always sucks me into a game, and today was no exception. The energy at the stadium was electric (despite the rainy, cloud-filled day!), but nothing compares to a good hockey game! I love the speed, the athleticism of the skaters, the excitement of a one goal game and of course, the fact it’s played on a sheet of ice.

That being said, I missed the majority of the Checkers game, so I can’t write a fair recap of the event.  I will, instead, jot down some brief observations, and a few great quotes the coach and players shared after the game.

  • I guess I should start by stating that the Charlotte Checkers lost at home to the Texas Stars 4-1. The Checkers led after the first two periods, but Texas took advantage in the third and scored four (including an empty netter) to decimate the home team.
  • The third period was a tough one to watch as a Checkers fan. Before the holiday break, the Checkers were playing some of the best hockey of their season. They took home five of eight points in the week before Christmas, and beat teams much better than they are (according to the standings, anyway). Tonight’s third period was pretty sloppy. They mishandled the puck, couldn’t control the play, and were just the lesser team on the ice.
  • This was John Muse’s fourth start in a row. Checkers regular Drew MacIntyre spent his holiday break playing for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup, but Muse was confident coming into this stretch. “You know, we practice every day, so it’s not like you sit on the bench and do nothing in between starts,” Muse said, “We both are out there every day doing specific drills to get us ready for when we do play.”
  • Tonight was the first time I’d seen Austin Levi skate in about a year. He’s spent the majority of this season in California, playing for the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. He got a lot of ice time, and I was impressed with his play after such a long absence from Charlotte. He’s filled out a lot over the past year, and seemed much more confident than the last time he skated for the Checkers.  Coach Jeff Daniels reflected on Levi’s play, “It’s a bit of an adjustment coming in at this level to adapt to the speed.  He [Levi] skates well, he’s a big body. He’s trying to use the body, be physical out there,” Daniels continues, “He’s got good reach. It’s just a matter of making harder plays, faster plays, and reading the situation.”
  • The Checkers, who after an impressing stretch in December had climbed a few spots in the standings, are now tied for 30th place with the Iowa Wild.

Despite Drew MacIntyre’s Mr. Miyagi like glove saves, Checkers lose in the shootout to San Antonio

In a game that saw the two most experienced goaltenders to ever play for the Checkers face each other, it was a pretty uneventful matchup until a huge hit by Trevor Carrick led to a pair of fights that changed the momentum of the game for the Checkers.

Checkers rookie Dennis Robertson took on the Rampage’s Garrett Wilson while Kyle Hagel fought Connor Brickley.

Hagel, who as of tonight, took over as the AHL leader in major penalties, was impressed with the physical play of his rookie teammates.

“Dennis Robertson gets in there and just gets the meat tenderizer on that guys face,” Hagel said, “I loved it.”

With momentum and the hometown crowd on the side of the Checkers, a few minutes latelr, Jared Staal fed the puck to Trevor Carrick, who scored a game tying goal, his first as a pro.

Late in the period, Chad LaRose scored his second goal in two nights, and the team’s second power play in as many nights as well.

San Antonio pulled Dan Ellis, and with 17 seconds to go, the Rampage were able to tie the game.

Overtime, as it always seems to be, was a nail biting experience.  Rasmus Rissanen was charged with a tripping penalty, and the Checkers excellent penalty kill combined with Drew MacIntyre’s quick glove kept the home team in the game.

The Checkers and Rampage ended up going into an eight-round shootout, with both goalies stopping nearly every shot.  Finally, Alex Petrovik, the Rampage’s eighth skater, got a puck passed MacIntyre, and the Checkers walked away with a single point.

Charlotte faces San Antonio again on Sunday afternoon.

Checkers play another Admirals team, lose in OT.

It only took 25 seconds for Justin Shugg to score the first goal of the game against Norfolk’s goaltender Yann Danis. It was Shugg’s 50th career AHL goal, and his seventh in just 12 games after starting the season injured. Despite missing eight games, he is still second on the team in goals scored this season.

Coach Jeff Daniels has been emphasizing the Checkers need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey every game, and they nearly did that.  Charlotte led for over 58 minutes of the game, but it wasn’t enough, because in less than two minutes, late in the third period, and two quick goals by Nic Kerdiles , the harder-working Norfolk Admirals were able to tie up the score and take the game into overtime. (Kerdiles, by the way, was credited with 11 SOG for Norfolk)

John Muse faced 50 shots by the Admirals, but it was the final one, with 7.8 seconds to go in overtime, that got the win for Norfolk.  The Checkers were outshot 44-18 in regulation and only got two shots off during the nearly seven minutes of overtime.

Charlotte had five power play opportunities, but were unsuccessful scoring on any of them.

“We got two timely goals, but other than that we didn’t create much offense,” Daniels said, “The power play was awful. They outworked us and they deserved the win.”

  • The point Charlotte earned in the OT loss at home was the fifth point in the past four days.
  • The Checkers have gotten seven points (out of eight) in their past four games against (both) Admirals teams at home.
  • The Checkers will face a team named something OTHER than the Admirals on Saturday night at home.

Thanks to #MACnificent play by Drew MacIntyre, Checkers win back-to-back games against Milwaukee Admirals

On this final day of Thanksgiving weekend, I’m grateful for many things, but especially a second Checkers win in a row, and the piece of leftover pumpkin pie I’m enjoying while I write.

Pumpkin pie is delicious. I'm thankful for this and a second Thanksgiving weekend Checkers win.
Pumpkin pie is delicious. I’m thankful for this and a second Thanksgiving weekend Checkers win.

With a goal by Justin Shugg, the Checkers 3-2 shootout victory over the Milwaukee Admirals led to their first back to back wins of the 2014-15 season, thanks to stellar goaltending from first star Drew MacIntyre, who I gave the hashtag #MACnificent to following another outstanding performance.

The game was full of firsts for the Checkers.  It was their first win of the season after trailing at the end of the first period, their first trip to the shootout, and their first back-to-back wins.

The Checkers, who reached overtime for only the third time this season, faced the three-on-three portion for the first time. A new rule in 2014 saw OT being lengthened to a seven minute period, with the first four minutes being 4-on-4 and the final three 3-on-3 hockey. The formula for what skaters to play was constantly changing between two defensemen and one forward, or two forwards and one defenseman.

“It’s exciting. It’s crazy on the bench. You’re trying to see f you want to go two D or two forwards.  It was our first experience with it but for me, it’s exciting,” Daniels continued, “We won the game in a shootout, but I’d rather see the game won four-on-four or three on three.”

Beau Schmitz, who was back in the lineup for his second game in a row after sitting out since October 25, saw a lot of ice time during the afternoon matchup, and contributed an assst on AJ Jenks game-tying goal in the third period.  His perspective on Justin Shugg’s recent play, and game-winning shootout goal is one shared by Checkers players and fans a like.

“He’s [Shugg] been playing great. He’s a benefit to have back in the lineup. Goal scoring and getting pucks out.”

(Editors note: Shugg was standing nearby when this was said, and even after Shugg chirped Schmitz a bit, Beau stayed positive, so it must be true!)

Schmitz, like all of the Checkers players, experienced three-on-three OT hockey for the first time in his career.

“It’s a bit different. It’s exciting,” Schmitz said, “I haven’t even watched something like that before.”

Drew MacIntyre, who stopped all five of the shots he faced in extra time and then perfect in the shootout, had an intense seven minutes of overtime, including the first minute that left the Checkers short handed to a late third period penalty by AJ Jenks.

“It’s not ideal, not good for the old heart,” MacIntyre sad with a smile, “It was a good test for us. Our PK wasn’t good enough last night. It was a good test for us. We played well tonight.”

MacIntyre was glad Charlotte had the first try at three-on-three OT hockey, but it’s not his first choice for ending a hockey game.

“Obviously, I like it in the playoffs where you just keep playing. That’s hockey. That’s intense…. I like overtime. I like shootouts when I win, but when I lose I hate them.”

Other Admiral thoughts (get it? Admiral thoughts?)

  • The Checkers are in the midst of a four-game home winning streak, including three games against Admirals teams (of Norfolk and Milwaukee, combined).
  • Maybe, with the recent Checkers home-streak against Admirals teams, the Checkers can get the league to change all the other teams to the Admirals. But then it would be like the Harlem Globetrotters facing the same team every night, but they have a great win-streak going, so I might be onto something.