Tuesday, May 12, 2015

AHL Board of Governors approves divisional alignment for 2015-16 season

Per the AHL's release... 

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced that the league’s Board of Governors, convening for its Spring Meeting today in Chicago, Ill., has approved the following division alignment for the 2015-16 AHL season (National Hockey League affiliates in parentheses):

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (PHI)
Portland Pirates (FLA)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
Springfield Falcons (ARI)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)

North Division
Albany Devils (NJ)
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Rochester Americans (BUF)
St. John’s IceCaps (MTL)
Syracuse Crunch (TB)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)
Utica Comets (VAN)

Western Conference
Central Division
Charlotte Checkers (CAR)
Chicago Wolves (STL)
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Iowa Wild (MIN)
Lake Erie Monsters (CBJ)
Manitoba Moose (WPG)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)

Pacific Division
Bakersfield Condors (EDM)
Ontario Reign (LA)
San Antonio Rampage (COL)
San Diego Gulls (ANA)
San Jose Barracuda (SJ)
Stockton Heat (CGY)
Texas Stars (DAL)

The format for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will be finalized by the Board of Governors at its Annual Meeting in Hilton Head Island, S.C., July 6-9, and the complete playing schedule for the 2015-16 regular season, which begins Oct 9, will be announced later this summer. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reactions: Jeff Daniels out as Charlotte Checkers head coach

The only coach the Charlotte Checkers have known since the team joined the American Hockey League will not be back next season.

Hurricanes Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis announced on Thursday that the organization would not be renewing Jeff Daniels’ contract for the 2015-16 season.

Francis said that the decision to part ways with Daniels – who has led the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate for the last seven seasons – wasn’t one that he took lightly, but that the organization as a whole was looking to build a new foundation.

With a young core of players already in place in Charlotte (Brock McGinn, Trevor Carrick, Phil Di Giuseppe) to go along with 10 draft picks in this year’s draft and nine the following year, Francis said that the organization felt it needed a “new voice and a new direction.”

The Checkers, who will move their home games from Time Warner Cable Arena to the Bojangles’ Coliseum next season, failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2014-15, going 31-38-6-1 to finish 13th in the Western Conference.

Daniels, who plans to stay involved in the game, said that he is going to take few days to wrap his head around things before seeing what his next step will be.

Quote
"Every coach has his own style. I don’t know if one is right or not right. It reflects their personality. (Daniels) has been calm, cool, collected and that’s how he coached as well. (Bill) Peters is a bit more fiery. We're looking for ... someone like the coach we have here. Someone to go in there, teach our young kids, make them better, and hold them accountable."  
– Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis.

"It's part of the business and it's never fun. I enjoyed my time in Charlotte. Working for the Checkers organization and Michael Kahn was a great experience. ... I want to stay involved in the game. We'll see what's out there and I'll do what's best for me and my family." -- Former Checkers coach Jeff Daniels. 

Worth mentioning
Daniels has acted as head coach and general manager of the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate since he took control of the Albany River Rats in 2008. Over that time he registered a 268-225-51 record. … Daniels said that he harbors no hard feelings and that Francis told him “It was just time for a change, a fresh face, fresh message and fresh start.” Francis, in turn, expressed respect for all that Daniels has done for the organization. … According to Francis, the Hurricanes have taken steps towards streamlining not just the same system, but terminology across all levels of their organization and that he expected that to continue going forward.   

What's next?
Francis, citing the current number of big market National Hockey League clubs currently searching for coaches, said that the Hurricanes will likely “let the dust settle” before they make a decision on the Checkers next head coach. While there was initially speculation Hurricanes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour could be in the running, Francis said this NHL staff would be remaining the same. Director of defensive development, Glen Wesley, is an interesting possibility, as well as current Iowa (AHL) assistant coach Steve Poapst, who has previously coached under Bill Peters. Francis did add that the Hurricanes are happy with the work of Checkers’ current assistant coach Geordie Kinnear and that he will be sitting down with Kinnear sometime next week to discuss where he sees his future in the organization. 

Information from Chip Alexander and Cory Lavalette (twitter) helped with the writing of this story.  

Charlotte Checkers coach Jeff Daniels' contract will not be renewed for 2015-16

per the release...

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the contract of Charlotte Checkers Head Coach Jeff Daniels will not be renewed for the 2015-16 season. Daniels had served as the franchise’s American Hockey League head coach for the past seven seasons.  

“We appreciate the years of service and hard work that Jeff provided for our organization,” said Francis.“His contract expires at the end of June, and we will now begin the process of finding a new head coach for the Checkers.”

Daniels registered a 268-225-51 record in seven seasons as head coach for Carolina’s top minor-league affiliates. He guided the Checkers to the Eastern Conference Final in 2010-11, the deepest Calder Cup Playoff run for the franchise’s AHL affiliate since the 1996-97 Springfield Falcons. Charlotte failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2014-15, going 31-38-6-1 to finish 13th in the Western Conference.

Prior to becoming a head coach on the AHL level, Daniels spent four seasons with the Hurricanes as an assistant coach, helping to guide the team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006. As a player, Daniels appeared in 425 career NHL regular-season games, winning a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992, and helping Carolina reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2002.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Game 70: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (28-35-5-1), Barons (37-23-5-3)

The Checkers kicked off their longest and last homestand of the season on a sour note this past weekend, dropping a pair of games to the Lake Erie Monsters. The loss Sunday eliminated the Checkers from American Hockey League playoff contention. They will look to finish the season on a high note starting with games Thursday and Friday against Oklahoma City.

Recent Transactions: none.

Notes: Charlotte finished March with a 7-6 record, making it the first month this season in which it finished with a winning record. … With five goals in his past five games, Checkers center Brody Sutter has doubled his output from the first 36 games of the season. He has seven points during his recent run. … Checkers goalie Drew MacIntyre ranks third in the AHL with 2,690 minutes played and is second with 1,336 saves. His next start for Charlotte will tie the franchise record for single-season games played by a goaltender (48 by Justin Pogge in 2010-11). … Defenseman Josh Wesley, son of Hurricanes legend Glen, has been skating with the Checkers since his season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers came to an end last week. It's unknown if Wesley, 18, will play against the Barons. The Hurricanes selected Wesley – a product of the Junior Hurricanes development program – in the fourth round (96th) in the 2014 NHL draft. ... The Barons enter Thursday winless in their last seven games. ... This is the 11th of 12 meetings between the two clubs this season. The Barons have taken seven of the first 10 matchups. ... The Checkers officially announced Kyle Hagel as their "Man of the Year" award winner on Thursday. The award recognizes the player from each team who makes the greatest commitment to charitable organizations and his community. In five full AHL seasons (with five different clubs), Hagel has won the award five times. That pretty much says all you need to know about the kind of guy he is off the ice...

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods-Carter Sandlak
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Justin Shugg
Kyle Hagel-Patrick Brown-Jared Staal

Trevor Carrick-Brett Pesce
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe
Austin Levi-Beau Schmitz

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse
Rasmus Tirronen

Healthy scratches: Alex Aleardi, Sean Dolan, Mike Cornell, Josh Wesley

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (knee) 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Video: 9-year-old Fort Mill native nets amazing center-ice goal like it's no big deal


Check out this video of 9-year-old Karleigh Nalette becoming the first fan ever to find the back of the net during the Charlotte Checkers' "Shoot to Win" contest this past Friday.

Karleigh, who is from Fort Mill, South Carolina, got the chance to participate in the Killingsworth Komfort Air shootout between periods and provided the highlight of the night on a day the Checkers fell 3-2 to the Lake Erie Monsters.

The goal earned Karleigh a new iPhone 6, but it's her "I do this kind of thing all the time" reaction that has this video rapidly growing in popularity.

The Checkers have run this promotion for the last two seasons and you can just tell that she never had a doubt.

High-five? Meh, sure.

(Yahoo's Puck Daddy hockey blog first posted this video)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Game 69: Lake Erie Monsters at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (28-34-5-1), Monsters (29-26-6-4)

After falling behind by two goals to the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday, the Checkers nearly rallied back late, but a controversial no-goal call in the final minute spoiled their comeback.

The Checkers, who fell 3-2 on Friday, will look to avenge that loss this afternoon in their final showdown with the Monsters this season. The Monsters have won each of their last two games against Charlotte. Sunday's game continues a six-game home stand for the Checkers that runs until April 12.

“We had our push; it was just a little too late there,” said Brock McGinn, who netted his 13th goal of the season in Friday's loss. “It’s not just a play at the end of the game there that (decides a game). We just need to focus on playing a full 60 minutes and not leaving it down to that last minute.”

*Immediately following today's game, a team of fire/medic personnel will face off against a police/sheriff team in a charity game that is free for all who were already in attendance.

Recent Transactions: The Checkers recalled rookie Carter Sandlak from the ECHL's Florida Everblades on Sunday.

*News broke on Friday that defenseman Josh Wesley, the son of former Canes' legend Glen, will join the Checkers sometime this week. Wesley, 19, became the first North Carolina-developed NHL draft pick when the Hurricanes took him in the fourth round in 2014. Rumor has it that he is already in Charlotte.

Notes: With five goals in his last four games, center Brody Sutter has doubled his goal output from the first 36 games of the season. He has seven total points during his recent four-game run. Sutter's current four-game point streak (5g, 2a) is the longest of his career, eclipsing a three-game run (0g, 3a) set from Dec. 27-30 of last season. ... With 13 points in his last 13 games, Trevor Carrick currently leads all Charlotte defensemen in goals (six), assists (21) and points (27), all of which are new records for a Checkers rookie defenseman. ... Dating back to Feb. 22, the Checkers have converted 14 of 57 power-play opportunities (24.6 percent). As a result, their power play has risen out of the league's lowest-ranked spot it had occupied since Dec. 14 and now ranks 28th in the AHL at 13.6 percent. ... The Checkers have more wins in March (6-4-0) than in any other month. Their 12 points tie January (5-6-2) for the most of any month. ... Drew MacIntyre enters Sunday one shy of 400-career AHL games.

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods- Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Patrick Brown
Kyle Hagel-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal

Trevor Carrick-Beau Schmitz
Dennis Robertson-Mike Cornell
Jordan Henry-Keegan Lowe

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse
Rasmus Tirronen

Healthy scratches: Austin Levi, Alex Aleardi, Carter Sandlak.

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (knee) 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Game 68: Lake Erie Monsters at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio info: TWC 323 / AHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (28-33-5-1), Monsters (28-26-6-4)

The Charlotte Checkers return home to take on Lake Erie riding a season-best three-game winning streak after a 3-2 victory over the Admirals in Norfolk, Va., on Wednesday. Brody Sutter scored twice in Wednesday’s win to extend his current goal streak to three games, putting him one shy of the longest by a Checkers player (Brock McGinn) this season. Drew MacIntyre made 34 saves to earn his 211th AHL win, tying him for ninth all-time.

Recent Transactions: The Checkers have been busy in this regard as of late...

Goaltender Rasmus Tirronen, an undrafted native of Finland, signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes last Sunday after finishing his collegiate career at Merrimack College. In his senior year with Merrimack, Tirronen set the program's single-season record for save percentage (.929) while posting a 2.30 goals-against average. He ended his career with the fourth-most all-time wins in school history. Tirronen is currently in Charlotte and participated in the Checkers morning skate.

Former University of New Hampshire defenseman Brett Pesce signed an entry-level deal with the Hurricanes on Friday and is expected to report to Charlotte later this week. A third-round pick in the 2013 draft, Pesce spent three seasons at UNH, totaling 43 points (11g, 32a) in 110 games. He finished second among the team's defenseman in scoring this past season with 16 points in 31 games.

Plymouth Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic also signed an entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday and has been assigned to Charlotte for the remainder of the season. A second-round pick by Carolina in the 2014 draft, Nedeljkovic has played three seasons in the OHL with Plymouth, posting 65-57-16 record with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. Regardless of how well he plays, Nedeljkovic -- who is still just 19 years old -- does not meet the age-minimum for the AHL and won't be eligible to play for the Checkers next season.

News also broke on Friday that defenseman Josh Wesley, a teammate of Nedeljkovic's in Plymouth and son of former Canes' legend Glen Wesley, will also be making the trip to Charlotte. Wesley, 19, became the first North Carolina-developed NHL draft pick when the Hurricanes took him in the fourth round in 2014.

Notes: With 12 points in his last 12 games, Checkers rookie defenseman Trevor Carrick has emerged as an offensive threat. He currently leads all Charlotte blue-liners in goals (six) and assists (20), both records for a Checkers’ rookie defenseman. Of Carrick’s five multipoint games this season, four have occurred since March 1. … Friday’s game marks the first of six straight home contests for the Checkers, who are 17-13-1-1 at Time Warner Cable Arena this season. … Defenseman Keegan Lowe returned to the Charlotte lineup on Wednesday after missing 11 games with an injury. ... Chad LaRose, who turned 33 today, has one goal and one assist since making an unexpectedly early return from injury three games ago. ... The Checkers are offering an extra 10 percent off all merchandise (already 40-percent off) to fans who wear purple (to raise awareness for domestic violence prevention) to Friday’s game.

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods- Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Patrick Brown
Kyle Hagel-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal

Trevor Carrick-Beau Schmitz
Dennis Robertson-Mike Cornell
Jordan Henry-Keegan Lowe

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse
Rasmus Tirronen

Healthy scratches: Austin Levi, Alex Aleardi

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (knee) 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Game 61: Grand Rapids Griffins at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (23-31-5-1), Griffins (36-17-6-1)

The Charlotte Checkers, who narrowly missed sending Tuesday night's game to overtime thanks to a strong push with Drew MacIntyre off for an extra attacker, gave the hottest team in the AHL just about all they could handle in an eventual 3-2 loss.

Rookie left wing Brock McGinn continued his torrid offensive pace with the Checkers' first goal on Tuesday. The 21-year-old second-round pick now has seven points (6g, 1a) over his last 10 games and 20 points (11g, 9a) on the season.

Tonight is the second of four games this week for the Checkers. Following this series with the Rapids, the team will head on a season-long six-game road trip, starting with a pair of games in Oklahoma City.

Recent Transactions: The Checkers released Gabriel Desjardins from his PTO on Wednesday.

Notes: The Griffins win over the Checkers on Tuesday ran their current point streak to 16 games. That matches the longest such streak in the franchise's history and is the longest in the AHL since the 2011-12 season. ... Grand Rapids rookie Andrea Athanasiou, who scored a highlight-reel goal on Tuesday, now has 13 goals on the season. ... Zach Boychuk (10-7-17) has points in five-straight games and 10 over his last 11 contests. ... Rookie Trevor Carrick (6-13-19) leads all Checkers defenseman in scoring and has five points in his last five games. ... Justin Shugg (16-15-31) has eight points in his last nine contests. ... Tonight's game will be Brendan Woods' 99th as a professional. ... Tonight is the sixth of eight regular-season games between the Griffins and Checkers. Grand Rapids has won four of the five games thus far. ... The Griffins are 17-1-3-0 over their last 21 and currently sit first in the Western Conference.

Checkers lines:  

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Patrick Brown
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods- Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal

Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Mike Cornell
Austin Levi-Beau Schmitz

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Carter Sandlak

Injured/out: Forwards Chad LaRose (upper Body) and Greg Nemisz (knee) and defenseman Keegan Lowe (undisclosed) have been ruled out of Thursday's game due to injuries.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Game 60: Grand Rapids Griffins at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (23-30-5-1), Griffins (35-17-6-1)

The Charlotte Checkers will close out a five-game home stand with back-to-back showdowns with the Western Conference-leading Grand Rapids Griffins beginning on Tuesday and Thursday. The Checkers are 2-1 on their current home stand and have won five of their last six overall at Time Warner Cable Arena to bring their season home record to 16-12-2.

*The Observer released a profile on Checkers' rookie forward Brock McGinn today online. It will run in print on Wednesday.

Recent Transactions: none.

Notes: Reigning AHL goal-scoring champion Zach Boychuk has found his scoring touch of late with six goals and nine points in his last ten games. Boychuk is the Checkers' all-time leader with 112 goals in 267 games played. He is currently riding a four-game point streak, tied for the longest active streak on the team with Trevor Carrick (2G, 3A). Carrick currently leads all Checkers defensemen in goals (6) and points (19) and is tied for seventh among AHL rookie blue liners in scoring. ... Patrick Brown recorded his first pro fight during Charlotte's 4-2 win over Norfolk on Sunday. ... Charlotte's 7-18-4 mark on the road is the worst in the AHL this season. ... Following Thursday's game, the Checkers will take off on their longest road trip of the season, beginning Saturday in Oklahoma City. ... The Griffins are 9-0-1-0 over their last 10 games and enter Charlotte well rested after a 3-2 overtime win over the Rockford Ice Hogs on Saturday.

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Patrick Brown
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods- Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal

Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Mike Cornell
Austin Levi-Beau Schmitz

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Kyle Hagel

Injured/out: Forwards Gabriel Desjardins (undisclosed), Chad LaRose (upper Body) and Greg Nemisz (knee) and defenseman Keegan Lowe (undisclosed) have been ruled out of Tuesday's game due to injuries.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Game 59: Norfolk Admirals at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (22-30-5-1), Admirals (22-29-4-3)

The Charlotte Checkers entered Thursday’s contest in search of a franchise-best fifth-straight home win, but came up short, falling 5-2 to the San Antonio Rampage. The club will look to start another streak beginning Sunday afternoon when they host the Eastern Conference cellar-dwelling Norfolk Admirals.

Recent Transactions: none.

Notes: After taking a couple games to get back into rhythm following his return from the NHL midway through the season, Zach Boychuk has gotten back on track with six goals in his last nine games, including goals in three straight contests. … Rookie defenseman Trevor Carrick has points in a career-best three-straight games and goals in each of his last two. … The Checkers improved to 2-2-2 against Norfolk this season with a 4-3 shootout win in their last meeting on Feb. 16. Three of the last four matchups between the two clubs have gone to overtime. … Extra hockey could work in the Checkers’ favor, as goaltender Drew MacIntyre has been nearly perfect in shootouts this season, stopping 19 of 20. … The Admirals are winless in their last four contests and 3-5-1-1 over their last 10. … Sunday is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day for the Checkers and there will be a postgame skate with the team. Cost of admission is $5 for those bringing their own skates and $7 for those who need to rent. All proceeds benefit the Checkers Charitable Foundation.

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Patrick Brown
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods- Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal

Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Mike Cornell
Austin Levi-Beau Schmitz

Drew MacIntyre  
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Carter Sandlak

Injured/out: Forwards Gabriel Desjardins (undisclosed), Chad LaRose (upper Body) and Greg Nemisz (knee) and defenseman Keegan Lowe (undisclosed) have been ruled out of Sunday’s matchup due to injuries.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Game 58: San Antonio Rampage at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (22-29-5-1), Rampage (31-19-5-1)

The Checkers are looking for their fifth-straight win at Time Warner Cable Arena tonight and they'll have the services of left wing Brock McGinn, who served his one-game suspension for charging on last night. McGinn has been on fire as of late with five goals in his last seven games.

Zach Boychuk and Trevor Carrick scored in regulation for the Checkers in last night's win before Danny Biega netted the deciding shootout goal. Drew MacIntyre stopped 40 of 42 shots on the night and was named the game's 1st Star.

Recent Transactions: none.

Notes: The Checkers improved to 2-2-2 against San Antonio this season with last night's 3-2 shootout win. Drew MacIntyre has been in net for each game, posting a 2.39 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. He has now stopped 19 of 20 in the shootout this season. … Zach Boychuk has seven points (5g, 2a) in his last eight games, including three power-play goals in his last four … The Rampage's game-tying goal in the third period ended the Checkers’ streak of 20 consecutive penalties killed (seven full games) since their last power-play goal allowed on Feb. 12. It was their second-longest streak of the season. … Mike Cornell earned his 250th professional penalty minute with a second-period fight on Wednesday… For more Checkers thoughts, see today's earlier post.

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Patrick Brown
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods- Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal

Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Beau Schmitz
Austin Levi-Mike Cornell

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre      

Healthy scratches: Carter Sandlak

Injured/out: Chad LaRose (upper body), Keegan Lowe (undisclosed) Greg Nemisz (out for season - knee), Gabriel Desjardins (undisclosed). 

Some Checkers thoughts...

Some lingering thoughts following the Charlotte Checkers' 3-2 shootout win over the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday night...

Excluding a shaky second period, a short-handed Checkers squad played some quality hockey in what was an exciting win on Wednesday. The only problem was, just about no one saw. Wednesday's paid attendance was 3,056.

The game was a perfect example of why the team moving to the Bojangles Coliseum next season should be a good thing for everyone.

As is, the Checkers share Time Warner Cable Arena with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, who act as the arena's main tenant. As such, the Hornets get first pick when it comes prime scheduling days, leaving the Checkers with whatever's left.

This season, and especially this month, what's left has been a ticket salesman's nightmare.

The Checkers are one game into a current five-game home stand. Here's the days they're set to play on: Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Yikes.

A member of the Checkers' staff walked by the media section on Wednesday night, scanned the largely empty arena, and shrugged.

"Safe to say you won't see a home stand like this next season," he said.

And he should be right, as the main tenants of Bojangles, the Checkers should be able to secure whatever home dates they'd like and that's important for a team that's seen its average attendance drop three seasons in a row.

Charlotte currently ranks 12th in the AHL in average attendance (5,537). That's a little more than 730 tickets a game down from last year's pace, when the team drew the seventh most fans in the AHL. The team could sellout its 10 remaining home games and still not hit last year's attendance mark (241,685).

---

Changing gears, it's tough not to feel for veteran forward Chad LaRose, who was injured during a collision that occurred during last Tuesday's practice. LaRose was leading the Checkers in points (31) and goals (16) and might have made a nice late-season addition for an NHL team looking for a fourth-line forward and some special teams help.

"LaRose is a leader for us," Checkers coach Jeff Daniels said on Wednesday. "He's got the experience... and he did a lot of good stuff for us. He's around and checking in on the guys to see how they're doing, but injuries happen and call-ups happen. We've just got to find a way to be ready to go."

---

Both Brendan Woods and Patrick Brown have started to see time at the wing as of late. It's been something Daniels has wanted to experiment with all season, but the team's lack of depth at center had prevented, both played well in their new roles on Wednesday.

---

Checkers goaltender Drew MacIntyre has stopped 19 of 20 in the shootout this season. He had lost seven of his last eight games entering Wednesday.

---

Scouts love what they've seen from rookie defenseman Trevor Carrick. Carrick scored his fifth goal of the season on Wednesday and has recorded the most penalty minutes of any Checkers' rookie this season. He's a guy that will be fun to watch as he matures.

While on the topic of Checkers' rookies, I get the feeling left wing Brock McGinn -- who has been red hot as of late -- may get a look in Carolina sooner than later. McGinn, 21, ranks tied for fourth on the Checkers and first among rookies with 19 points. He is tied for third on the team with 10 goals, five of which have come in his last seven games.

---

Here's an excerpt of Paul Branecky's story on Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya moonlighting as an AHL goaltender.

On the first day of training camp during the latter part of the Checkers’ ECHL era, a New York Rangers prospect named David Urquhart heard the locker room chatter and was confused. Finally, he approached one of the team’s goalies.  
“Why do they call you the radio guy?” he asked. 
“Because I am the radio guy,” Jason Shaya recalls saying that day, aware of the apparent absurdity of the situation. “He was probably taking shots on Henrik Lundqvist three weeks earlier and now he’s down in the ECHL taking shots on me.” 

It's an interesting read that I highly recommend if you have some free time. Here's a vine of former NHL 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley beating Shaya over the right blocker.



Shaya's response to this vine was pretty great as well...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Game 57: San Antonio Rampage at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (21-29-5-1), Rampage (31-19-5-0)

The Checkers headed north of the boarder riding a season-long three-game winning streak, but were humbled by the Marlies, who outscored them 10-4 in a two-game sweep before splitting two games in Hamilton. Charlotte now returns home, where it has won its last three contests for a mid-week back-to-back with San Antonio.

Both Keegan Lowe and Chad LaRose suffered injuries during the Toronto trip that will likely keep them out for extended time. LaRose, who currently leads the Checkers in points (31) and goals (16), may be lost for the season. The Checkers aren't disclosing the veteran's injury, but it occurred during practice last Tuesday.

"There’s no timeline, but they’re both going to miss some time," Charlotte coach Jeff Daniels told the team's website. "It’s nothing day-to-day, it’s probably more week-to-week."

Checkers' rookie LW Brock McGinn will serve his one-game suspension for a charging penalty that took place during a game at Hamilton on Feb. 28. The suspension is McGinn's second this season for an illegal hit.

Recent Transactions: Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen was recalled by Carolina on March 2. ... Tuesday afternoon, the team signed center Sean Dolan to a professional tryout contract. Dolan, 27, played 142 total games for Charlotte between the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons, scoring 31 points (14g, 17a) and recording 89 penalty minutes. The center, who has missed the majority of this season due an injury suffered in training camp with his ECHL club in South Carolina, made his season debut on Feb. 21 and has scored two points, both goals, in five games with the Stingrays. ... Defenseman Austin Levi was also added to the Checkers roster on Tuesday.

Notes: Despite scoring three or more goals in five of their last seven games, the Checkers entered Tuesday tied for the worst goals-per-game average (2.20) in the AHL. … Charlotte goaltender Drew MacIntyre is 1-7 over his last eight starts and has allowed three or more goals in all seven losses. … MacIntyre’s backup, John Muse, is 5-2 over his last seven, with a 2.28 goals-against average. … The Checkers have killed 19 consecutive penalties over their last seven games. The streak is tied for the longest this season by the team. … Charlotte's penalty kill ranks ninth in the league at 85.8 percent. … After going 29 games without a goal (Nov. 30) and 20 games without a point (Dec. 29), Checkers rookie forward Brock McGinn has five goals in his last eight games (5g, 1a). … Since returning from the ECHL's Florida Everblades on Jan. 4, forward Alex Aleardi has 14 points (8g, 6a) in 19 games, including eight in his last nine (5g, 3a). … The Rampage (178), who have gone 5-4-1 over their last 10, have scored 55 more goals than Charlotte (123) this season, which is tops in the AHL.

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Patrick Brown
Justin Shugg-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Sean Dolan-Carter Sandlak

Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Beau Schmitz
Austin Levi-Mike Cornell

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: none.

Injured/out: Chad LaRose (missing his third-straight game), Keegan Lowe (missing his second in a row) Greg Nemisz (out for season - knee), Gabriel Desjardins. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Game 52: Iowa Wild at Charlotte Checkers


Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (19-26-5-1), Wild (17-35-1-1)

The Checkers will look to extend their current winning streak to a season-long three games after disposing of the Wild, 4-1, on Wednesday. Both Brock McGinn and Chad LaRose finished Wednesday night with two goals, while Drew MacIntyre snapped a personal five-game slide with 35 saves.

The loss was the sixth in a row for the Wild, who remain the sole team currently looking up at the Checkers in the Western Conference standings.

Recent Transactions: The Carolina Hurricanes reassigned Checkers captain Michal Jordan to Charlotte on Thursday morning. Following the announcement, Hurricanes' coach Bill Peters suggested that the defenseman's stay in the AHL could be a short one.


Notes: Since returning from the ECHL's Florida Everblades, Alex Aleardi has posted 10 points (6g, 4a) in 14 games, including four in his last four (3g, 1a). … With 18 points (12g, 6a) in his last 24 games, Chad LaRose has taken sole possession of the Checkers’ scoring lead with 29 points (16g, 13a). … Checkers rookie Brock McGinn snapped a 29-game goal drought – and a 20-game point drought -- with a first-period goal in Monday’s 4-3 shootout win over Norfolk and then netted two more on Wednesday. ... Thursday's game is the Checkers third of four scheduled contests this week. Following the game, the Checkers will pack up and head to Toronto to face the Marlies on Sunday. ... Tonight's game is the sixth of eight contests between the Checkers and Wild this season. The Checkers have taken three of five.

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods-Justin Shugg
Carter Sandlak-Ben Holmstrom-Alex Aleardi
Phil Di Giuseppe-Patrick Brown-Jared Staal

Beau Schmitz-Michal Jordan
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: Kyle Hagel

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (out for season - knee), Gabriel Desjardins (missed 18 games starting 1/4), Rasmus Rissanen (undisclosed). 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Game 51: Iowa Wild at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (18-26-5-1), Wild (17-34-1-1)

The Checkers rebounded nicely from a season-long four-game losing streak by taking two of their three games this past week. They’ll have a prime opportunity to continue their roll when the Iowa Wild – the Western Conference’s current cellar dwellers -- travels to Charlotte for back-to-backs games beginning on Wednesday.

Recent Transactions: none.

Notes: Since returning from the ECHL's Florida Everblades, Alex Aleardi has posted 10 points (6g, 4a) in 13 games, including four in his last three (3g, 1a). … With 16 points (10g, 6a) in his last 23 games, Chad LaRose has taken sole possession of the Checkers’ scoring lead with 27 points (14g, 13a). … Checkers rookie Brock McGinn snapped a 29-game goal drought – and a 20-game point drought -- with a first-period goal in Monday’s 4-3 shootout win over Norfolk. McGinns ranks third on the Checkers with 101 shots on goal this season. … The Checkers rank last in the AHL on the power play with a season-long percentage of 10.7. The lowest recorded power-play percentage for a season in AHL history is 10.4, set by the Rochester Americans in 2001-02. … Brendan Woods returned to the Checkers lineup on Monday after missing six games with an undisclosed injury. Woods left the Checkers' Jan. 23 contest against the Barons after taking a hit that earned Travis Ewanyk a suspension from the league office. … The Wild enter town just 2-8 over their last 10 games and in the midst of a five-game losing streak. … Forward Tyler Graovac, who is in his second pro season, leads Iowa in points with 34 (16 goals, 18 assists).

Checkers lines: (projected)

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods-Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Patrick Brown-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Beau Schmitz
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Carter Sandlak

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (out for season - knee), Gabriel Desjardins (missed 17 games starting 1/4).

Monday, February 16, 2015

Game 50: Norfolk Admirals at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Monday, 4 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (17-26-5-1), Admirals (21-24-3-2)

The Charlotte Checkers announced on Sunday that their game against the Norfolk Admirals on Monday, Feb. 16, will now be played at 4 p.m. instead of its originally scheduled time of 7 p.m. The Checkers and Admirals agreed to make the change due to inclement weather expected in the Charlotte area. 

The Checkers will look to take advantage of home ice after earning their usual split in a two-game series in Lake Erie earlier this week. The split started with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday before the Monsters answered back with a 3-2 win on Thursday.

Transactions: The Checkers have released center Jason Bast from his PTO, suggesting that fellow centerman, Brendan Woods, may be close to returning from injury. Woods left the Checkers' Jan. 23 contest against the Barons after taking a hit that earned Travis Ewanyk a suspension from the league. The second-year center has missed six games since, but has been a regular participant in practice as of late. ... Checkers captain, Michal Jordan, is currently with the Carolina Hurricanes after being recalled by Charlotte's parent club earlier this week.

Notes: Alex Aleardi's goal on Thursday gave the forward five points in his last six games. Aleardi has shined when called upon as of late. His nine points since Jan. 4 are the second most by a Checkers player during that period, trailing only Chad LaRose’s ten. ... The Checkers, who will play three games at home this week, have dropped their last three meetings with Norfolk, but their last two contests have required overtime. ... The Admirals rank 29th in the AHL in goals per game at 2.16, just a hair above Charlotte (2.10), and were able to win their last two games despite scoring just twice in each. ... Monday's game begins a stretch of three home games in four days for the Checkers, who host the Iowa Wild on Wednesday and Thursday. ... Monday marks the fifth of eight meetings between Norfolk - the only Eastern Conference team the Checkers play this season -- and Charlotte. Including a 1-2-2 record this season, the Checkers have an all-time mark of 21-15-5 against their former East Division rival and an 11-7-2 mark at home.

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods-Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Patrick Brown-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Beau Schmitz
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: Carter Sandlak

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (out for season - knee), Gabriel Desjardins (missed 16 games starting 1/4).

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Game 47: Chicago Wolves at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (16-24-5-1), Wolves (23-18-5-1)

Morale in the Checkers' locker room hit a season-low on Friday night after the Chicago Wolves ousted Charlotte, 4-1, in a game that didn't feel as close the already lopsided score might suggest. The loss was the Checkers' third in a row. A loss in Saturday's rematch with Chicago -- which moved into the eighth and final place in the Western Conference playoff race with their win on Friday -- would mark a new season-long losing streak for the Checkers, who now sit 14 points out of a playoff spot.

Three (Lake Erie, Toronto, Hamilton) of Charlotte’s five remaining opponents in February are teams also competing for the eighth seed in the Western conference.

"It’s not going our way right now," Checkers captain Michal Jordan said following Friday's loss. "We’re not scoring many goals and we’re not winning many games, so it sucks right now. We have to battle out there as a group. Older guys have got to step up and make sure we’re going to be ready, finish strong the rest of our season, and hopefully start winning a couple of games and start pushing for that playoff spot."

Following this series, the Checkers will travel to Lake Erie for a pair of midweek contests with the Monsters.

Transactions: none.

Notes: In nine periods of play since the AHL All-Star break, the Checkers have been outscored 13-3. Their 2.13 goals-per-game average ranks last in the AHL, as well as their 9.4 power-play scoring percentage. ... If the season were to end today, both those marks would be franchise worsts. ... This weekend’s series against Chicago marks the 18th time the Checkers have faced the same opponent in two consecutive games this season. Including Friday's loss, they are a combined 3-11-4 in the first halves of those series and 10-6-1 in the second. ... Since returning from an ECHL stint on Jan. 3, Alex Aleardi has six points (3g, 3a) in nine games. ... This weekend’s contests mark the Checkers’ ninth annual “Pink in the Rink” to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancers related to women. Fans attending the games are encouraged to wear pink. Last season’s event raised approximately $45,000 for various nonprofits.

Checkers lines: 

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom-Chad LaRose
Phil Di Giuseppe-Jason Bast-Justin Shugg
Carter Sandlak-Brody Sutter-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Patrick Brown-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Michal Jordan
Trevor Carrick-Danny Biega
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Beau Schmitz, Zach Boychuk

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (out for season - knee), Gabriel Desjardins (missed 13 games starting 1/4), Brendan Woods (missed three games starting 1/30), 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Checkers streaking (in wrong direction)

After being unable to secure back-to-back wins in regulation through 46 games this season, the Charlotte Checkers can finally say that they’ve strung a few together.

The problem being, Charlotte’s current run is on the wrong side of the win-loss column.

The Checkers’ 4-1 loss to the Chicago Wolves in front of a nearly sold-out crowd at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday extended the team’s current pointless streak to a season-worst three games.  

The Checkers, who have failed to secure a point in three consecutive games on two previous occasions this season, have now been out-scored 13-3 in the nine periods since the American Hockey League All-Star break and 8-1 in their last six periods.

With 30 games remaining in the regular season and 13 points currently standing between Charlotte and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the run of futility couldn’t be coming at a worse time.

Chicago (23-18-5-1) entered the Time Warner Cable Arena just one point behind the Texas Stars for that coveted final playoff spot in the Western Conference and played like the hungrier team from the opening puck drop.

Wolves’ goaltender Jordan Binnington (38 saves) became the third straight goaltender to record a win against the Checkers (16-24-5-1), turning away all but Brody Sutter’s one-timer with just under five minutes to play in the third.

The one-goal night dropped Charlotte’s already AHL-worst goals-per-game average to 2.13.

Chicago entered the first intermission with a 1-0 lead, before exploding for three more in the second period, the last of which spelled the end of the night for Checkers’ Goaltender Drew MacIntyre (16 saves on 20 shots on goal) with 4:45 still remaining in the period.

John Muse (11 saves) did what he could to give the Checkers a chance to get back in the game. But ultimately, Sutter’s blast during garbage time was the only puck to make its way past Binnington.

The Checkers will get another shot at the Wolves on Saturday in front of what is expected to be a sellout crowd.

Beginning with Saturday’s rematch, four (Chicago, Lake Erie, Toronto, Hamilton) of Charlotte’s six opponents in February are teams also competing for the eighth seed in the conference.


It’s now or never for the Checkers.

Game 46: Chicago Wolves at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online / TWC SportsChannel 323

Records: Checkers (16-23-5-1), Wolves (22-18-5-1)

As of Friday afternoon, the Charlotte Checkers sit 13 points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot. With the season entering the home stretch, the Checkers will need to find a way to string consecutive wins together – a feat they’ve accomplished just once this season. … The Wolves (50 points) arrive one point behind the Texas Stars (51 points) for the final playoff spot in the conference and 4-4-1-1 over their last 10 games.

Beginning with Friday’s matchup, four (Chicago, Lake Erie, Toronto, Hamilton) of Charlotte’s six opponents in February are teams also competing for the eighth seed in the conference.

Transactions: Charlotte announced Friday morning that it has signed forward Jason Bast to a professional tryout contract. Bast, 25, has spent the majority of the season with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL, racking up 44 points (25g, 19a) in 43 games. He recently earned the ECHL's Rookie of the Month award for January by scoring 17 points in 14 games.

The undrafted center is tied for second in the ECHL in goals, is tied for ninth in scoring and holds a share of the scoring lead among ECHL rookies.

Notes: At Sunday’s practice, the Checkers shelved their normal routine and instead took part in a power skating session with instructor Kim Muir. Muir has over 20 years of instruction experience and has worked with the Carolina Hurricanes in development camp and training camp. Muir split the forwards and the defensemen, having each group spend roughly 45 minutes on the ice, partaking in a variety of drills focused on skating. … The Checkers lost rookie forward Brock McGinn to an injury last Friday after he absorbed a big hit from behind that drew a game-misconduct penalty. McGinn did not play Saturday. McGinn likely will join Brendan Woods (undisclosed injury) on the sideline this weekend. Woods was hurt during the Checkers’ home win over Oklahoma City on Jan. 23. … After a season-long six-game point streak (3g, 3a) that ended Saturday night, Chad LaRose has taken sole possession of the team scoring lead with 25 points (12g, 13a). … Including a 5-for-5 performance in their last game in Texas on Jan. 31, the Checkers have killed off 25 of their opponents’ last 26 power plays (96.2 percent) over their last six games. During that time, they have climbed to ninth in the AHL with a season-long percentage of 85.8. ... This weekend’s contests mark the Checkers’ ninth annual “Pink in the Rink” to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancers related to women. Fans attending the games are encouraged to wear pink. Last season’s event raised approximately $45,000 for various nonprofits.

Checkers lines: 

Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Chad LaRose
Zach Boychuk-Jason Bast-Justin Shugg
Brock McGinn-Brody Sutter-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Patrick Brown-Jared Staal

Rasmus Rissanen-Danny Biega
Trevor Carrick-Michal Jordan
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Beau Schmitz, Carter Sandlak

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (knee), Gabriel Desjardins (undisclosed), Brendan Woods (undisclosed), Brock McGinn (undisclosed) 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Game 43: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (15-21-5-1), Barons (28-9-2-3)

The Checkers will play their final game of a three-in-three set on Friday when they host the Oklahoma City Barons, who defeated Charlotte 3-1 on Thursday night, at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Checkers were outshot 18-4 in the second period of Thursday's game and outscored 3-0. Chad LaRose scored Charlotte's lone goal in the first period.

After Friday's game against the Barons, who currently hold the top record in the league, the Checkers (minus Ryan Murphy) will head home for the AHL's All-Star break. Murphy (0-12-12)  is Charlotte's lone representative in the AHL All-Star game.

Drew MacIntyre will be back in net for the Checkers after sitting out Thursday's loss. In Mac's last action, the veteran turned away 45 shots in a last-second 3-2 overtime loss to Norfolk.

Notes: The Barons have won 12 of their last 15 contests and currently hold the best record in the AHL. ... With one point scored in each of his last four games (2g, 2a), Chad LaRose has taken sole possession of the team scoring lead with 23 points (11g, 12a). The alternate captain has put up 12 of those points in his last 15 games (7g, 5a). ... The Checkers went 2-for-3 on the power play against Toronto on Jan. 16, snapping a 1-for-41 skid over their previous 11 games. The club did not get a chance to continue that momentum in Norfolk on Wednesday as it did not receive a power play for just the second time in team history (first since April 13, 2012 at Peoria). They finished 0-for-3 with a man advantage on Thursday. ... Drew MacIntyre has earned Charlotte at least a point in the standings in seven of his last nine starts. ... The Checkers are 1-5-1 against the Barons this season with four contests remaining after tonight. ... Kyle Hagel is unlikely to play with an undisclosed injury. Should he be unable to go, he'll be replaced in the lineup by Carter Sandlak.

Checkers lines: 

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom-Justin Shugg
Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Phil Di Giuseppe-Patrick Brown-Alex Aleardi
Carter Sandlak-Brendan Woods-Jared Staal

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

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson.

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (knee), Beau Schmitz (undisclosed), Gabriel Desjardins (undisclosed), Kyle Hagel (undisclosed)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Game 42: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (15-20-5-1), Barons (27-9-2-3)

The Checkers will play the middle game of a three-in-three set on Thursday as they host the Oklahoma City Barons in the first of back-to-back games at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Checkers fell, 3-2, in the last second of overtime in Norfolk on Wednesday. Though the loss was a tough one to take with Drew MacIntyre turning away 45 shots, the result still gave Charlotte points in six of its last eight games (4-2-2).

After these two games against the Barons, who currently hold the best record in the league, the Checkers (minus Ryan Murphy) will head home for the AHL's All-Star break.

Murphy (0-12-12)  is Charlotte's lone representative in the All-Star game.

Notes: The Barons have won 11 of their last 14 contests and currently hold the best record in the AHL. They rank in the top-five in goals per game, power-play percentage and boast a top-10 penalty killing unit. ... With an empty-net goal to seal the Checkers' win over Toronto on Jan. 16, Zach Boychuk became the franchise's all-time goals leader with 105, surpassing longtime teammate Chris Terry. In six games since returning from an extended NHL stint with Carolina on Jan. 8, Boychuk has four points (2g, 2a), all of which have come in his last three outings. ... With one point scored in each of his last three games (1g, 2a), Chad LaRose has taken sole posession of the team scoring lead with 22 points (10g, 12a). The alternate captain has put up 11 of those points in his last 14 games (6g, 5a). ... Kyle Hagel's goal in Norfolk on Wednesday - his 30th birthday - was his first at any level since April 12, 2013 (82 games). ... The Checkers went 2-for-3 on the power play against Toronto on Jan. 16, snapping a 1-for-41 skid over their previous 11 games. The club did not get a chance to continue that momentum in Norfolk on Wednesday as it did not receive a power play for just the second time in team history (first since April 13, 2012 at Peoria).

Checkers lines:

Brock McGinn-Ben Holmstrom-Chad LaRose
Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Justin Shugg
Phil Di Giuseppe-Brendan Woods-Alex Aleardi
Kyle Hagel-Patrick Brown-Jared Staal

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

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: Carter Sandlak, Dennis Robertson.

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (knee), Beau Schmitz (undisclosed), Gabriel Desjardins (undisclosed).