Sunday, December 21, 2014

Game 29: San Antonio Rampage at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 10-15-2-1, Rampage 16-8-2-0

The Checkers fell in a shootout to the Rampage on Friday, but have still managed to secure three of a possible four points from the top-two teams in their division (Oklahoma City and San Antonio) over their past two contests.

Charlotte is 5-3 in the second game of two-game series after dropping Game 1. Chad LaRose and Trevor Carrick each found the back of the net for the Checkers on Friday. Carrick's goal was his first as a pro.

After this afternoon, the Checkers will head home for their five-day holiday break.

Notes: The Carolina Hurricanes activated forward Alexander Semin from injured reserve late on Saturday and reassigned Justin Shugg to the Checkers. ... Shugg, 22, went scoreless in his first three NHL games this week. He remains Charlotte’s goal-scoring leader with nine on the season.

Checkers lines: 

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom-Chad LaRose
Justin Shugg-Patrick Brown-Phil Di Giuseppe
Carter Sandlak-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal
Kyle Hagel-A.J. Jenks-Andrew Rowe

Rasmus Rissanen-Ryan Murphy
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Mike Little

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Gabriel Desjardins

Injured/out: Brody Sutter (lower body), Greg Nemisz (knee), Beau Schmitz (undisclosed), Keegan Lowe (upper body) 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Game 28: San Antonio Rampage at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 10-15-2-0, Rampage 15-8-2-0

The Checkers improved to 5-3 in the second game of two-game series after dropping Game 1 with a 4-2 win over the West-Division leading Barons on Thursday. Jared Staal, Chad LaRose, Danny Biega and Ben Holmstrom each found the back of the net in the win. Biega's goal came on the power play and snapped a 2-for-43 skid for Charlotte with a man advantage. Brock McGinn and Ryan Murphy each recorded two assists as well.

San Antonio has not played since last Friday when it shutout the Wild in Iowa. Rampage goaltender Dan Ellis (a Charlotte Checkers alum) made 20 saves to record his 10th win of the season.

After tonight, the Checkers will have a day off before hosting the Rampage on Sunday in their final game before the holiday break.

Notes: Checkers defenseman Ryan Murphy, who recorded two assists on Friday, leads the team in helpers and is tied for first in points (0-14-14). ... Jared Staal (2g, 1a) has points in each of his last three games, the longest such streak of his career. ... This is the third of four games this week for the Checkers and their third matchup with the Rampage this season. ... San Antonio took three of the four available points in the teams' two-game series in November. ... C Drew Shore (6-19-25) leads the Rampage in points and is tied for 10th in the AHL in scoring. ... This will likely be the fourth game in four days for Checkers D Mike Little, who signed his second PTO this week with Charlotte on Thursday. ... Little, who left the ECHL's Florida Everblades to join the Checkers, arrived in Charlotte around 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, only to discover his gear was lost by the airline. For more on Little's crazy week, click HERE.  

Checkers lines: 

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom-Chad LaRose
Andrew Rowe-Patrick Brown-Phil Di Giuseppe
Carter Sandlak-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal
Kyle Hagel-A.J. Jenks-Gabriel Desjardins

Rasmus Rissanen-Ryan Murphy
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Mike Little

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: 

Injured/out: Brody Sutter (lower body), Greg Nemisz (knee), Beau Schmitz (undisclosed), Keegan Lowe (upper body) 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Game 27: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 9-15-2-0, Barons 16-6-2-2

The Checkers are gearing up for a rematch with the West-Division leading Barons, who handed them a 4-1 loss on Tuesday night. Brendan Woods scored Charlotte's lone goal in the loss, setting a new career-high for goals in a season with his sixth. Oklahoma City has fared well on the road this season, winning six of its last seven away from the Cox Convention Center.

After tonight, the Checkers will welcome the San Antonio Rampage to Charlotte for two games this weekend (Friday and Sunday).

Notes: Checkers defenseman Ryan Murphy, who assisted on Woods' goal on Tuesday, leads the team in helpers and is tied for second in points (0-12-12). ... Drew MacIntyre (19 saves on 22 shots) recorded his 11th loss of the season on Tuesday, the most by any AHL goalie this season. ... This is the fourth of eight regular-season matchups between Oklahoma City and Charlotte. The Barons have won all three of the previous meetings. ... The Checkers are 4-3 in the second game of back-to-backs after falling in Game 1 and have recorded a split six of their 10 back-to-backs this season. ... Barons center Jason Williams (10-17-27) leads the team in points and entered Thursday tied for third in the AHL in scoring. ... After releasing Matt Little from his PTO on Wednesday, the Checkers have once again signed the defenseman with Keegan Lowe still a question mark to play tonight.

Checkers lines: 

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom-Chad LaRose
Andrew Rowe-Patrick Brown-Phil Di Giuseppe
Carter Sandlak-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal
Kyle Hagel-A.J. Jenks-Gabriel Desjardins

Rasmus Rissanen-Ryan Murphy
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Mike Little

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: 

Injured/out: Brody Sutter (lower body), Greg Nemisz (knee), Beau Schmitz (undisclosed), Keegan Lowe (upper body) 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Game 26: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 9-14-2-0, Barons 15-6-2-2

The Checkers, who snapped a franchise-worst eight-game road-winless streak with a 3-1 victory against Texas on Saturday, begin a four-game home stand on Tuesday that will take them up to next week’s holiday break.

After tonight, the Checkers will host a rematch with Oklahoma City on Thursday before the San Antonio Rampage come to Charlotte for two games this weekend.

Notes: Saturday’s win was the 200th of Checkers goaltender Drew MacIntyre’s career. MacIntyre, 31, is the 12th goalie in the 79-year history of the American Hockey League to reach 200 wins. … Charlotte will take the ice Tuesday without it’s top two scorers. The Carolina Hurricanes recalled Justin Shugg (nine goals, two assists) on Monday, and Greg Nemisz (eight goals, six assists) suffered what is likely a season-ending knee injury during the Checkers’ victory Dec. 6 against Iowa. … The Checkers are 2-for-38 (5.3 percent) on the power play over their past 10 games and rank last in the AHL with a 9.6 percent success rate on the power play. That said, Charlotte has five shorthanded goals (tied for third in the league), already two more than its league-low total from all of last season. … Defenseman Ryan Murphy is tied for 11th among AHL defensemen in assists (11). He played his 100th professional game on Saturday. … The Checkers are 0-2 against the West-Division leading Barons and have been outscored 9-4. ... With mounting injuries and callups, the Checkers signed Gabriel Desjardins and Mike Little to PTO's Tuesday morning. ... Along with A.J. Jenks and Andrew Rowe, the signing of Little and his Everblades teammate, Desjardins, gives the Checkers four professional tryouts on their active roster. ... Fans who bring toys to Tuesday’s game will receive a free ticket for the Checkers’ game on Jan. 4 against Texas.

Checkers lines: 

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom-Jared Staal
Andrew Rowe-Brendan Woods-Chad LaRose
Gabriel Desjardins-Patrick Brown-Phil Di Giuseppe
Kyle Hagel-A.J. Jenks-Carter Sandlak

Rasmus Rissanen-Ryan Murphy
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Mike Little

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Kyle Jean

Injured/out: Brody Sutter (undisclosed), Greg Nemisz (knee), Beau Schmitz (undisclosed), Keegan Lowe (undisclosed) 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Game 22: Iowa Wild at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Monday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 8-11-2-0, Wild 5-15-1-1

The Charlotte Checkers extended their season-long home point streak to six games with a 2-1 win over the Wild on Saturday night. Charlotte fell behind by a goal early in the second period, but two tallies by Brendan Woods proved to be the difference. The win evened the Checkers record at 5-5 in one-goal games.

After tonight, the Checkers will head to Norfolk on Wednesday to begin a three-game road trip.

Notes: The Carolina Hurricanes activated Chris Terry from his five-game rehab assignment on Sunday. Terry had a goal and as assist during his time in Charlotte. ... Brendan Woods (5-5-10) moved up to second on the team in points on Saturday and now has four goals in his last five games. ... Rookie Patrick Brown, who has not played since suffering an injury on Nov. 8, is expected to return to the ice tonight. ... Goaltender Drew MacIntyre is one win shy of 200 for his career. ... This is the fourth matchup between the Wild and Checkers this season, Charlotte leads the season series, 2-1. ... Tyler Graovac (7-10-17) leads Iowa in points and has registered 10 points in his last 10 games. 

Checkers lines: (projected)

Greg Nemisz-A.J. Jenks-Justin Shugg
Brock McGinn-Patrick Brown-Chad LaRose
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Jared Staal
Kyle Hagel-Brendan Woods-Carter Sandlak

Rasmus Rissanen-Ryan Murphy
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Beau Schmitz, Kyle Jean, Andrew Rowe

Injured/out: Brody Sutter (undisclosed)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Game 21: Iowa Wild at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 7-11-2-0, Wild 5-14-1-1

The Charlotte Checkers hope to rebound from one of their toughest losses of the season on Tuesday, when a 2-0 lead over the Norfolk Admirals with 2:09 to play in regulation turned into a 3-2 overtime loss. That said, the Checkers still enter the weekend with points in each of their past three games (2-0-1) and points in each of their past five home games (4-0-1) – both of which are season-long streaks.

Notes: Charlotte went 0-for-5 with a man advantage on Tuesday. After scoring power-play goals in four consecutive games from Nov. 14-21, the Checkers are just 1-for-17 (5.9 percent) in their past five outings. ... Brock McGinn and Justin Shugg have recorded points in each of their last three games. ... Injury report: Jared Staal, who has not played since Nov. 15 with an injury, has been upgraded to day-to-day and will likely play this weekend. Patrick Brown, who suffered an injury on Nov. 8, has returned to practice and is also day-to-day. Brody Sutter (out since Nov. 14) has yet to begin skating. ... The Checkers are also expecting their all-time leading scorer, Chris Terry (rehab assignment with Charlotte), to return to the NHL following Saturday’s game. ... Fans are encouraged to bring new or like-new stuffed animals wrapped in plastic to throw onto the ice following the Checkers’ first goal on Saturday. Checkers players and staff members will deliver the collected animals to Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital.

Checkers lines: (updated)

Chris Terry-A.J. Jenks-Justin Shugg
Brock McGinn-Greg Nemisz-Chad LaRose
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Jared Staal
Kyle Hagel-Brendan Woods-Carter Sandlak

Rasmus Rissanen-Ryan Murphy
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Beau Schmitz, Kyle Jean, Andrew Rowe

Injured/out: Patrick Brown (undisclosed), Brody Sutter (undisclosed)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Game 19: Norfok Admirals at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 7-11-1-0, Admirals 8-12-0-0

The Charlotte Checkers enter Tuesday fresh off a two-game home sweep of the Milwaukee Admirals this past weekend. The back-to-back wins were a first for Charlotte this season and gave it four-straight home wins. Sunday’s 3-2 shootout victory was the Checkers' first this season when trailing after the first period. It also featured 39 saves from goaltender Drew MacIntyre.

The Checkers will be looking to avenge a, 4-1, loss in Norfolk a week ago. This is the third of eight regular-season match ups between the two clubs. The series is currently tied, 1-1.

Notes: After missing Saturday’s game due to illness, defenseman Ryan Murphy had an assist and a game-high, plus-2 rating. … Rookie Brock McGinn (5-3-8) has goals in back-to-back games. … Chris Terry (rehab assignment) has one point (five shots) in three games since being assigned to Charlotte on Nov. 26. ... The Anaheim Ducks, the parent affiliate of Norfolk, recalled goalie Igor Bobkov on Monday and assigned rookie netminder Ryan Faragher from the ECHL to the Admirals. ... The Ducks also reassigned defenseman Jesse Blacker and center Rickard Rakell to Norfolk earlier on Tuesday.

Checkers projected lines: 

Chris Terry-Greg Nemisz-Chad LaRose
Andrew Rowe-Ben Holmstrom-Phil Di Giuseppe
Justin Shugg-A.J. Jenks-Brock McGinn
Kyle Hagel-Brendan Woods-Carter Sandlak

Rasmus Rissanen-Ryan Murphy
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Keegan Lowe-Beau Schmitz

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson, Kyle Jean

Injured/out: Patrick Brown (undisclosed), Brody Sutter (undisclosed), Jared Staal (undisclosed)

*Apologies for the lack of blog posts the past two games, been a bit under the weather. Happy to be back. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Checkers reach tentative agreement to return to Bojangles' Coliseum

The Bojangles’ Coliseum  -- the site of the first professional hockey game in Charlotte – will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year and there is now an agreement in place for it to do so with a new anchor tenant and a $16 million dollar renovation.

The Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League announced on Monday that they have reached a tentative agreement with the Charlotte Regional Visitors’ Authority to return to Bojangles’ Coliseum beginning with the 2015-16 season. 

Next year would mark the first of a 10-year deal the team has struck with the CRVA, which contains two additional five-year options, and is contingent upon a Charlotte City Council vote to approve $16 million in funding for renovations that are necessary to raise the building to AHL standards.

The initial plan for renovations ($12 million previously proposed for amateur sports and civic events and $4 million to accommodate the Checkers) was given in a city council meeting on Monday and the vote will take place on Dec. 8.

Upgrades would include a new high-tech scoreboard, external digital marquees, digital ribbon boards, new seats, new premium seating areas, internal branding specific to the Checkers and new hockey related amenities.

“We are extremely excited about the possibility of returning to our roots at Bojangles’ Coliseum,” said Tera Black, the Checkers’ chief operating officer. “We believe the move to such a historic arena that’s been updated with all the amenities would be greatly beneficial for our organization, our fans and the city of Charlotte.”

The relocation to the Bojangles’ Coliseum would make for a homecoming for the Checkers, who often ran up against the logistical issues of sharing Time Warner Cable Arena with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.  

The Queen City adopted the Baltimore Clippers in January of 1956 and a crowd of 10,363 mobbed the Coliseum on a chilly Monday night to see the team play its first game against New Haven (see the photo to the right).

Police had to turn away a reported 3,000 more fans, but the clear interest in the sport sparked Clippers owner Charlie Rock to ask the league to make the move permanent.

The following year, the team’s name was changed to the Checkers. The team occupied the facility at various points between then and 2005, when it moved to its current location at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Although it’s a move away from a more developed area of Charlotte, the relocation will have some immediate positive impacts for the Checkers, who will be the anchor residents of the arena.

At Time Warner, the Checkers were able to schedule just eight Friday night home games this season. By comparison, the Providence Bruins – typically among the AHL’s top drawing teams – boast 19 Friday night games this season.

The club also struggles to secure ice time at TWCA and is often forced to practice in Indian Trail, which would no longer be an issue at the Coliseum.

“I just think there’s a lot of new fans that probably don’t know the arena like it was back when I played there,” said Pat Kelley, who coached the Checkers from 1973-76.

“The days (of play) will be so much better. Your big nights are your Friday and Saturday nights. And with everything else that goes on at Time Warner Cable Arena with concerts and basketball, they just weren’t able to secure all that many.”

Kelly, who is at the majority of the Checkers games nowadays as an official’s supervisor for the AHL, said that he still remembers his time at the Coliseum – some of it spent on the road as a player for the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League – fondly.

“It’s noisy and it’s loud and I don’t think there’s any bad seat in that arena,” Kelly said. “When Greensboro and Charlotte used to play you couldn’t find a seat.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Charlotte Checkers to wear Hornets jerseys in Nov. 29 matchup with Admirals

The Checkers will dawn specialty “Charlotte Hornets” themed jerseys for next Saturday’s showdown with the Milwaukee Admirals at Time Warner Cable Arena on Nov. 29th.

The jerseys (pictured to the right), which feature the new Charlotte Hornets emblem and color scheme, will be auctioned off for charity following the game. The Checkers also plan to raffle off one prior to the game via their social media account. 

The 29th is also the morning of the Charlotte Checkers third annual 5K Run & Walk, which benefits the Checkers Charitable Foundation. Those that register for the 5K will receive a ticket to the night’s Checkers game. 

The 29th is one of three nights the Checkers plan to wear specialty jerseys this season. They'll wear race-themed duds for the annual "Race Night" game against the Oklahoma City Barons on Jan. 23 and Pink sweaters for their Pink in the Rink Weekend game against the Chicago Wolves on Feb. 7. 


Game 14: Norfolk Admirals at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio info: AHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 4-8-1, Admirals 6-8-0

Charlotte returns home for a showdown against Norfolk before traveling to Oklahoma City for games Friday and Saturday. The Checkers ran into a hot San Antonio team last weekend and recorded one point in their two-game showdown (0-1-1). With Friday’s overtime loss, the Checkers earned a point in back-to-back games for the first time this season. They're still searching for consecutive wins.

Norfolk is hoping to inch back towards the .500 mark after splitting a pair of home games against Binghamton on Friday and Saturday. Tonight's game is the first of eight meetings between Charlotte and Norfolk (its closest opponent in terms of geographic distance). With four of those meetings coming between now and December 10, expect the two teams to become quite familiar.

Notes: After recording one point (an assist) in his first five games, Checkers forward Greg Nemisz has six goals and three assists in his past eight, including two game-winners. … After missing eight games with an upper-body injury (suffered in an Oct. 12 game at Chicago), forward Justin Shugg returned to the lineup this past weekend and recorded a goal in each game. ... Rookie Brock McGinn has one goal on 29 shots this season. His 3.4-percent shooting percentage is the lowest of any Checker who has found the back of the net at least one time. With Jared Staal (injury) ruled out for Tuesday's game, the Checkers have signed left wing Gabriel Desjardins to a professional tryout contract. The 22-year-old is expected to be ready to play against Norfolk. Desjardins joins the Checkers from their ECHL affiliate in Florida, where he posted nine points (5g, 4a) in 12 games.  Two former Checkers -- Matthew Pistilli and Casey Pierro-Zabotel -- signed PTO's with the Admirals this past Monday.

Checkers projected lines: 

Andrew Rowe-A.J. Jenks-Phil Di Giuseppe
Brock McGinn-Kyle Jean-Justin Shugg
Gabriel Desjardens-Greg Nemisz-Chad LaRose
Kyle Hagel-Brendan Woods-Alex Aleardi

Michal Jordan-Ryan Murphy
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Rasmus Rissanen-Keegan Lowe

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson, Beau Schmitz, Carter Sandlak (finishing final game of four-game suspension)

Injured/out: Ben Holmstrom (shoulder), Patrick Brown (undisclosed), Brody Sutter (undisclosed), Jared Staal (undisclosed)  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Charlotte Checkers rebound in big way from bad loss with 3-1 win over Texas Stars on Monday

Checkers goalie Drew MacIntyre called his team together following Monday night’s 3-1 win over the Texas Stars at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Checkers had entered the night looking to rebound from their worst defeat of the season this past Saturday, in which the defending Calder Cup champion Stars chased MacIntyre 10 minutes into the first period on their way to an 8-2 win.

“MacIntyre stopped us and kind of just let us know that we’ve got to bring that effort both games,” said Checkers forward Brendan Woods, who netted his first goal of the season in the win.

“It was an embarrassing night,” MacIntyre said of Saturday, where he allowed four first-period goals on nine shots. “I was ashamed, individually, and team-wise, it was one of the worst I’ve seen in my career. It was an absolute schooling, but it’s huge that we can respond like this.”

MacIntyre finished Monday night with 28 saves on 29 shots.

The Checkers were able to respond despite getting hit from every angle from a personal standpoint on Monday, with a player recalled to the NHL (Michal Jordan), an injury (Patrick Brown), and a suspension (Carter Sandlak).

As a result, Charlotte filled the hole by signing 24-year-old left wing Kyle Jean – who came to the team from the Greenville Road Warriors, where put up 10 points (6g, 4a) in nine games – to a professional tryout contract.

The Checkers (4-7-0) got some help getting on the board early, when two Stars defenders collided during a power play, springing Danny Biega for a breakaway.

Texas goalie Jack Campbell (29 saves) stopped Biega’s initial shot, but Woods was there for the put-back goal. 

"Biega came out of nowhere and I just followed up the play and the puck was sitting right there," said Woods (1-4-5) who moved into a tie with Phil Di Giuseppe for second on the team in points. "They did all the hard work; I just did the easy part." 

The two teams traded goals in the second period, but it was easily Charlotte’s best of the night.

The lone hiccup came at the thee minute, 44 second mark, when Charlotte failed to control a puck in its own zone and it led to Travis Morin's sixth goal of the season. 

Greg Nemisz helped the Checkers respond five minutes later, netting his team-leading fifth of the season, with a wraparound attempt that trickled under Campbell’s pads.

Brett Sutter added an empty-netter late to seal the win for the Checkers.

“I think we learned a big lesson this weekend,” said MacIntyre. “We pretty much play teams back-to-back all season and it’s tough. I’ve been on teams that have done it before and if you beat a team, it’s really hard to beat them again. So, we have to be better, more consistent. Hopefully we learned that lesson this weekend.”

The Checkers will now travel to San Antonio to play two games with the Rampage beginning on Friday.

Game 11: Texas Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Monday, 6 p.m.

TV/Radio info: AHL Live / ESPN 730

Records: Checkers 3-7-0, Stars 6-2-2

The Charlotte Checkers will look to rebound from their worst defeat of the season this past Saturday, in which the Texas Stars chased goalie Drew MacIntyre 10 minutes into the first period on their way to an 8-2 win at Time Warner Cable Arena. Tonight is the first of three games for Charlotte this week. The Checkers will travel to San Antonio to play two games with the Rampage beginning on Friday.

Notes: The Carolina Hurricanes recalled defenseman Michal Jordan from the Charlotte Checkers Monday morning. Jordan, who totaled two assists in 10 games for the Checkers this season, will be available for Carolina’s game tonight against the Calgary Flames. ... The AHL, on Monday, announced a four-game suspension for rookie Carter Sandlak, leaving the Checkers short one forward for tonight's rematch with Texas. Charlotte filled that hole by signing left wing Kyle Jean to a professional tryout contract. ... Sandlak, 21, earned a match penalty during Saturday's game against Texas for throwing a punch at unsuspecting Stars forward Gemel Smith. ... Sandlak will be eligible to play next on November 20 at Oklahoma City. ... Jean, a 24-year-old Michigan native, comes to the team from the Greenville Road Warriors, where put up 10 points (6g, 4a) in nine games. ... Patrick Brown did not participate in today's morning skate and will miss tonight's game due to injury, per head coach Jeff Daniels. Brown went to the locker room at one point during Saturday's loss, but returned later in the period. ... The Checkers six points in the standings is their lowest total through 10 games in the team's five-year history. ... Stars C Travis Morin (5-12-17) enters Monday leading the Stars in goals, assists and points. ... Derek Hulak recorded a hat trick against the Checkers on Saturday. ... Monday is Teacher Appreciation Night. 

Checkers projected lines: 

Phil Di Giuseppe-Greg Nemisz-Alex Aleardi
Andrew Rowe- Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brock McGinn-A.J. Jenks-Kyle Jean
Kyle Hagel-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Danny Biega
Trevor Carrick-Ryan Murphy
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson, Beau Schmitz, Carter Sandlak (suspended)

Injured/out: Justin Shugg (upper-body injury), Ben Holmstrom (shoulder), Patrick Brown (undisclosed) 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Game 10: Texas Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio info: AHL Live and TWC SportsChannel 323 / ESPN 730

Records: Checkers 3-6-0, Stars 5-2-2

The Checkers will look to build off their first home victory of the season this weekend as they play two with the Texas Stars, the first coming this Saturday and the rematch Monday at 6 pm.

Notes: Checkers assistant captain Greg Nemisz has been red-hot offensively with five points in his last four games. Nemisz scored both Checkers goals in their 2-1 win over Hamilton at Time Warner Cable Arena this past Sunday. His four goals this season are tops on the team. … The Checkers signed forward Andrew Rowe to a PTO prior to last Sunday’s win. The game was the fourth in as many nights for Rowe, who began the season with South Carolina (ECHL). He played well despite some tired legs, making his performance on Friday something worth keeping an eye on. … The Checkers, have average 1.89 goals per game, which ranks 29th in the AHL. They have been held to a single goal in five of their eight games this season, all losses. … With five fights in Sunday's game against Hamilton, Charlotte now ranks third in the league with 16 major penalties. Forward Kyle Hagel leads the AHL in major penalties with five, and defenseman Trevor Carrick is tied for the major penalties lead among rookies with three. … Drew MacIntyre has started seven of the first nine games in net. MacIntyre, a 12th-year pro who appeared in 48 games for the Toronto Marlies last season, currently ranks fourth in the AHL with 206 saves. … Stars C Travis Morin (5-9-14) enters Friday leading the Stars in goals, assists and points. Saturday is Military Appreciation Night, Camo Checkers hats will be given to the first 2,500 fans. … Monday is Teacher Appreciation Night.

Raleigh Updates: The Hurricanes enter Friday on a four-game winning streak thanks to Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Former Checkers C Elias Lindholm has 3 game-winning goals (all within the last 4 games). That ranks him tied for first in the NHL in that category.

Checkers lines: 

Andrew Rowe- Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Phil Di Giuseppe-Patrick Brown-Alex Aleardi
Brock McGinn-A.J. Jenks-Greg Nemisz
Carter Sandlak-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Michal Jordan
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Keegan Lowe-Ryan Murphy

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson, Beau Schmitz

Injured/out: Justin Shugg (upper-body injury), Ben Holmstrom (shoulder), Kyle Hagel (undisclosed) 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Video: AHL changes rules to prevent goalies from intentionally dislodging own net


In the midst of his fifth consecutive season in the American Hockey League, 30-year-old Bridgeport Sound Tigers goalie David Leggio found an interesting way to turn the odds in his favor.

This Sunday, Leggio avoided facing a 2-on-0 breakaway by simply turning around and flipping his own net off its moorings before having to face a shot.

As a result, Springfield was awarded a penalty shot, which Leggio stopped.

Knocking his net over, effectively turned a 2-on-0 into a 1-on-0 and video of his quick thinking didn’t take long to go viral. It has over 1,145,000 views as of the posting of this story.

Don’t expect many goalies to follow Leggio’s example, thought. According to Darren Dreger, the AHL has reviewed the play and has made a goalie intentionally dislodging his net a game misconduct.



"I really didn't think it was a big deal, to be honest. I just thought I made a play based on the rules," Leggio told the Connecticut Post on Tuesday. "I was laughing a lot. I got some funny messages from people."

Later in the article, Leggio went on to joke:

"Maybe they'll change the rule. Name it after me, no big deal. I was just trying to make a play to help my team win."

Well Played Mr. Leggio.


UPDATE: The voice of the Charlotte Checkers, Jason Shaya offered a couple thoughts on Leggio's actions earlier this week.

"(Leggio) tweeted the following day that this is a tactic they actually teach in his goaltending school (amongst other delay strategies)," Shaya wrote during his weekly '10 Thoughts' post on gocheckers.com. "Also, because he stopped the penalty shot that was awarded against him, his gamble clearly paid off. But now I would assume that this will be reviewed by the AHL rules committee.


"One more thing about Leggio throwing the net off its pegs," Shaya continued. "I find it strange that his first reaction was to find a way out of the circumstance rather than to immediately engage in making a save. A goaltender, at the most crucial moments, you would think, should instinctively go into fight mode, not flight. How many times have you ever seen a goalie turn his back to the play that is coming in his direction? I doubt many goalies would even conceive of the idea." 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Greg Nemisz nets two in Charlotte Checkers first home win

Entering Sunday, the Charlotte Checkers had generated only a single goal in each of their three home games this season.

Greg Nemisz put an end to that trend all by himself, scoring a goal in the second and third periods to lead the Checkers over the Hamilton Bulldogs, 2-1, in front of 3,753 at Time Warner Cable Arena .

“Nemo, for me, is just a real solid pro with his voice in the locker room and the way he prepares for practice every day,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels of Nemisz, who now leads Charlotte with six points (four goals, two assists). “He put up a lot of points in junior (hockey) and it hasn’t happened yet at the pro level... but he’s off to a good start.”

The win – which featured five fights – was the Checkers’ first at home this season and improved the team to 3-6-0 overall, while also serving as revenge for a 3-1 loss to the Bulldogs this past Friday.

“We came to the rink today with a chip on our shoulder – enough is enough,” said Daniels. “It wasn’t our plan to fight five times, it just kind of happened. It got a little chippy at times, but for the most part it was a pretty honest game.”

After taking a 1-0 lead over the Bulldogs on Friday and then surrendering three unanswered goals, the Checkers found themselves in a similar position on Sunday.

Nemisz’ first – a backhanded chip past Hamilton goalie Mike Condon (31 saves) – came a minute and 47 seconds into the second period. Early on in the third, Hamilton evened the game at 1-1, thanks to a puck that bounced off the backside of Drew MacIntyre (24 saves) and slid just over the goal line.

The Checkers response, left coach Daniels impressed.

“(The game) could have gone either way with the mindset of our team, but I thought the shift after that (goal) was a really good shift by Brownie’s line (Phil Di Giuseppe-Patrick Brown-Alex Aleardi)," Daniels said. "They just went in there, were moving their legs, had some zone time and we moved on from it.”

Midway through the second period, Nemisz was sent hard into the boards by Connor Crisp and was slow to get up, as Charlotte defenseman Carter Sandlak and Crisp dropped the gloves.

In the third, Nemisz got revenge, batting home the rebound from a power-play shot off the stick of Ryan Murphy for the game-winning goal.

“As much as you want to play with a lead through 60 minutes it doesn’t always happen,” Daniels said. “Goals happen and it’s just how you respond to it. We didn’t respond well on Friday but I thought we responded well today.”

NOTES: With two goals on Sunday, Greg Nemisz now has 17 points (7g, 10a) in 23 games since his acquisition from Calgary last season. The two-goal game was his first since 2012. … Andrew Rowe, who signed with the team early on Sunday to play for the suspended Brock McGinn, played his fourth game in four days. He finished the game with four shots on goal. “He played a three-in-three and all of the sudden you get in the car, get in at two this morning and then play at one a clock,” Daniels said. “I thought he gave us everything he had and I thought he did some good things. We’ll see how this week goes about with injuries and whatnot and we’ll see where he fits in.”… 20-year-old rookie defenseman Trevor Carrick has impressed coach Daniels with his play thus far. “He’s been a pleasant surprise for us,” Daniels said. “He’s a confident kid and he plays a big, strong game. He’s not afraid to make a play out there and he gets involved physically. He’s been real good for us for a first-year pro nine games into his pro season and he’s handled it real well.”

INJURIES: Justin Shugg (upper-body injury) is yet to practice with the team and missed his sixth consecutive game. … Ben Holmstrom (shoulder injury) missed his first game of the season and “was definitely out” according to Daniels. “He wasn’s a question mark today.”

Game 9: Hamilton Bulldogs at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Sunday, 1 p.m..

TV/Radio info: AHL Live / ESPN 730

Records: Checkers 2-6-0, Bulldogs 3-3-2

After falling, 3-1, to the Bulldogs on Friday, the Checkers will continue their quest for their first home win with a Sunday afternoon rematch with Hamilton at Time Warner Cable Arena. Charlotte has struggled at home offensively this season, where they have been outscored 9-3 through three games.

The Checkers will be without two regulars on Sunday. Rookie Brock McGinn has been suspended for one game by the AHL for an illegal hit to the head of a Bulldogs player on Friday (The suspension is the first issued to the Checkers this season and the first of McGinn's pro career). Assistant captain Ben Holmstrom is also out after injuring his shoulder in Friday's loss.

Notes: Just after 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning, the Checkers announced the signing of forward Andrew Rowe to a professional tryout contract. Rowe, 26, began this season with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL, where he racked up seven points in his first eight games. The former Michigan State Spartan has averaged over a point-per-game each of his last two seasons in the ECHL, putting up 66 points (31g, 35a) in 64 games last season and 71 points (28g, 43a) in 66 games in 2012-13. ... The Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak with their win Friday in Charlotte. Hamilton is in search of back-to-back wins for the first time this season. 

Checkers lines: 

Andrew Rowe- Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Phil Di Giuseppe-Patrick Brown-Alex Aleardi
Carter Sandlak-A.J. Jenks-Greg Nemisz
Kyle Hagel-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Michal Jordan
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Keegan Lowe-Ryan Murphy

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson, Beau Schmitz

Injured/out: Justin Shugg (upper-body injury), Ben Holmstrom (shoulder)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Former Hurricane, Chad LaRose, starting to look like old self in Charlotte

After sitting out the entire 2013-14 season, Charlotte Checkers right wing Chad LaRose is starting to look like his old self.

In the final seconds of the first period of the Checkers 3-1 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs in front of 3,459 at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday afternoon, LaRose darted towards the left side of the net with the puck on his stick.

With a Bulldogs’ defenseman sliding in front of him, LaRose attempted to cross the puck, but it instead bounced right back onto his stick.

It was the 32-year-old’s quick reaction and soft hands that then stood out, as he lifted a backhand shot up and over Hamilton goalie Mike Condon (26 saves on 27 shots) for his second goal of the season.

The point was LaRose’s third in as many games, after posting a clean sheet in his first five regular-season games.

“He’s getting his legs and timing back,” Checkers coach Jeff Daniels said of LaRose. “He missed a year last year, so we knew it was going to take some time and I think you’re starting to see some flashes of what LaRose is capable of doing.” 

LaRose’s hard-nose style of play made him a fan-favorite in Raleigh, where he netted at least 10 goals for five-straight seasons from 2007-08 to 2011-12. But a down season in 2012-13 (two goals and two assists in 35 games) led him to question his commitment to the game. 

A free agent to be, LaRose, skipped his exit interview with the Hurricanes and fell off the grid. Calls and text messages from NHL clubs interested in his services simply went unanswered.

“I wasn’t into the game anymore and I didn’t think it was fair to give anybody 60 or 70 percent of me,” he told the Checkers’ Paul Branecky back in September. “I built up a lot of anger towards the game and wanted to get away. I didn’t know if I’d ever play again, to be honest with you.”

It took until this past spring for LaRose’s passion for the game to return. When it did, he reached out to the Hurricanes, who have offered him a chance to earn his way back to the NHL by showing what he can do with the Checkers.

“(LaRose is) a high-energy guy,” Daniels said on Friday. “He’s good down on the cycle with protecting the puck and he’s capable of scoring goals.”

With the Canes’ historically slow start to the season – they failed to secure a single win in the month of October – there’s a very real chance fans in Raleigh will be able to dust off their LaRose jerseys at some point this season.

Notes: Defenseman Ryan Murphy – who was assigned to Charlotte on Wednesday -- played his first game with the Checkers and failed to record a shot on goal, finishing the game a minus-2.

“I thought he was ok,” said Daniels when asked about Murphy’s debut. “He showed his ability to skate up the ice with the puck. He sees the ice well and can make a play, but he’ll get better.” 

Murphy was caught out of position on the Bulldogs’ first goal, allowing Christian Thomas a free run at Drew MacIntyre (20 saves on 22 shots), but also showed the ability to skate the puck into the offensive zone – something the Checkers have struggled with this season.

Asked what the Hurricanes want to see from him in Charlotte, Murphy didn’t make any excuses.

“I need to get better at defensive zone coverage, (improve my) strength, and work on the power play,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff that I need to get better at to get myself back in the big leagues.

“(Carolina) Coach (Bill) Peters has a game plan and he likes to stick to it,” Murphy continued. “He’s probably the most prepared coach I’ve ever played for. He knows what he wants and he wants the best for his players and he wants his players to play hard for him.”

Friday’s loss dropped the Checkers to 2-6-0 on the season. They’ll take on the Bulldogs again this Sunday at 1 p.m.

Injuries: Checkers assistant captain Ben Holmstrom hit the boards hard during the third period on Friday and went straight to the locker room holding his left shoulder. Daniels did not have any update on Holmstrom’s condition following the game, but its likely he’ll miss this Sunday’s game. … Forward Justin Shugg (upper body injury) missed his fifth straight game.     

Game 8: Hamilton Bulldogs at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, noon.

TV/Radio info: AHL Live / ESPN 730

Records: Checkers 2-5-0, Bulldogs 2-3-2

After splitting a pair of games at Iowa over the weekend, the Checkers return home to play a pair against the Hamilton Bulldogs. The team still is searching for its first home win and is looking to avoid a similar start to last season’s 0-6-0.

Notes: On Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes reassigned defenseman Ryan Murphy and center Brody Sutter to Charlotte. Murphy joins the Checkers for the first time this season after playing six games with Carolina. … Murphy’s presence should help the Checkers climb out of last place in the American Hockey League in shots on goal (22.71 per game). … Charlotte did outshoot its opponent for the first time in Saturday’s loss at Iowa. … Brock McGinn and Carter Sandlak scored their first professional goals Friday at Iowa. Sandlak’s also was his first pro point.

Checkers lines: 

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom (A)-Greg Nemisz (A)
Phil Di Giuseppe-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brendan Woods-Patrick Brown-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-A.J. Jenks-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Michal Jordan (C)
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Keegan Lowe-Ryan Murphy

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Carter Sandlak, Dennis Robertson, Beau Schmitz

Injured/out: Justin Shugg (upper-body injury). 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Checkers swept by Griffins despite strong effort from a sick Brendan Woods

U
Brendan Woods woke up sick Saturday morning.

He tipped off the Checkers training staff and then did what he could to pull himself together. 

“It was up in the air a bit,” Woods said. “We were just taking precautions, but I felt good in warm ups and let the coaches and trainers know that I was good to go.” 

Woods – whose injury history is longer than most 22-year-old forwards’ – is back on the ice this year after a disappointing end to last season, where a knee injury cost him the final 25 games.  

After being sidelined with a broken leg earlier in his career and missing 31 total games in 2013-14, Woods had no intentions of sitting out Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins because of an illness.

“I’ve had a tough road in my career so far with injuries,” he said. "It’s just good to be healthy and I want to stay healthy.”

Woods’ physicality showed midway through the first period when he corralled the puck and carried it deep into the Griffins' zone with speed before sending a tape-to-tape pass to Phil Di Giuseppe for a slap shot that was tipped home by Jared Staal.

The puck found the back of the net at 6:14 in the first period and proved to be the lone goal of the game for the Checkers (1-4-0), who fell for the second time in as many days to Grand Rapids (3-1-0) in front of 5,917 at Time Warner Cable Arena.

“It’s a simple play,” said Woods, whose team surrendered two goals in the second and third periods. “That’s how our goals are going to be. They’re not going to be pretty. We’re going to be playing dirty and getting all those ugly ones. The ugly ones are just as good as the prettier ones. We’ve just got to keep plugging away."

For the second day in a row, Charlotte struggled to stay out of the penalty box (they allowed the Griffins nine power plays on Friday) and Grand Rapids took advantage, netting three of its four goals on the man advantage.

With the Checkers trailing 3-1 in the third, Woods was hit with a tripping penalty and his frustrations boiled over when he voiced his opinion that the play was a dive to the on-ice officials.

Woods’ words earned him a 10-minute game misconduct penalty, but the game was all but over at that point.  

“The way the score was and how the game was going, I was frustrated and I let my emotions get to me,” he said. “They’re a good team and they’re good on the power play. We knew that coming in to this weekend and we kind of shot ourselves in the foot by taking too many dumb penalties – me included.

“We have a great team in that locker room,” Woods continued. “We showed that for the first 15 minutes tonight when we dominated. We’ve just got to put a full 60 minutes together.” 

Game 5: Grand Rapids Griffins at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

TV/Radio info: AHL Live / ESPN 730

Records: Checkers 1-3-0, Griffins 2-1-0

The Charlotte Checkers are still looking for their first win at home this season after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Griffins at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday night. Brody Sutter scored the lone goal in support of Drew MacIntyre (41 saves on 43 shots), who is now 1-2 on the season despite leading the AHL with 112 saves. After Saturday night's game, the Checkers will hit to road, where they will play a two-game weekend series in Iowa against the Wild. 

Following Friday's game, the Detroit Red Wings recalled Griffins starting goaltender Petr Mrazek (18 of 19 saves) to the NHL. ... Tom McCollum (1-0-0; 2.00 GAA) will likely start in net. 

Notes: The Raleigh News and Observer's Chip Alexander put a nice update on former Checkers Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm adapting to play in Carolina. ... C Ben Holmstrom is three shy of 500 AHL penalty minutes. ... Friday was the 100th career AHL game for C Brody Sutter. ... After asking around, it sounds like the Checkers feel as though Friday's game was the best so far this season from rookie LW Brock McGinn, who had a shot hit the post. 

Probable lines: 

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom (A)-Alex Aleardi
Phil Di Giuseppe-Brody Sutter-Greg Nemisz (A)
Carter Sandlak-Patrick Brown-Chad LaRose
Kyle Hagel-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Michal Jordan (C)
Keegan Lowe-Danny Biega
Trevor Carrick-Beau Schmitz

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Mike Aviani (signed a PTO with the Checkers on Thursday), Dennis Robertson

Injured/out: Justin Shugg (upper-body injury). Brendan Woods (questionable due to illness)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Brody Sutter's goal not enough as Checkers fall to Griffins in home opener, 2-1

Brody Sutter kept telling himself that once the puck dropped, the arena didn’t matter.

It was Thursday morning, and Sutter, a seventh-round draft pick with a famous last name, was hours away from making his NHL debut – at Madison Square Garden.

“It was awesome, probably the best day of my life and something I’ve worked towards since I was a little boy,” said Sutter, 23, who logged 13 shifts in the Hurricanes shootout loss to the Rangers. “To not only make the NHL, but to do it in New York was not only really cool, but an exciting day for my family and I.”  

Following the game, Carolina activated Jeff Skinner from its crowded list of injured reserves and reassigned Sutter to the Charlotte Checkers just in time for its home opener at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday.

Less than 24 hours removed from centering the Canes' fourth line, Sutter found himself paired with youngsters Alex Aleardi and Phil Di Giuseppe, again reminding himself that once the puck dropped, the arena doesn't matter.

After using the first period to get his legs under him, Sutter broke into the offensive zone, collected a rebound, and sent a quick shot past Grand Rapids goalie Petr Mrazek for the Checkers’ lone goal in a 2-1 loss in front of a home-town crowd of 7,277. 

“Hockey is hockey,” Sutter said. “You have to come and compete every night. It doesn’t matter if it’s NHL, AHL, juniors, or college. Obviously, it’s a little bit bigger of a stage up top and it’s a little bit faster. But, like I said, once the puck drops, it’s still hockey and you’ve got to be able to compete and win your battles and help the team win.”  
     
Friday night was a solid showing for Sutter (three shots on net) – who played 69 games for the Checkers last season and set career highs in games, goals (8), assists (20) and points (28) – but almost no one else, with the Checkers getting outshot 43-19. 

Charlotte – which surrendered Grand Rapids nine power plays -- allowed the go-ahead goal at 0:46 of the third while playing a man down, when Teemu Pulkkinen found the open net above the right blocker of Drew MacIntyre (41 of 43 saves).

“I think if we cut down on some shots against and some penalties we might be a little fresher to play the other way, but right now we’re killing ourselves with too much time in our end killing penalties and soft plays,” Checkers coach Jeff Daniels said.

Charlotte did what it could to try to even the score in the third period, but was still outshot 16-8 in the frame and ultimately fell to 1-3-0 on the season.

The Checkers will have a chance for redemption on Saturday at 7 p.m. when the two teams face off once more before Grand Rapids heads out of town.

Carolina coach Bill Peters “said I should get another chance up there at some point this season, so that’s encouraging and it was a good first step,” said Sutter. “But we’ve got to execute better on our breakout. There are not too many positives when you get outshot 38-20 or whatever it was at home. We need to be better and we’ll make sure we are tomorrow.”

Game 4: Grand Rapids Griffins at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, 7:00 p.m.

TV/Radio info: TWC Ch. 323 / no radio

Records: Checkers 1-2-0, Griffins 1-1-0

The Charlotte Checkers are set to play their first home game of the season after starting the 2014-15 campaign with a three-in-three road trip. After dropping their first two games of the season, Charlotte secured a 2-1 win in overtime on Sunday thanks to Ben Holmstrom's first goal as a member of the Checkers and 42 saves (on 43 shots) from Drew MacIntyre

The Griffins split a home-and-home series with the Lake Erie Monsters and will take on Charlotte at Time Warner Cable Arena again on Saturday. The Checkers are 2-2 all time in home openers.

Hurricanes assign Brown, Sutter to Charlotte

Per AHL release...

RALEIGH -- Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has assigned forwards Patrick Brown and Brody Sutter to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). It was also announced that forward Jeff Skinner has been removed from injured reserve.

Notes: This is the first of eight regular-season meetings between the Griffins and Checkers. ... Tonight is the 13th all-time meeting between Charlotte and Grand Rapids. The Checkers hold the edge with a 8-4-0-0 (16 points) record. ... Holmstrom (1-1-2) is tied for the team leas in goals and points and has recorded points in his last two games. ... Both Sutter and Brown are expected to play tonight. ... Former Checker Chris Terry (3-1-4) has scored three goals in the Hurricanes last four games and is tied for the team lead in points.  

Probable lines:

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom-Chad LaRose
Phil Di Giuseppe-Brody Sutter-Alex Aleardi
Carter Sandlak-Greg Nemisz-Jared Staal
Kyle Hagel-Patrick Brown-Brendan Woods

Rasmus Rissanen-Michal Jordan
Keegan Lowe-Danny Biega
Trevor Carrick-Beau Schmitz

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Mike Aviani (signed a PTO with the Checkers on Thursday), Dennis Robertson

Injured/out: Justin Shugg

Friday, July 4, 2014

Checkers updates: Canes sign four of six Checkers RFAs

It’s been a busy week for the Carolina Hurricanes who have now resigned four of the Charlotte Checkers six restricted free agents.

Here’s a quick recap of what’s gone on.

June 24 – Hurricanes agree to terms with left wing Chris Terry on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Terry $600,000 on the NHL level or $300,000 on the American Hockey League level in 2014-15.

July 1 – Hurricanes agree to terms with goaltender Drew MacIntyre on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay MacIntyre $600,000 in the NHL or $250,000 in the AHL for the 2014-15 season, with a guarantee of at least $300,000.

Former Checkers captain, Brett Sutter signes a two-year, two-way deal with the Minnesota Wild.

July 2 -- Hurricanes sign forward Greg Nemisz to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Nemisz $600,000 in the NHL or $100,000 in the AHL for the 2014-15 season, with a guarantee of at least $125,000.

Hurricanes agree to terms with forward Zach Boychuk on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Boychuk $600,000 at the NHL level, or $200,000 on the AHL level, with a guarantee of $275,000.

July 3 -- Hurricanes agree to terms with right wing Jared Staal on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Staal $550,000 on the NHL level, or $65,000 on the AHL level, during the 2014-15 season.

Hurricanes agree to terms with defenseman Michal Jordan on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Jordan $550,000 on the NHL level, or $200,000 on the AHL level, with a guarantee of $225,000.

Hurricane agree to terms with center Ben Holmstrom on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Holmstrom $600,000 in the NHL or $200,000 in the AHL for the 2014-15 season.

*Only restricted free agents Justin Shugg and Rasmus Rissanen remain unsigned at the moment.

More on the two new guys:

Holmstrom, 27, is a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado and spent his first five professional seasons in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. He was captain of the Adirondack Phantoms for the last three and could take over that role with the Checkers given Sutter’s exit. Holmstrom has 122 points (49g, 73a) and 393 penalty minutes in 256 career AHL games. 

MacIntyre, 31, is a two-time AHL All-Star and has played in 329 games. He went 29-15-3 with a 2.53 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and one shutout for the Marlies last season, ranking second among AHL goaltenders in victories. With Just Peters heading to Washington, MacIntyre looks primed to start the year as the Checkers No. 1 goaltender.

*Charlotte should be happy to have the veteran in red and white this season, last year, he went 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .942 save percentage against the Checkers.

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. In a reoccurring theme as of late, the Checkers had trouble staying out of the box, 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, Rockford took a three-goal lead and later added two more power-play tallies. 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.