Sunday, April 20, 2014

Zach Boychuk captures AHL goal-scoring title in Checkers final game of the season

Having been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention the night before, the Charlotte Checkers lacked any kind of spark in Rockford on Saturday night on their way to a 7-3 loss in the final game of the regular season. 

Although he didn't score in the game, Checkers forward Zach Boychuk was able to lock up the Willie Marshall Award, given annually to the AHL's top goal-scorer. 

Boychuk captured the title with 36 goals in 69 games for Charlotte. He also finished second in the league with 74 points and was named a Second Team AHL All-Star at left wing. The 24-year old native of Airdrie, Alta., also recorded one goal and three assists in 11 NHL games with Carolina this season. 

Texas Stars Colton Sceviour and Travis Morin tied for second in the league with 32 goals each.

The 36 goals were 13 more than Boychuk had ever scored in a season and set a new franchise record for the Checkers.

Victor Rask, Ryan Murphy and Brody Sutter took care of the scoring for the Checkers on Saturday. Charlotte, as its have several times this month already, had trouble staying out of the box and in this one and ultimately allowed a franchise-record  five power-play goals en route to the loss.

John Muse, who made 30 saves, dropped to 1-6-0 in the month of April.

After one period of play the game was tied, 2-2 thanks to goals by Rask and Murphy. However early in the second period Rockford scored twice on a double minor for high sticking committed by Phil Di Giuseppe. 

Less than a minute into the third, Rocking took a three-goal lead. Later the added two more power-play goals. Sutter scored with roughly seven minutes to play in the game, but its fate had long-since been decided. 

Notes: This April (1-6-0) goes down as the worst month in Checkers history in terms of percentage of possible points earned (14.3). November was the second-worst at 18.2 percent (2-9-0), while March (12-4-0) was the second-best (75.0). … Sutter’s goal was his 50th professional point. … Boychuk led the Checkers with six shots, while Murphy and Aaron Palushaj each had five. … Forward Sergey Tolchinsky (no shots, minus-1) and defenseman Dennis Robertson (three shots, even) each made their professional debuts. … Matt Marquardt, Jared Staal and Mark Flood were healthy scratches. … Philippe Cornet, Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods missed the game due to injuries.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Charlotte Checkers eliminated from playoff contention


Blame it on a four-point month of November. Blame it on losing Justin Peters to the NHL early in the season. Blame it on a difficult schedule down the stretch.

Which ever reason you choose, the final result is the same: The 2014 Charlotte Checkers will not be playing in this year's playoffs. A 5-1 loss to the Admirals in Milwaukee on Friday, combined with Oklahoma City earning a point in its game with Iowa, sealed Charlotte's fate with one regular season game remaining.

A 12-4-0 mark in the month of March catapulted the Checkers back into playoff contention, but a 1-4-0 showing in April was their final undoing.

Ryan Murphy scored the lone goal for the Checkers with 11 seconds left in the second period to make it 4-1 and John Muse stopped 29 of 34 shots.

Although the final result of today's game with Rockford will have no playoff implications, there's still a few good reasons to watch.

With 36 goals this season, Checkers forward Zach Boychuk is four ahead of Texas' Travis Morin for tops in the AHL. A goal would all but lock up that scoring title.

There's also the strong possibility that rookies like Sergey Tolchinsky, Phil Di Giuseppe and Dennis Robertson will all see extended time on the ice after spending time as healthy scratches as the team tried to make its way into the top eight in the Western Conference.

Notes: The Checkers were a perfect 13-for-13 on the penalty kill against Milwaukee this season, including a 2-for-2 effort in this game. … Muse has played in each of the Checkers’ last 10 games, including nine starts. …  Matt Marquardt played his 400th professional game … Palushaj and Terry led the Checkers with five shots on goal apiece. … Zach Boychuk and Victor Rask finished with plus-1 ratings. … Phil Di Giuseppe, Sergey Tolchinsky and Dennis Robertson were healthy scratches. … Philippe Cornet, Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods missed the game with injuries.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Checkers fall to Grand Rapids, now stand two points out of playoffs with two games to play


The Checkers put 36 shots on Tom McCollum on Sunday and the Grand Rapids goaltender turned away all but one on his way to recording a 2-1 win in Charlotte's final regular season game at Time Warner Cable Arena. 

With just two games remaining, the Checkers -- who entered Sunday in ninth placed in the Western Conference -- no longer control their own destiny when it comes to the playoffs. They currently sit two points behind Oklahoma City (who has a game in hand) for for the eighth and final playoff spot.  

Philippe Cornet scored the Checkers’ only goal in support of John Muse, who finished the night with 25 saves.

The Checkers will now do some scoreboard watching, while they wait to conclude their regular season schedule with a pair of road games on Friday and Saturday.

“The whole game we did everything we could but put the puck in the net,” Checkers coach Jeff Daniels told team writer Paul Branecky following the game. “It’s disappointing because I thought the effort was there and the guys gave everything they had.”

Cornet opened the scoring in the first for the Checkers, but the Griffins' 
Cory Emmerton countered after Charlotte was hit with its third minor penalty of the period with 39 seconds to play. 

Trevor Parks scored the game-winner in the second when he found himself in the right place at the right time to gather a blocked shot and send it past Muse.  

Checkers forward, Aaron Palushaj, who suited up for the first time in eight games after suffering an injury three weeks ago, hit the post with a shot in the period.

McCollum, who stopped 14 Checkers shots in the third period, finished the game ranked third in the AHL with a 2.28 goals-against average. 

A Griffins' boarding penalty led to the game's final 10 seconds being played 6-on-4 (with Muse off for an extra attacker). However, the Grand Rapids goaltender held strong.   

“It’s just one of those nights where their goalie was standing on his head and it just wasn’t going in for us,” Checkers forward Zach Boychuk, who was reassigned to the team from Carolina on Saturday, told Branecky. “We battled as hard as we could right to the end and just weren’t able to get that equalizer.”

Between Sunday and the Checkers' next game against Milwaukee on Friday, Charlotte players will likely be keeping an eye on Wednesday's Stars-Barons showdown.  

“You’ve got to look at it like we’re still alive and still in it,” Boychuk told Branecky. “There are still two games left and obviously we’re going to need a lot of help, but we’ll see what happens in the next couple of days. “Hopefully those games this weekend mean something.”

Notes: John Muse (two shutouts) allowed two goals in 179 minutes against the Griffins this season. Emmerton’s goal ended his shutout streak at 139 minutes and 21 seconds. … Sean Dolan left the game after a collision with Ryan Murphy in the first period, but was able to return with a protective cage around his face. … Phil Di Giuseppe, Matthew Pistilli, Sergey Tolchinsky and defenseman Dennis Robertson were healthy scratches … Nicolas Blanchard, Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods missed the game due to injury.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Zach Boychuk reassigned to Charlotte Checkers


Per team release...

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned forward Zach Boychuk to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). Boychuk was recalled by the Hurricanes on on Friday and skated 15:24 in the team’s 2-1 win last night at Detroit.

Boychuk (5’10”, 185 lbs.) has totaled four points (1g, 3a) in 11 NHL games this season. The Airdrie, Alb., native ranks first in the AHL in goals (36) and second in points (72) in 66 games played for Charlotte. Boychuk, 24, is also first in the AHL in power-play goals (18) and was named to the AHL’s Second All-Star team for the 2013-14 season. Carolina’s first-round selection, 14th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Boychuk has totaled nine goals and 15 assists (24 points) in 95 career NHL games with Carolina, Pittsburgh and Nashville.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sergey Tolchinsky joins Charlotte Checkers

According to Carolina Hurricanes Senior Director of Communications, Mike Sundheim, rookie forward Sergey Tolchinsky has been assigned to the Charlotte Checkers.


Sault St. Marie's exit from the OHL playoffs on Tuesday night cleared the way for Tolchinsky to join the Checkers. The 19-year-old 5-foot-9-inch left-shot winger finished his OHL season 10th in the league in scoring with 91 points (31 goals, 60 assists).

Here's a story from the News & Observer's Chip Alexander about Tolchinsky's signing.

He also did this...



Zach Boychuk recalled to Carolina Hurricanes


Per team release...

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled forward Zach Boychuk from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL) on an emergency basis.

Boychuk (5’10”, 185 lbs.) has totaled four points (1g, 3a) in 10 NHL games this season. The Airdrie, Alb., native ranks first in the AHL in goals (36) and second in points (72) in 66 games played for Charlotte. Boychuk, 24, is also first in the AHL in power-play goals (18) and was named to the AHL’s Second All-Star team for the 2013-14 season. Carolina’s first-round selection, 14th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Boychuk has totaled nine goals and 15 assists (24 points) in 95 career NHL games with Carolina, Pittsburgh and Nashville.

The Hurricanes take on the Detroit Red Wings tonight in the penultimate game of their 2013-14 season (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports Carolinas, Hurricanes Radio Network).

---

Again, Boychuk broke the news of his recall via Twitter: 


As first pointed out by Checkers team writer, Paul Branecky, it's been a busy couple weeks for the Checkers' forward and AHL's leading goal scorer. In April he earned the AHL's Player of the Month Award, was named to the AHL's Second All-Star Team and was recalled to Carolina twice. 

Boychuk's tweet referenced one he sent out earlier this month about he and Chris Terry's plan to play in four games in four days (one for the Hurricanes and then three straight for the Checkers from last Thursday to Sunday). 

Here's some more from last night's post-game interviews. Boychuk finished the 3-0 win over Grand Rapids with a goal and an assist. 

Checkers coach Jeff Daniels on Boychuk being named to the AHL's Second All-Star Team...

"I don’t know how many times I’ve talked about how consistent he’s been all year. He’s been a go-to guy, a guy who steps up un big games. Chris (Terry) could have been just as easily on one of those two teams too. Those two guys have been our horses all year. It’s good to see Chucky get recognized."

Boychuk on receiving the award...

"Yeah it’s great to get nominated for that. It’s a pretty big award and I’ve got to give credit to my teammates that have helped me and have supported me throughout the season. I think the last few years have kind of been up and down. To have a couple things like that this year feels pretty good."

Boychuk on the difference between last night's game and playing four games in four days...

"Yeah, I had a little more energy tonight, that’s for sure. It’s nice to have a couple days between games instead of getting right back at it."

Terry on Boychuk's award...

"I thought he should have been named to the (first-team), but it’s nice to see anytime a teammate gets recognized. He’s got really good numbers this year and he’s scored a lot of big goals for us."

Terry on if he was disappointed to not be named to either All-Star team himself...

"Not really, I’ll be disappointed if we don’t make the playoffs. That’s one goal that can kind of make everything else numb the pain. We’re not worried about it. I’m just focusing on my game and doing my job." 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry come through again, as Checkers blank Grand Rapids to stay in playoff race


It’s become a familiar sight.

With the Checkers on the power play, Zach Boychuk will slide down to an open section of ice, usually near the opposing goaltender’s left circle.

There he’ll wait with his left-handed shot already coiled.

That’s where Chris Terry comes in. The veteran forward spends a good deal of time running the point when Charlotte has a man advantage. There, his job is to take the shot if it’s there, or reverse the puck quickly to Boychuk if it’s not.

On Thursday, Terry chose to send the puck to Boychuk and the AHL’s leading goal scorer didn’t miss, netting his 36th of the season to give the Checkers a 3-0 lead in the first period on their way to a win by that same score over the Grand Rapids Griffins in front of 6,709 at Time Warner Cable Arena.

“It just seems that we have chemistry,” said Terry who has assisted on nine of Boychuk’s 18 power-play goals this season. “We always know where each other is going to be. Tonight, I just knew that he’d be coming around the net and all I had to do was put it there for him.”

The win was huge for the Checkers (37-33-3), who entered the day in 10th place in the Western Conference with just four games remaining. It temporarily vaulted them back into 8th place with Rochester (33-27-10) not playing.

The win also snapped an ill-timed losing streak for the Checkers, who for the first time in franchise history, failed to secure a point in a stretch of three games in three days this past weekend.

After taking the last three days to recover, the Checkers came out of the gates flying on Thursday.

Victor Rask (1 goal, 1 assist) put the team up 1-0 four minutes and seven seconds in, when he batted home his 15th goal of the season. Just over six minutes later, Brett Sutter matched the rookie’s output with his 15th goal as well to put Charlotte up two.

After the Griffins’ David McIntyre was sent to the box for boarding Michal Jordan at the 12:23 mark, Boychuk and Terry went to work.

“The guys kind of make fun of (Terry and I),” said Boychuk, who was named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team earlier in the day. “We’re pretty good friends and they call us the Sedin sisters, so we try to make plays like them – maybe note quite as pretty – but it was nice to get another one to go.”

Terry credited Brett Sutter with coming up with the nickname a few years back, but claimed Boychuk misspoke.

“I don’t think it’s the Sedin sisters,” Terry said. “It’s the Sedin twins. I think (Boychuk) switched the lingo on that one.”

John Muse, who surrendered a heartbreaking goal to the Oklahoma City Barons in the final game of the Checkers three-in-three set this past Sunday, wasn’t letting Thursday’s points slip away.

He finished the night with 30 saves, to record his fifth shutout of the season and pulled even with Justin Peters for the Checkers all-time lead in clean sheets, with seven.

The Checkers, who will play the Griffins (45-22-6) again on Sunday afternoon, now have some scoreboard watching to do, with the eighth-placed Americans set to play Toronto on Friday and Hamilton on Saturday.

“You do look at the standings to see where you’re at,” said Boychuk. “But we need to focus on what we can control. We took care of business tonight and now we’ve got to have two good practices this weekend and be ready to go again on Sunday.”

Notes: Aaron Palushaj (upper-body injury), Nicolas Blanchard (undisclosed) and the newly reassigned Ryan Murphy (day-to-day) all missed the game due to injuries. ... John Muse is one shutout away from tying Justin Peters for the Checkers' most in a single-season with six. ... Phil Di Giuseppe appeared in his second-straight game for the Checkers, finishing the night with one shot on goal. “He shows good speed,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels. “Even in practice, the way he handles the puck, you can tell he wants it on his stick. He has the ability to make plays. He has a good shot and hopefully that can translate into some offense for us. He’s come in during a tough time of the year, where points are important, and I thought he was better tonight than he was in his first game and I didn’t mind him in his first game.”


  

Game 73 Preview: Grand Rapids Griffins at Charlotte Checkers


Puck Drop: Thursday, 7:00 p.m.

TV/Radio info: Video TWC Ch. 323 / Audio 730 AM Charlotte

Records: Checkers 36-33-3, Griffins 45-21-6

An Oklahoma City Barons goal with 35 seconds remaining in regulation locked up a pointless run of three games in three days for the Charlotte Checkers this past Sunday. The Checkers had rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the game and skated off the ice shell-shocked.

The three straight regulation losses dropped the Checkers from seventh place, safely in the Western Conference playoffs, to a second row seat (10th) on the outside looking in. With four games remaining, they'll, in all likelihood, need to win out and get some help from seventh-seeded Oklahoma City (two points up with a game in hand) and eighth-seeded Rochester (one point up with two games in hand).

“We had a talk after that game,” Checkers captain Brett Sutter told team writer Paul Branecky on Wednesday. “We can’t let it get us down. We took the night to sleep on it and let it sink in. We’ve been fighting for the last month or so here to give ourselves a chance and we’ve done that, so if we get back to the way we were playing 10 days ago we’ll be alright.”

Both Chris Terry and Zach Boychuk, who played with the Carolina Hurricanes last Thursday before being reassigned to Charlotte, played four games in four days. Each elected to play in Friday’s game in San Antonio despite being told by coach Jeff Daniels that they could sit it out.

Branecky has a nice story up about the decisions that led up to Boychuk and especially Terry playing in all four games.

Reinforcements on the way?

With Sault St. Marie exiting the OHL playoffs on Tuesday night, Charlotte could have a few extra bodies on hand in forward Sergey Tolchinsky, who finished his OHL season 10th in the league in scoring with 91 points (31 goals, 60 assists) at the age of 19 and, perhaps, defenseman Tyler Ganly, who finished the season a plus-34 with 3 goals and 18 assists in 67 games.

Boychuk named to AHL's Second All-Star Team

(Per AHL release)

A year after bouncing among three different NHL organizations, Zach Boychuk has had a standout 2013-14 campaign with Charlotte, leading the AHL with 35 goals and ranking second with 70 points while skating in 65 games for the Checkers. The CCM/AHL Player of the Month for March, Boychuk is also first in the league with 17 power-play goals and has contributed one goal and three assists in 10 NHL matches with Carolina. A 24-year-old native of Airdrie, Alta., Boychuk was the 14th overall pick by the Hurricanes in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Notes: In Sunday’s loss Boychuk scored his 34th and 35th goals of the season to set a new Checkers franchise record for a single season. Boychuk has a good chance to earn the Willie Marshall award as the AHL's top goal scorer. He has a three-goal lead with two of top five scorers currently in NHL … The newly signed Phil Di Giuseppe (ranked as the Hurricanes No. 9 prospect by hockeysfuture.com) made his professional debut on Sunday and recorded two shots on goal and two penalty minutes. Di Giuseppe skated on Charlotte's top line with Brett Sutter and Chris Terry. Whether he sees the ice on Thursday likely depends on the health of Aaron Palushaj (upper-body injury) who wore a red non-contact jersey during the team skate on Wednesday morning. … Forward Nicolas Blanchard left Sunday’s game with an injury midway through the third period and is questionable. … Wednesday was a good day for the Griffins, who had defenseman Ryan Sproul (10 goals, 21 assists, 31 points) and forward Teemu Pulkkinen (30 goals, 25 assists, 55 points) named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team.

Probable lines:

Chris Terry-Brett-Sutter-Matthew Pistilli
Philippe Cornet-Victor-Rask-Zach Boychuk
Phil Di Giuseppe-Brody Sutter-Justin Shugg
Matt Marquardt-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal

Michal Jordan-Danny Biega
Keegan Lowe-Mark Flood
Rasmus Rissanen-Matt Corrente

John Muse
Mike Murphy

Healthy scratches:

Ryan Murphy (participated in pre-game skate), Dennis Robertson

Injured/out: 

Aaron Palushaj (upper-body), Nicolas Blanchard (lower body), Greg Nemisz, Brendan Woods

A look at the playoff race: 

source: www.theahl.com (04/09 5:00 p.m.)



Hurricanes prospect Zach Boychuk named to AHL's Second All-Star Team


Per AHL release...

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today the 2013-14 AHL First and Second All-Star Teams, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities.

2013-14 AHL First All-Star Team
Goaltender
- Jake Allen, Chicago Wolves (49gp, 30-16-3, 2.09gaa, .926sv%, 6so)
Defense - T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies (70gp, 22+44=66pts., 12 PPG, 4 GWG)
Defense - Adam Clendening, Rockford IceHogs (70gp, 12+44=56pts., +7, 19 PP pts.)
Left Wing - Mike Hoffman, Binghamton Senators (51gp, 30+37=67pts., +11, 12 PPG)
Center - Travis Morin, Texas Stars (62gp, 31+50=81pts., +13, 10 PPG)
Right Wing - Colton Sceviour, Texas Stars (54gp, 32+31=63pts., +11, 13 PPG, 6 GWG)

2013-14 AHL Second All-Star Team
Goaltender - Petr Mrazek, Grand Rapids Griffins (30gp, 22-7-1, 2.03gaa, .927sv%, 3so)
Defense - Adam Almquist, Grand Rapids Griffins (69gp, 4+48=52pts., +9, 27 PP pts.)
Defense - Brad Hunt, Oklahoma City Barons (62gp, 11+38=49pts., +9, 9 PPG)
Left Wing - Zach Boychuk, Charlotte Checkers (65gp, 35+35=70pts., 17 PPG, 4 GWG)
Center - Andy Miele, Portland Pirates (65gp, 27+42=69pts., 33 PP pts.)
Right Wing - Spencer Abbott, Toronto Marlies (64gp, 17+52=69pts., +10, 9 PPG)

Here's what the AHL had to say about Boychuk...

Zach Boychuk, Left Wing (Charlotte Checkers):
A year after bouncing among three different NHL organizations, Zach Boychuk has had a standout 2013-14 campaign with Charlotte, leading the AHL with 35 goals and ranking second with 70 points while skating in 65 games for the Checkers. The CCM/AHL Player of the Month for March, Boychuk is also first in the league with 17 power-play goals and has contributed one goal and three assists in 10 NHL matches with Carolina. A 24-year-old native of Airdrie, Alta., Boychuk was the 14th overall pick by the Hurricanes in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Boychuk took to Twitter on Thursday to say thanks...



Ryan Murphy reassigned to Charlotte Checkers by Carolina Hurricanes

Per team release...

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned defenseman Ryan Murphy to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey league (AHL).

Murphy, 21, has totaled 12 points (2g, 10a) in 48 NHL games with the Hurricanes during his first full professional season. The Aurora, Ont., native has also played 19 AHL games for Charlotte in 2013-14, earning 19 points (1g, 18a). Murphy ranks second among Checkers defensemen in assists this season, and third among team blueliners in points. Selected by the Hurricanes in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Murphy (5’11”, 185 lbs.) has totaled two goals and 10 assists (12 points) in 52 career NHL games with Carolina.

The Hurricanes play their final home game of the 2013-14 season tonight against the Washington Capitals (7 p.m., FOX Sports Carolinas, Hurricanes Radio Network). Carolina will wrap up the 2013-14 season with games at Detroit on Friday and in Philadelphia on Sunday.