Monday, March 31, 2014

John Muse earns AHL Player of the Week honors

Per team release...

Goaltender went 4-0-0 to propel Checkers into playoff position                               

CHARLOTTE, NC—The American Hockey League announced today that Checkers goaltender John Muse has been selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Mar. 30, 2014.

Muse stopped 105 of 108 shots in four appearances last week, going 4-0-0 with a 0.81 goals-against average and a .972 save percentage to propel the Checkers into a playoff position in the Western Conference.

Entering the week three points out of eighth place in the West, Charlotte got a 24-save effort from Muse in a 2-1 road win over Iowa Tuesday followed by a 22-save shutout in a 7-0 win over the Wild Wednesday.

As Charlotte returned home for a pair of critical weekend games against Oklahoma City, Muse stopped 32 of 34 shots plus five of six shootout attempts in a 3-2 victory on Saturday night, then came on in relief Sunday afternoon and turned aside all 27 shots he faced before going 4-for-5 in the shootout for a 5-4 victory.

The Checkers’ eight-point week allowed them to move into eighth place in the Western Conference, four points ahead of Oklahoma City.

A two-time NCAA champion at Boston College (2008, 2010), Muse has a record of 26-12-0 in 40 games this season. His 26 victories set a new franchise record and have him tied for third in the league in that category.

In recognition of his achievement, Muse will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Checkers home game.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Zach Boychuk sets Checkers’ scoring mark in shootout win

With a goal and an assist in the Checkers 5-4 shootout win over the Oklahoma City Barons in front of 8,011 on Sunday afternoon, Charlotte forward Zach Boychuk set a new franchise-record for points in a single season with 67 (32g, 35a).

The win was the 12 of this month for the Checkers, who improved to 18-17-1 at Time Warner Cable Arena this season.

“He’s just consistent,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels of Boychuk, whose 32 goals leads the AHL. “Game in and game out he’s providing offense for us and working hard away from the puck. Even the nights where he may be a bit off, he’ll still get an assist like he did (Saturday) night. He’s a guy, who when he gets the puck around the net, can finish, or make a play.” 

Joining Boychuk in the Checkers’ record books on Sunday was Charlotte goaltender John Muse, who entered the game midway through the second period in relief of Mike Murphy, who had allowed four goals on 12 shots.

Muse went on to stop all 23 shots he faced in regulation and overtime, and then four of five during the shootout to pick up his 43rd career win with the Checkers, tying him with Murphy for the most in the franchise’s history.

“He doesn’t get rattled,” said Daniels of Muse, who improved to 9-1-0 this month with the win. “For me, it all starts with his preparation, whether it’s a game day, or for a practice, or a day when he’s not scheduled to play, he’s ready.”

The Checkers win moved them into sole possession of seventh place (75 points) in the Western Conference for the time being, with eighth-placed Rockford (73 points and a game in hand) still to play. It also allowed the Checkers to jump four points ahead of the Barons (71 points), who now sit in ninth place.

Murphy got the start on Sunday despite losses in seven of his previous eight appearances, and early on things again failed to go in his favor.

Taylor Fedun put the Barons up 1-0 in the first on a shot that went off Murphy, landed behind him, and then was knocked in by Matt Corrente as he attempted to clear it.

Victor Rask, who has been centering a line of Boychuk and Matt Pistilli for the past four games, tied the score at 1 just under two minutes later. The goal was the 21-year-old rookie’s third in three games.

“I remember the first 10 games or so at the beginning of the year when I was playing with (Rask), I loved playing with him and we were really producing and playing well together,” said Boychuk, who has 10 points (4g, 6a) since joining up with Rask and Pistilli in Iowa four games ago.

The Barons took the lead early in the second, but again the Checkers had a response thanks to Chris Terry’s 28th goal of the season.

However, back-to-back goals by the Barons’ Will Acton and Steve Pinizzotto spelled the end of the night for Murphy.

Less than three minutes after his exit, the Checkers tied the score on goals by Boychuk and Jared Stall. That’s where the score stayed until the final shootout, where Terry and Shugg each scored to give Charlotte the 2-1 edge.

“The last few games have meant a lot and they’ve been good battles,” said Boychuk. “To get two huge wins this weekend is huge. We didn’t want to give up points both nights, but at least we’re moving forward and creating separation.”  

Notes: Brendan Woods (out for season), Greg Nemisz (out for season) and Aaron Palushaj (day-to-day) missed the game due to injuries. ... Dennis Robertson, Keegan Lowe and Phil Di Guiseppe were the healthy scratches. ... Mike Murphy (8 saves on 12 shots) has not recorded an AHL win since Feb. 16. ... John Muse has now won 23 of his last 30 decisions dating back to Nov. 23. ...The Checkers 12 wins this month are a franchise-record. The previous high water mark for a month was 10 wins in November of 2010. ... Barons goaltender Richard Bachman went 0-2 against the Checkers this weekend, despite stopping 65 of the Checkers 71 shots on net. 

Read more here:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Matt Marquardt and John Muse lead Checkers to win over Barons

With three minutes to play in Saturday’s Checkers-Barons showdown at Time Warner Cable Arena, the talk in the press box was about potential records.

John Muse had one of his best games of the season going, with saves on all 28 Oklahoma City shots to that point. 

Fresh off a shutout of the Iowa Wild on Wednesday, Muse’s streak of not allowing a goal was approaching 145 minutes (144:23), and one more clean sheet would give him the Checkers’ franchise-record for most career shutouts with seven (passing Justin Peters). 

Then, with 2:39 to play, Muse’s bid to put up a zero came to an end, just moments after Checkers play-by-play announcer Jason Shaya had texted the booth asking about the duration of the shutout streak, when a shot by Matthew Ford found its way through a crowd and into the back of the net. 

With the shutout lost, a lead that felt almost insurmountable midway through the third given Muse’s play, was cut to 2-1. 

With six seconds remaining, the game’s entire script flipped, when Taylor Fedun’s soft wrist shot evened things at 2-2, turning a contest that looked like one for the record books, into five minutes of four-on-four, and then, a shootout. 

Muse, who finished the night with 32 saves, regained the stellar form he showed for the first 57 minutes of play and rallied to stop five of six Barons' shooters to record his 25th win of the season, as the Checkers prevailed 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 8, 232. 

“He’s very professional, very focused, and he doesn’t get rattled,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels of Muse, who improved to 8-1-0 with a 2.19 GAA and .933 save percentage in the month of March. “He’s able to move on after a goal -- whether it’s a good one, or a bad one -- and I think that’s a key quality in a goalie.” 

“They’re gong to score goals, I know that,” said Muse, whose team moved to three points ahead of the Barons in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. “No one can be perfect in there. It’s all how you react to the goals that you let in. I try to just let it go and move on to the next save.” 

The unlikely offensive hero of the night for the Checkers was Matt Marquardt, who found himself back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Wednesday’s 7-0 win in Iowa when Charlotte chose to use seven defensemen. 

Marquardt finished the game with a second-period goal (his sixth of the season) and the game-winner as the Checkers sixth shooter in the shootout. 

“I thought (Marquardt) was good,” said Daniels. He’s played well the last couple of weeks. I wanted to go a different way (on Wednesday), it was nothing against him. 

Asked if he knew that Daniels was going to tab him to take the eventual game winner, Marquardt responded, “Not at all. Everyone was kind of listening to who was going to go and there was a silence there for a bit, and then he said my name and I turned around and looked at him and he had to tell me to go again. 

“It was awesome,” continued Marquardt. “I was very excited to have the opportunity.”  

“After I got through my (five) key guys that I normally go to (in shootouts), (Marquardt's) a guy that has scored a couple times, and I thought he had a good game and deserved an opportunity,” said Daniels. 

Victor Rask scored the second goal for the Checkers midway through the third, when he was in the right place at the right time to bat home a shot from Matt Pistilli that came off the back boards hard.

The shootout win, coupled with a 4-1 loss for Rockford on Saturday, moved the Checkers into a tie with the IceHogs for seventh place in the Western Conference with 73 points. 

The Checkers will take on the Barons again on Sunday at Time Warner Cable Arena, with a 1:30 p.m. scheduled puck drop. Charlotte currently leads the season-series 7-1-1. 

“Our focus going in was getting the win and we’re leaving the building tonight with two points,” said Daniels. “we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

Notes: Both Ryan Murphy (12 games) and Chris Terry (nine games) saw point streaks come to an end in the Checkers win. Murphy's streak was the longest by a player in Checkers history, breaking the old record of 11 games set by fellow defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti from Jan. 12-Feb. 12, 2012. ... Checkers goalie John Muse has won 22 of his last 29 decisions dating back to Nov. 23. With 42 wins as a Checkers, Muse is now just one victory shy of tying his teammate Mike Murphy for the franchise-record. ... Victor Rask, Terry, and Brett Sutter each had five shots in the game. ... Boychuk (2g, 4a) now has six points in his last two games. ... Brendan Woods (out for the season), Greg Nemisz (out for the season) and Aaron Palushaj (out for the weekend) missed the game due to injuries. ... Keegan Lowe, Dennis Robinson and Phil Di Giuseppe were the healthy scratches. 

Game 68 Preview: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

The Checkers woke up on Friday ranked in the Western Conference’s top eight teams for the first time in nearly five months thanks to a two-game sweep over the Wild in Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday.

With Rochester's ninth straight loss on Friday night, the Checkers enter Saturday's matchup with Oklahoma City with a one-point lead over the Americans.

The Barons, who enter the day 10th in the Western Conference, are right there with Charlotte (71 points) in a battle for the eight spot in the Western Conference with 69 points.

Of Charlotte's nine remaining games this season, four are set to come against Oklahoma City. Charlotte leads the season series 6-1-1, having won each of the first six before dropping the next two in Charlotte.

Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m.

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

Records: Checkers 34-30-3, Rampage 30-27-9

Checkers lineup:

Philippe Cornet-Brett Sutter-Chris Terry
Nicolas Blanchard-Sean Dolan-Justin Shugg
Zach Boychuk-Victor Rask-Matt Pistilli
Matt Marquardt-Brody Sutter-Jared Staal

Michal Jordan-Danny Biega
Rasmus Rissanen-Matt Corrente
Ryan Murphy-Mark Flood

John Muse
Mike Murphy

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson & Phil Di Giuseppe (both newly signed)

Injured: Aaron Palushaj (ruled out for this weekend), Greg Nemisz and Brandon Woods have each been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season.


Charlotte forward Zach Boychuk (2g, 3a) set a franchise-record with five points in the Checkers 7-0 win over the Wild on Wednesday. Boychuk now has 19 points (8g, 11a) in 14 games this month. … Chris Terry (27g, 38a) had three assists Wednesday to tie Boychuk’s franchise record for most points in a single season (65) set in 2010-11. … In his first game back from the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, defenseman Ryan Murphy picked up an assist on Wednesday to set a new team record with points in 12 consecutive games (1g, 14a). His point streak breaks the team record set by Bobby Sanguinetti in 2011-12. … Defenseman Michal Jordan extended his point streak to five games (1g, 5a) with an assist on Boychuk’s second goal on Wednesday. ... The Checkers are now 10-for-22 over their last four games on the power play. For the season, Charlotte has a 23.3 percent success rate, good for second in the AHL. … The Checkers leapfrogged Rochester into eighth place in the Western Conference. The Americans (30-27-10) have dropped their last nine games. … Newly signed Phil Di Giuseppe (a 2012 second round draft pick) has joined Checkers but is unlikely to see action. … With eight fights, Wednesday’s game set new franchise records for most penalty minutes by the Checkers (86), by an opposing team (162) and by both teams (248). The previous records stood at 48, 82 and 124, respectively. … Checkers third-leading scorer Aaron Palushaj has missed the last two games and is unlikely to play this weekend, but is considered day-to-day, while Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods have both been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season (9 games). … The Barons, who as of Friday afternoon had lost four of their last five, currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference. … Barons forward Matthew Ford has goals in four straight, the club’s longest goal streak this season. Ford has eight points (5g and 3a) over his last six games. … Barons second-leading scorer Roman Horak (47 points) has not played since March 15 with a lower body injury.

Standings Update:


Thursday, March 27, 2014

(Video) Wild game vaults Checkers into top eight

If the season were to come to a close today, the Charlotte Checkers would be the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, thanks to an emphatic 7-0 win over the Iowa Wild on Wednesday night in front of 4,675 at Wells Fargo Arena.

Here's a rundown of the Checkers records set on the night...

-- With five points (2g, 3a), Zach Boychuk set a new Checkers' franchise record for points in a game (previous mark was four points, which was done 15 times).

-- Boychuk recorded his first career Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, an assist and a fight)

-- The 7-0 win matched the largest margin of victory for the Checkers.

-- John Muse made 22 saves to extend his win total this season to 24, a franchise-record.

-- In his first game back from the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, defenseman Ryan Murphy picked up an assist to set a new team record with points in 12 consecutive games (1g, 14a). His point streak breaks the team record set by Bobby Sanguinetti in 2011-12

-- Chris Terry (27g, 38a) had three assists to tie Boychuk’s franchise record for most points in a single season (65) set in 2010-11

-- With eight fights, the game set new franchise records for most penalty minutes by the Checkers (86), by an opposing team (162) and by both teams (248). The previous records stood at 48, 82 and 124, respectively (videos below).

Notes: With Wednesday's win, the Checkers probability of making the playoffs jumped 13.5 percent to 51.4 percent, according to ... Defenseman Michal Jordan extended his point streak to five games (1g, 5a) with an assist on Boychuk’s second goal. ... The Checkers finished the night 4-for-5 on the power play. They are now 10-for-22 over their last four games. For the season, Charlotte has a 23.3 percent success rate, good for second in the AHL. ... The Checkers leaped past Rochester into eighth place in the Western Conference with the win. The Americans (30-26-10) have dropped their last eight games. ... Greg Nemisz, Aaron Palushaj and Brendan Woods missed the game due to injury … Matt Marquardt and Dennis Robertson were the healthy scratches.


Here's some post-game quotes from the Wild, via The Desmoines Register:

“It’s embarrassing when it comes to that,” Iowa captain Jake Dowell said. “But, we’re proud of each other for sticking up for one another and sticking up for ourselves. But, that shouldn’t have to happen again.”

“That’s not the way we like to see hockey games go because that’s not really playing hockey,” Dowell said. “That’s just brawling.”

"I just wanted to get out of that third period healthy," Checkers coach Jeff Daniels told team writer Paul Branecky on Friday. "I liked the way we handled it, but there was no need for what happened and it was actually a little embarrassing."

(s/t to @EricBoulton26 for all the video. h/t to @wyshynski who had the videos and quotes together first)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hurricanes agree to terms with Phil Di Giuseppe, assign to Charlotte

Per team release...

2012 Draft selection completed his junior season at Michigan in 2013-14

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Vice President of Hockey Operations for the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with left wing Phil Di Giuseppe on a three-year, entry-level contract. On the NHL level, the deal will pay Di Giuseppe $675,000 in 2014-15, $725,000 in 2015-16 and $775,000 in 2016-17. He will earn $70,000 per year on the American Hockey League level and the deal includes a signing bonus of $277,500.

“We’re pleased that Phil has chosen to begin his professional hockey career,” said Francis. “He’s got good size, and adds to our organization’s depth at forward.”

Di Giuseppe, 20, ranked 22nd in the Big Ten in scoring in 2013-14, totaling 13 goals and 11 assists (24 points) in 35 games for the University of Michigan. He netted game-winning goals for the Wolverines vs. Michigan State on Jan. 23, Penn State on Feb. 22 and at Ohio State on March 2. The Maple, Ont., native scored a goal to force overtime in Michigan’s Big Ten Tournament opener against Penn State, before the Wolverines fell to the Nittany Lions in double overtime to end their 2013-14 campaign.

Selected by the Hurricanes in the second round, 38th overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft, Di Giuseppe completed his college career with 33 goals, 45 assists (78 points) and 79 penalty minutes in 116 career games for Michigan.


According to Checkers team writer, Paul Branecky, Di Giuseppe is expected to join the Checkers this week. He'll join former Brown defenseman Dennis Robertson, as the second college player to sign with the Hurricanes and be assigned to Charlotte this month. 

The Hurricanes chose Di Giuseppe with their top draft choice in the 2012 NHL Draft, after trading their first-round pick as part of the deal that landed center Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh.

With forward Greg Nemisz, Aaron Palushaj, and Brendan Woods all missing Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Iowa Wild, the Checkers used Matthew Pistilli to fill their lineup. Pistilli was recently signed to a PTO from the Florida Everblades, Carolina's ECHL affiliate. 

Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry help Checkers move within a point of playoff spot

Both Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry found the back of the net on Tuesday night to help the Checkers take care of the Iowa Wild, 2-1, in front of 3,902 at the Wells Fargo Arena.

Entering the game in ninth place in the Western Conference, despite losing three of their previous four games, the Checkers managed to pull within one point of the Rochester Americans, who lost earlier in the day.

John Muse stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced to earn his franchise-record 23rd victory of the season.

The goal for Terry extended his point streak to eight games (7g, 3a), while Boychuk snapped a five game goalless streak, which was his second-longest drought of the season.

Boychuk’s 15th power-play goal (tied for most in the AHL) of the season put the Checkers up 1-0 midway through the first period.

In the second period, an apparent icing that wound up being waived off by the officials led to a goal for the Wild to even things at 1-1.

The Charlotte power play struck again in the third, when Boychuk and Michal Jordan assisted on a Terry one-timer from the right wing.

The two teams will play again on Wednesday, with the puck drop scheduled for 8:05 p.m.

Notes: Boychuk (29) and Terry (27) now rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in the AHL in goals. … Jordan’s assist on Terry’s goal extended his point streak to four games (1g, 4a). He now has 11 points (1g, 10a) in 13 games this month. … Brett Sutter, who picked up an assist on Boychuk’s goal, now has 13 points (5g, 8a) in 13 games this month. … The Checkers power play went 2-for-5 on Tuesday and improved its success rate to 22.3 percent, which ranks second in the AHL. They are 6-for-17 on the man advantage over the past three games (35.3 percent). … Rochester, who Charlotte now sits just one point behind, has lost seven straight. … Defenseman Ryan Murphy was assigned by the Hurricanes earlier in the day but was unavailable for the game. … Greg Nemisz, Aaron Palushaj (day-to-day) and Brendan Woods missed the game with injuries. ... Rookie defenseman Dennis Robertson was a healthy scratch.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

'Canes reassign Ryan Murphy to Charlotte

Per team release…

Defenseman has 12 points in 46 NHL games this season

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, 20, has totaled 12 points (2g, 10a) in 46 NHL games with the Hurricanes during his first full professional season. The Aurora, Ont., native has also played 16 AHL games for Charlotte in 2013-14, earning 18 points (1g, 17a). Murphy is tied for first among Checkers defensemen in assists this season, and was on an 11-game assist streak at the time of his recall to Carolina on March 6. 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 50 career NHL games with Carolina.


At the time of his last recall to Carolina, Murphy's 11-game point streak was tied for the longest by an AHL rookie this season.

Murphy hasn't played since suffering an injury in Columbus on March 18th. The Checkers are 7-9-0 in games that the 2011 first-rounder has appeared in this season. He is expected to be available for Tuesday night's game in Iowa.

Murphy’s return gives the Checkers eight healthy defensemen. Recent addition Dennis Robertson has been a healthy scratch the last two games. Matt Corrente, Mark Flood and Keegan Lowe rotated in and out of the lineup during Murphy’s previous stint with Charlotte.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Frustrations mounting for Mike Murphy after Checkers loss

For Mike Murphy, a frustrating season continued on Sunday.

The Checkers backup goaltender surrendered four goals in a 4-2 loss to the San Antonio Rampage, who entered the day in last place in the West Division, in front of 8,118 at Time Warner Cable Arena. 

Murphy – who started in place of an injured John Muse – finished the afternoon with 26 saves, and with the possible exception of the fourth Rampage goal, really couldn’t be held responsible for the loss, which was his fourth in a row and seventh in his last eight decisions overall.

Asked for comment following the game, Murphy declined, and, at this point, it’s tough to blame him.

Following the 25-year-old’s last start, a 40-save 3-2 loss to Lake Erie on March 16, Murphy expressed his frustrations over not being able to help a team just a few points out of the playoffs gain ground.

“I battled and I wanted to win pretty bad,” said Murphy, whose last win came on Feb. 16, following last Sunday's loss. “It’s frustrating. I’ve felt pretty good, (but) for some reason, right now, I can’t get a win. After the last one I said I was going to come out today and battle extremely hard and try to get those two points. To not get a point is unbelievable. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not very happy.”

Over his last four losses, Murphy has gotten an average of just 1.25 goals a game of support, while posting a .899 save percentage (125 saves on 139 shots).

Checkers captain Brett Sutter, who saw his six-game point streak (4g, 5a) snapped in the loss, came to his goaltender’s defense.

“We’ve got to start scoring some goals for (Murphy),” he said. “I’m not sure what our exact numbers are, but obviously we haven’t given him much support lately. We have a lot of confidence in Murphy and the last four or five games he’s played great, so we’re real confident going on the road that he’s going to be able to hold the fort for us.”

For the season, Murphy, who is the Checkers all-time leader in wins and games played, is 4-11-0, with a career-high 3.85 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage.

San Antonio’s leading scorer Bobby Butler finished the night with two goals and two assists, while Jed Ortmeyer and Wade Megan also found their way onto the scorer’s sheet.

Michal Jordan and Victor Rask each scored for the Checkers, who twice hit the post during a pivotal power play late in the third period.

“I think we did everything but score on that power play,” said Checker coach Jeff Daniels, whose squad has suddenly dropped three of its last four. “I think we were in the zone for pretty close to the full two minutes and had a lot of great looks. They did a great job of tying some sticks up there.

“This time of year, they all sting when you lose a game,” continued Daniels. “Just based on where we’re at. We’re trying to catch teams and when you’re losing you’re not catching anyone.”

The Checkers will now pack up and head to Iowa for two in a row against the Iowa Wild, who currently sit in 14th place in the Western Conference with 60 points, beginning on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m.

Jordan, who was one of the Checkers to send a shot off the post during that late power play, shed some light on how tough the loss was, as well as, the way the team is pulling for Murphy.

“Every loss, especially this time of year is very tough, especially when Murphy’s back there,” said Jordan, who has 10 points (1g, 9a) in 12 games this month. “(Murphy’s) played unbelievable in the last couple games. He’s given us all these chances to win. I feel like when we get the first one it’s going to snowball and lead to a couple more for him.”

Notes: With assists on both of the Checkers goals on Sunday, Chris Terry extended his point streak to seven games (6g, 4a). Terry now has points in 12 of his last 13 games (8g, 8a) and 61 points for the season (26g, 35a), placing him just three points shy of his career high set in 2010-11 (and four shy of the team record). … Michal Jordan (1g) extended his current point streak to three games. He now has 10 points (1g, 9a) in his last 12 games. … Victor Rask’s goal was his first since March 1. … Brendan Woods, Greg Nemisz and John Muse missed the game with injuries. Muse is “day-to-day” according to Checkers coach Jeff Daniels. … Dennis Robinson and Matthew Pistilli were the healthy scratches. ... Fan's were allowed to bring dogs to Sunday's game. Here's a photo thanks to @Checkershockey...

(Updated) Checkers sign Matt Pistilli and Trevor Cann to PTOs

After a physical game on Friday with the San Antonio Rampage, the Checkers have added some depth for Sunday's 1:30 puck drop, in old friend Matthew Pistilli and goaltender Trevor Cann.

Both were signed on Sunday from the Florida Everblades, Carolina's ECHL affiliate.

Checkers regular netminder John Muse did not participate in Sunday's pre-game skate and there are rumors that he's out with an injury, although he didn't look uncomfortable during Friday's 4-3 win over the Rampage.

The stint in Charlotte will be Pistilli's third this season. He has 12 points (5g, 7a) in 27 AHL games with the Checkers and Bridgeport this season. With forwards Brandon Woods and Greg Nemisz both potentially out for the remainder of the season with injuries, Pistilli adds some much needed depth at the position.

Cann is a 24-year-old former second round pick (in 2007) of the Colorado Avalanche. He went 14-9-1 with a 3.00 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage with the Everblades this season. He has played in 45 career AHL games, posting a 14-25-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage.

Should Cann appear in a game for the Checkers this season, he would become the 10th different goaltender to start a game in net for Charlotte, extending what is already a franchise record.

Mike Murphy, who is on a personal three-game losing streak (despite making at least 27 saves in each), will get the start in net for the Checkers today.


Update: After backing up Mike Murphy is during the Checkers 4-2 loss to San Antonio at Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday, Cann has been released from his PTO.

The Checkers felt that John Muse -- who coach Jeff Daniels said was "day-to-day"following Sunday's games -- was healthy enough to travel with the team to Iowa.

Pistilli, who was a healthy scratch on Sunday, is set to travel with the team to Iowa.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Chris Terry stays hot in Checkers 4-3 win over Rampage

Two goals by Chris Terry and a Checkers power-play until clicking on all cylinders helped Charlotte move past San Antonio, 4-3, on Friday night in front of 8,213 at Time Warner Cable Arena.

One of the Checkers best second periods of the season began with Aaron Palushaj crumbling to the ice.

After a scoreless – and relatively flat – first 25 minutes against the Rampage on Friday night, the Checkers, as well as the 8,213 on hand at Time Warner Cable Arena, came to life after seeing San Antonio defenseman Greg Zanon send Palushaj face-first into the boards.

Zanon headed to the penalty box for boarding, only to be joined seven seconds later by his teammate John Lee, who was found guilty of the same infraction, while Palushaj picked himself up and remained in the game.

The penalties set up one minute and 53 seconds of five-on-three play for the Checkers.
With time winding down on the power play, the Checkers had generated several scoring chances, but had not found the back of the net.

“There was something like 38 seconds left and I just said to the guys, ‘Relax, we still have time here,’” said Checkers assistant captain Chris Terry. “I just tried to calm them down and, you know, say all it takes is one shot and we’re up 1-0.”

With seven seconds of five-on-three play remaining, Terry made good on those words, sending a shot from the point through the legs of a screening Brett Sutter (1 assist) and past San Antonio goaltender Michael Houser (41 saves).

The goal was the first of three Checkers power-play strikes on the night, and set the tone for what ultimately turned into a 4-3 victory for Charlotte.

The Checkers went on to score two more goals in the second, with Palushaj and Brody Sutter doing the honors, before allowing a San Antonio goal with 20 seconds to play in the frame. 

Although the late goal put a damper on an otherwise inspired period, the Checkers still managed to outshoot the Rampage, 21-9.

In the third, goals by John McFarland and Matt Gilroy tied the game at 3-3 with 8:41 to play.

Gilroy’s goal came after Checkers defenseman Michal Jordan had fallen at the blue line due to contact with another Rampage player.

However, again the Checkers’ power play had an answer.

When San Antonio defenseman Ryan Whitney was sent off for cross-checking at the 14:30 mark in the third, Charlotte’s power-play unit took to the ice and with 4:01 remaining in the game, another blast from the point by Terry, with Sutter once again screening, found the back of the net.

“None of us wanted to see them tie the game,” said Terry, “but the power play was good for us tonight -- three goals. It stepped up. Sometimes it’s not how many you score, it’s when you score and tonight (the power play) did what it needed to do.”

The two-goal night for Terry extended his current scoring streak to five games and his point streak to six. Over his last 25 games, Terry now has 31 points (12g, 19a).

“Things are working well,” said Terry. “I’m just trying to put pucks on net. I got good screens by Sutter on both goals. You go through streaks like this where you can’t miss almost.”

The Checkers (32-29-3), who finished the night three-for-six on the man advantage, will face the Rampage (25-29-9) again on Sunday.

Asked about how he feels about his game going into Sunday, Terry responded: “Things are going in right now and I’m going to keep shooting.”

Getting to know the newly signed Dennis Robertson

Caught up with Dennis Robertson in between the first and second period of Friday’s game between the Checkers and Rampage.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound, left-shot defenseman arrived in Charlotte on Thursday night and made it to the Checkers morning skate the following day. 

The 22-year-old signed a two-year, entry level-contract with the Hurricanes on Thursday. He was originally drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL draft. Carolina acquired his negotiation rights as part of the John-Michael Liles-Tim Gleanson trade on 1/1/14.

A two-year captain at Brown University, Robertson scored 70 points (17g, 53a) during his four years with the Bears and led the team in power-play goals (5), plus/minus (+11), blocked shots (56) and penalty minutes (78) in his senior season 

Q: Have you ever been to Charlotte before?

Robertson: No, I’ve never been. I’m from a very small town in British Columbia (Forth St. John), so this whole area is kind of new to me. 

Q: Familiar with anyone already on the Checkers?

Robertson: I’ve played against (Danny) Biega (who played for Harvard). The rest of the guys, I’ve never met any of them, but with hockey being so small and (tight knit), I knew a few guys who knew them. It’s a small world in that way.

Q: How was morning skate?

Robertson: I talked to a couple of the college guys that came in here last year. I mean, it’s just day 1. We just had one skate there and I stayed late with (Hurricanes Director of Defensemen Development) Glen Wesley there doing some extra work and he put me through the ringer a bit, but that’s good.

Q: Has the team given you any idea when you might play and what your role could be?

Robertson: They didn’t mention anything explicitly, you know. They said that I’m here to be a part of the team. They said that I have to be ready to get a chance. They have seven (defensemen) and if they ever put me in the lineup I need to be ready to go. They didn’t try to overwhelm me on my first day with systems and stuff like that. They just wanted to start getting me comfortable and go from there.

Q: Describe your style of play and what you bring to a hockey team.

Robertson: I’m a physical player, a guy that’s going to be solid defensively. I can make some plays coming out of our zone, if I can chip in offensively with a shot of two, that’s great.

*For those interested in such things, Robertson will wear No. 20. 

Game 64 Preview: San Antonio Rampage at Charlotte Checkers

After a stretch of seven wins in eight games brought the Checkers to within four points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Charlotte has hit a bit of a bump with back-to-back losses. Luckily for the Checkers, Rockford – who currently holds that final spot – hasn’t been able to stretch its points lead past four.

Tonight (and Sunday) the Checkers will play host to the San Antonio Rampage, who ranks last in the West Division with 59 points. 

Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m.

TV/Radio info: Video TWC CH. 521 / Audio 730 AM Charlotte

Records: Checkers 31-29-1-2, Rampage 25-28-3-6

Projected Checkers lineup:

Chris Terry-Brett Sutter-Justin Shugg
Zach Boychuk-Sean Dolan-Aaron Palushaj
Philippe Cornet-Brody Sutter-Nicolas Blanchard
Matt Marquardt-Victor Rask-Jared Staal

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

John Muse
Mike Murphy

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson (newly signed)

Injured: Greg Nemisz, Brandon Woods


Chris Terry (4 goals, 2 assists) and Brett Sutter (4g, 4a) both have five-game point streaks. … Terry’s 57 points (24g, 33a) this season rank sixth in the AHL, while his teammate, Zach Boychuk, ranks eighth with 56 points (28g, 28a). … Another Checker to watch is center Sean Dolan, who has four goals and four assists this month after entering February with just six points (1g, 5a) overall. … On Thursday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced the signing of former Brown University defenseman Dennis Robertson, 22. His rights were acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the trade involving John-Michael Liles and Tim Gleason in January. Robertson scored 70 points (17g, 53a) and recorded 267 penalty minutes in 128 games with Brown. Although his status is uncertain at the moment, the Checkers didn’t rule out the possibility that the 2011 sixth-round pick could see the ice this weekend. … San Antonio center Vincent Trocheck is 11th in the AHL in scoring among rookies with 41 points (16g, 25a). … The Rampage is 2-7-0-1 in its past 10 games. … Forwards Brandon Woods and Greg Nemisz are not expected to play due to injuries.

Standings Update:


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hurricanes agree to terms with Dennis Robertson, assign to Charlotte

Per team release...

Defenseman recently completed four-year career at Brown University

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Vice President of Hockey Operations for the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Dennis Robertson on a two-year, entry-level contract. In the first year, the deal will pay Robertson $550,000 at the NHL level, or $60,000 at the American Hockey League (AHL) level. In the second year, he will earn $575,000 in the NHL, or $60,000 in the AHL, and the deal pays Robertson a $120,000 signing bonus. He will join Carolina’s AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.

“Dennis had a very good collegiate career at Brown, and was consistently recognized for his play and leadership,” said Francis. “We are excited to see him begin his professional career.”

Robertson, 22, recently completed his senior season at Brown University, and was named First-Team All-Ivy and was a finalist for ECAC Best Defensive Defenseman. He served his second consecutive season as the team’s captain, and led all Bears skaters with a plus-11 plus/minus rating, 78 penalty minutes, five power-play goals and 56 blocked shots. The Fort St. John, BC, native also led team blueliners and ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 17 points (6g, 11a) while playing in 30 of Brown’s 31 games.

Following his freshman season of 2010-11, Robertson (6’1”, 215 lbs.) was named ECAC All-Rookie and Second-Team All-Ivy, the latter of which he repeated in 2011-12. After a junior season that saw him serve as Brown’s captain and lead the team in assists (17) and blocked shots (65), he was named First-Team All-Ivy. Robertson completed his four-year collegiate career with 17 goals, 53 assists (70 points), 12 power-play goals, 210 blocked shots and 267 penalty minutes in 128 games at Brown. The Hurricanes acquired Robertson from Toronto on Jan. 1, 2014, along with John-Michael Liles in exchange for Tim Gleason. The Maple Leafs drafted Robertson in the sixth round, 173rd overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. His career statistics are below.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Checkers fall after goal in final moments is disallowed

With 19 seconds remaining in regulation and the Checkers trailing the Norfolk Admirals 4-3, Brett Sutter netted the game-tying goal. However, instead of taking the puck to center ice, the referees instead convened and chose to waive off the goal.

Though there was nothing about Sutter's goal -- which appeared to be his second of the game -- that appeared illegal, referees explained that they had called coincidental minor penalties on Zach Boychuk and the Admirals' Dave Steckel, who had gotten tangled up along the wall during the play.

Moments after play had resumed, the Admirals added to the heartbreak by scoring an empty-netter with five seconds on the clock to hand the Checkers their second loss in a row, 5-3, in front of 3,072 at Scope Arena.

After allowing the go-ahead goal with a little over four minutes to play in Sunday's 3-2 loss to Lake Erie, the Checkers again let points slip away in the third period on Wednesday, allowing Norfolk's Devante Smith-Pelly to net the game-winner with 1:58 to play.

Chris Terry, Matt Marquardt and Sutter scored for the Checkers, while John Muse -- who entered the game on a personal five-game winning streak -- stopped 23 of 27 shots to take the loss.

With both Oklahoma City and Rockford off on Wednesday, the Checkers remained in 10th place, four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference (and one point behind the ninth-placed Barons).

Terry, who spent Monday playing with the Carolina Hurricanes, returned to the Checkers lineup and got the scoring started with just three seconds remaining in the first period, when he redirected a shot from Michal Jordan.

The Admirals tied the game at, 1-1, less than two minutes into the second period. A goal with less than seven minutes to play in the frame by Marquardt, made it look like the Checkers would take a 2-1 edge into the third. However, two Admirals goals in the span of 13 seconds, beginning at the 16:55 mark changed the complexion of the game.

Brett Sutter pulled the Checkers even with the Admirals at the 7:42 mark in the third period, setting up the tense final minutes.

The Checkers have 13 games remaining on their schedule. They'll now return to Time Warner Cable Arena this Friday and Sunday where they'll face the San Antonio Rampage.

Notes: Chris Terry has now scored goals in four straight AHL games and has a five-game point streak overall (4g, 2a). ... Brett Sutter also extended his current point streak to five games (4g, 4a). ... The Checkers finished up their season-series 5-3-0 against Norfolk to win their second consecutive GEICO Challenge Cup. ... Checkers forwards Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods missed the game due to injury.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hurricanes recall Chris Terry (Updated)

Per team release...

Marks forward’s second NHL recall of 2013-14 season

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

This marks the second NHL recall this season for the 24-year-old Terry. The Brampton, Ont., native played in seven games with the Hurricanes from Nov. 7-21, averaging 11:19 of ice time per game before being reassigned to the Checkers on Nov. 22. Terry (5’10”, 195 lbs.) ranks second among Charlotte skaters this season in goals (23), assists (33) and power-play goals (11), and is tied for first on the team with 56 points in 56 games. He has scored one goal in 10 career NHL games with Carolina since being drafted by the Hurricanes in the fifth round, 132nd overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.


On Wednesday, the Hurricanes reassigned Terry to Charlotte. The forward logged 13:47 of ice time in Carolina's 3-1 win over Columbus on Tuesday, including 4:47 of power play time. He finished the game with a blocked shot. 

Terry should be back in the Checkers lineup for their game at Norfolk later tonight. He currently has a four-game AHL point streak, as well as a three-game goal streak. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Checkers drawing crowds with play despite loss on Sunday

The Checkers are in the midst of one of their best 10-game stretches of the season and it’s not a coincidence that the run has coincided with the Charlotte’s top four scorers playing their best hockey of the season.

The Checkers are 7-3-0 over their last 10 games – eight of which came on the road – and have climbed right back into playoff contention, setting up an exciting final few weeks to the season.

Despite Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Lake Erie in front of 7,892 at Time Warner Cable Arena, the Checkers (31-28-3) remain just four points behind the Rockford IceHogs for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 14 to play.

Brett Sutter, Aaron Palushaj, Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry all recorded multiple-points in Saturday’s win and Terry remained hot with a short-handed breakaway goal in Saturday’s defeat.

“Over the last month, it seems like they’ve all been going well,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels of his top four scorers. “They need to, for us to have a chance to get into the playoffs. They have a lot of pride and they’re kind of taking this team on their backs and carrying us. The other guys are following their lead.”

Boychuk (28g, 28a -- 56 points), Terry (23g, 33a -- 56) and Palushaj (21g, 34a -- 55) all entered Sunday ranked in the top 11 in the AHL in scoring. With four of the AHL’s top 10 in scoring currently playing with their perspective NHL clubs, Boychuk entered Sunday ranked third in the League with Palushaj and Terry tied for fifth.

Boychuk has 11 points (5g, 6a) in his last nine games. Terry has points in nine of his last 10 games (5g, 6a), Palushaj has 11 points (3g, 8a) in his last eight and not to be forgotten is the work Sutter has been putting in lately.

The Checkers’ captain – who on Saturday passed Zac Dalpe for third all-time on the Checkers’ scoring list and added an assist on Sunday – now has 10 points (5g, 5a) in his last 10 games.

“Things are getting interesting, every game, every point is so big for us,” said Sutter on Saturday. “We’re trying not to watch the scoreboard too much, focus on ourselves and take advantage of these home games.”

Aaron Palushaj’s impact has gone even further this season. The former second-round pick in 2007, entered Sunday tied for the AHL-lead with six game-winning goals this season.

The Checkers are 15-4 in games where he finds the back of the net.

The team’s success has shown in its recent ticket sales. With all six remaining home games either sold out or expected to sell out. Right now, you almost need to know someone to get a seat.

“We’ve got six games -- all weekend dates -- here in the month of March and we’re going to sell all six of them out,” said Checkers Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales Shawn Lynch. “People are turning out either for their first game, or hopefully, they’ve been to a game before and they’re bringing their family or friends back. It’s that kind of word-of-mouth advertising that’s catching fire for us.”

For the season, the Checkers rank eighth in the AHL in average ticket sales (6,016) – a number that is expected to rise over the coming weeks.

“I think we’ve had a good core group of guys here, with Boychuk and Terry especially,” continued Lynch. “You want to see those guys succeed. You want them to get to the NHL, but fortunately for us they’ve been here for four years now and their names are becoming familiar and they’re fan favorites here.”

The Checkers will be back in action on Wednesday, when they’ll travel to Norfolk and take on the Admirals.

Notes: Mike Murphy took the loss in net on Sunday despite stopping 40 shots. The loss was the third in a row for the Checkers' goaltender. “I thought for me, (Murphy) should have been the first star out there tonight. He gave us a chance to steal a point tonight,” said Daniels following the game. ... Sean Dolan has quietly caught fire, since February began the 26-year-old center has four goals and four assists. His play has led Daniels to move him to the second line with Boychuk and Palushaj on his wings. "Dolan has played incredible and he’s been flying every night," said Murphy following Sunday's game. "He’s extremely confident and he's been promoted, which he’s deserved. He’s been quiet about it all year. He has chemistry with the players he's (out there) with and he's putting pucks in the net and been the difference in a couple games for us." ... The Checkers split their season series with Lake Erie, despite holding them scoreless on 25 attempts over four games. ... Brendan Woods and Greg Nemiscz missed the game due to injuries. ... Austin Levi was a healthy scratch.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Palushaj, Terry, Boychuk and Sutter have big nights in Checkers win

After having to watch the Checkers play their last 10 games on the road, 8,002 fans packed Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday for Charlotte’s showdown with the Lake Erie Monsters.

For those that hadn’t been able to see the team since its last home game on Feb. 18, the Checkers – who netted three goals in the third period to break the game open – made sure it was worth the wait by securing their seventh win in their last eight games with a 5-2 victory over the Monsters.

Brett Sutter (1g, 1a), Aaron Palushaj (1g, 1), Zach Boychuk (2a), Chris Terry (1g, 1a), and Michal Jordan (2a) all recorded multiple-points in the win, as the Checkers (31-27-3) moved to within three points of idle Milwaukee for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with 15 games still to play.

“It was key to come home and start with that same winning feeling that we had on the road,” said Terry following the game. “It’s a good start to the home stand and hopefully we can keep it going.”

“I guess we were saving (our wins) for when it matters,” said Sutter. “Things are getting interesting. Every game, every point is so big for us. We're trying not to watch the scoreboard, focus on ourselves, and take advantage of these home games.”

John Muse, who entered the game fresh off a career-high 43-save performance in a 3-1 win over Texas on Wednesday, was again solid in net, turning away 35 of 37 shots.

The win brought the Checkers’ record at home to .500 (15-15-1) for the first time this season after the club opened up the year 0-6-0 in their home arena.

“It doesn’t matter where we play, we need to win games,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels, whose team went 6-3-1 during its stretch of 10 straight away games. “We’re not in a situation to let games slip by. That was why it was great to come out of that road trip over .500, but I told the guys that means nothing if we don’t take care of things at home.”

Just before the five-minute mark of the first period, Sean Dolan put the Checkers up 1-0 on a play that began with him nearly giving the puck away in his own zone.  

After the puck deflected off the stick of a Monsters’ defenseman, Palushaj was able to control it and quickly feed Boychuk, who was streaking up the middle of the ice, with Dolan on his left.

At the last moment, Boychuk slid the puck back to Dolan, for his fifth goal of the season.

Thanks to two Monsters’ penalties within 40 seconds of each other, the Checkers were able to take a 2-0 lead with 3:52 to play in the first period when Terry connected on his 22nd goal of the season with Charlotte playing 5-on-3.

A trend of flat second periods continued for the Checkers, who entered Saturday’s game having been outshot 686-650 in the second frame of games, despite carrying a positive shot differential in the first and third periods this season.

Three minutes in, the Monsters – who outshot Charlotte 12-9 in the period – cut the Checkers’ lead to 2-1 after Trevor Cheek crashed the net and forced home a puck that Muse thought he had frozen under his left pad.

A little over seven minutes later, Lake Erie defenseman Setfan Elliott’s 10th goal of the season tied the game at 2-2.

However, Charlotte came out skating in the third period and regained it’s two-goal edge just 2:34 into the period on goals by Danny Biega (set up by Boychuk) and Sutter.

With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Sutter moved two points ahead of Zac Dalpe (132) for sole possession of third place on the Checkers’ all-time points list.

"I didn’t even know that until you said it to me just now to be honest," said Sutter of passing Dalpe. "It’s pretty cool. I’ve been in Charlotte for a long time and I hope there’s more (points) coming."

Palushaj added the final bit of insurance with the Checkers on the power play midway through the third, sending a chip shot up and over Lake Erie goaltender Calvin Pickard (21 saves).

"It’s really nice to be home," said Sutter. "It’s always good to sleep in your own bed, get comfortable again, get out of the hotels. But at the same time, it was a little bit of an adjustment after spending almost a month away from this rink. It's going to be nice once we get into the swing of things here."

The Checkers and Monsters will finish up their two-game set on Sunday afternoon at 1:30. Charlotte now leads the season-series two games to one.