Friday, December 19, 2014

Game 28: San Antonio Rampage at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

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

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

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

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

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

Checkers lines: 

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

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

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: 

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Game 27: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

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

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

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

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

Checkers lines: 

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

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

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: 

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Game 26: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

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

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

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

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

Checkers lines: 

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

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

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Kyle Jean

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

Game 22: Iowa Wild at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Monday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

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

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

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

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

Checkers lines: (projected)

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

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

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Beau Schmitz, Kyle Jean, Andrew Rowe

Injured/out: Brody Sutter (undisclosed)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Game 21: Iowa Wild at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

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

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

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

Checkers lines: (updated)

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

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

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Beau Schmitz, Kyle Jean, Andrew Rowe

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Game 19: Norfok Admirals at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

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

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

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

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

Checkers projected lines: 

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

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

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: Dennis Robertson, Kyle Jean

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

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Checkers reach tentative agreement to return to Bojangles' Coliseum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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


Game 14: Norfolk Admirals at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio info: AHL Live / Online

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

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

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

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

Checkers projected lines: 

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

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

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

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

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

MacIntyre finished Monday night with 28 saves on 29 shots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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