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).

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Checkers resurrect power play in 4-1 win over Marlies

As Chad LaRose tumbled to the ice behind the Toronto Marlies’ net and the arm of the on-ice official went up, a Charlotte Checkers fan let out an audible groan.

“It’s a bad joke,” the fan said. “Our guy gets tripped and the referee goes and punishes the Checkers by putting them on the power play!”

That’s how bad Charlotte has been with a man advantage this season.

It entered Friday night just 1-for-41 (2.4 percent) over its last 11 games and ranked dead last in the American Hockey League in power-play scoring, with a season-long percentage of 8.3.

(The lowest recorded power-play percentage for a season in AHL history is 10.4, set by the Rochester Americans in 2001-02.)

The ensuing power play started out the same as so many this season, with the Checkers struggling to carry the puck into the offensive end, but then something unusual happened.

With Justin Shugg (1G, 1A) running point, the puck zipped from Checker to Checker, eventually going from the tape of Danny Biega’s stick to a waiting Trevor Carrick, whose slap shot was redirected in at the last possible moment by Ben Holmstrom with a full 23 seconds still remaining on the power play.

The special-teams goal was the first of two in the game for the Checkers, who defeated the Marlies, 4-1, in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,462 at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday.

“It got to the point where we were looking to do anything,” Checkers coach Jeff Daniels said when asked about shifting Shugg to the point on the power play. “Our power play has struggled all year and (Shugg) is a guy that’s capable of making a play.

“He’s a threat to shoot, but he can also make a play and I talked to him about it and at that point we had nothing to lose,” Daniels continued. “Tonight, it looked good.” 

It was the first time all season the Checkers (15-20-4-1) recorded more than a single power-play goal in a game and their first power-play goal on home ice since most of Charlotte was still Christmas shopping (Dec. 19).

LaRose would add the eventual game-winner during the Checkers’ next power play, thanks to an intentionally wide shot by Shugg that made its way to the assistant captain’s stick before Toronto goalie Christopher Gibson (18 saves) could react.

The win – which was made less stressful by a late goal in the third period by Shugg and an empty netter by Zach Boychuk (1G, 2A) – was the first ever against the Marlies franchise for the Checkers (1-5-0-0 all time) and avenged a 4-1 loss to Toronto (17-16-6-0) on Thursday.

Charlotte finished the night 2-for-3 with a man advantage, but their third attempt was cut short when LaRose was called for goaltender interference 10 seconds in.

They will now enjoy a four-day break before heading to Norfolk to take on the Admirals.

“It’s (frustrating),” Shugg said. “You watch teams score a couple power-play goals against us and our power play just wasn’t clicking there for about a month or two. Hopefully, we can keep this going and don’t jinx it. Special teams can win you games.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

Game 40: Toronto Marlies at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (14-20-4-1), Marlies (17-15-6-0)

The Checkers looked flat in their return to Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Marlies. Zach Boychuk scored the lone goal for Charlotte, which has now recorded two or fewer goals in 26 of its last 39 games and nine of its last 10 overall. The road win extended the Marlies current point streak to 10 games.

Following Friday night's game, the Checkers will have four days to rest and recuperate before traveling to Norfolk to take on the Admirals.

NotesZach Boychuk's goal on Thursday gave hime 104 for his Checkers career and tied him with old friend Chris Terry for the franchise's all-time goals record. ... Chad LaRose -- who gave his first interview of the season to ESPN earlier this week -- leads the Checkers in scoring (9-11-20) and has recorded points in three of his last five games. ... The Checkers released forward Andrew Rowe from his professional tryout contract just prior to their game on Thursday and immediately following the loss, reassigned defenseman Austin Levi to Stockton of the ECHL. ... Rowe, 26, played 28 games with the Checkers after initially beginning the season in the ECHL. During that time, he notched five points (1g, 4a). ... Levi, 22, went scoreless with no penalty minutes in four games. ... In five matchups all time, the Checkers (0-5-0-0) are yet to record a point against the Marlies.

Checkers lines: 

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

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

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: Alex Aleardi.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Game 39: Toronto Marlies at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (14-19-4-1), Marlies (16-15-6-0)

The Checkers return to Time Warner Cable Arena fresh off a 3-2 shootout victory in Rockford on Tuesday to host a pair of games against the Toronto Marlies, Charlotte goaltender Drew MacIntyre’s former team, this Thursday and Friday.

In Tuesday’s outing MacIntyre, 31, made 41 saves to take over sole possession of 10th place on the AHL’s all-time wins list with 204 career victories. It appears as thought Brody Sutter (lower body) will be able to return tonight from an injury that has kept him off the ice since mid-November.

Notes: Following this past Tuesday's game, Andrej Nestrasil (conditioning stint) was recalled to Raleigh by Carolina. Nestrasil, 23, appeared in three road games for Charlotte and was held scoreless. … With 18 points in 36 games, Brendan Woods (who scored on Tuesday) has now more than doubled the eight points he posted as a rookie in 42 games last season. … After going 0-for-4 on Tuesday, the Checkers are now 1-for-38 on the power play over their last 10 games (2.6 percent). That mark should improve with the additions of both Zach Boychuk and Michal Jordan, who cleared waivers at noon Thursday and were resigned by the Checkers. ... In Boychuk, the Checkers receive the AHL’s reigning goal-scoring champion (36 last season), who should provide a boost to an offense that ranks 28th in the league with an average of 2.26 per contest. Boychuk also led the league in power-play goals with 18; something the 30th-ranked Checkers (9.1 percent) are in dire need of some help with. … Boychuk is only two goals away from tying Chris Terry for the franchise’s all-time lead (104). ... In Jordan, Charlotte gets back its captain and best overall defender.

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

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

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Austin Levi, Carter Sandlak.

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

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Justin Shugg's three-point afternoon helps Checkers pummel Stars, 5-2

The Checkers tapped their sticks against the boards a bit louder than usual as Kyle Hagel made his way from the penalty box to the bench early in the first period of Sunday afternoon’s game.

Hagel, who earned the sign of respect from his teammates -- as well as what will likely be pretty decent shiner -- set the tone early for what became a 5-2 Checkers' win over the Texas Stars at Time Warner Cable Arena with his 12th fighting major of the season.

After squandering a third-period lead in a loss to the Stars on Saturday, Charlotte (12-18-3-1) came out of the dressing room flying, and held Texas (14-11-8-0) without a shot for the first eight minutes of regulation.
  
By the time the horn signaled the end of the first period, the Checkers – thanks to goals by Justin Shugg and Keegan Lowe – held a 2-0 lead and had firmly established themselves as the more physical of the two teams on the ice on Sunday.
  
Drew MacIntyre, who missed the previous four games while competing for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup in Switzerland, returned to the net for Charlotte and finished the game with 26 saves to help the team snap a four-game winless streak.

The goal for Shugg (one goal, two assists), which came on a second effort after his initial shot was stopped by Jussi Rynnas (20 saves), was his second in lass than 24 hours and extended his team-leading total to 12 on the season.

Shugg’s line (Shugg-Ben Holmstrom-Phil Di Giuseppe) struck again at the midway point in the first when the puck zipped from the tape of Holmstrom’s stick to Shugg’s before finding Lowe (one goal, on assist) for the one-timer.

Patrick Brown redirected a shot in early in the second for first professional goal to gave Charlotte a three-goal edge and Alex Aleardi (recalled from the ECHL earlier in the day) helped the Checkers respond to a Texas goal with his third tally of the season.

Trevor Carrick added a short-handed empty-netter with a little more than six minutes to play in the third period to cap the Charlotte scoring.   

It was the 12th time this season the Checkers – who entered the day 29th in the AHL in scoring (2.18 goals per game) -- have scored three or more times in a game. The five-goal outburst was one short of the team's season high, which came in a 6-2 win over Norwich on Nov. 18.

The Checkers -- who moved two points ahead of the last-place Iowa Wild in the West Division -- will now head out on a four-game road trip, beginning with two games against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Notes: Justin Shugg (12-5-17) has goals and points in each of his last three games (Dec. 31-Jan. 4: 3g, 2a). In just 23 games this season, the fourth-year forward is now just four goals shy of his career high set in 75 games last season. ... Today's game concluded a stretch in which Charlotte played 11 consecutive games against the West Division. The Checkers are 7-11-3 in divisional play this season. ... The Checkers are a perfect 22-for-22 on the penalty kill over their last seven games dating back to Dec. 19, their longest streak of the season. 


Game 34: Texas Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Sunday, 3 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 11-18-3-1, Stars 14-10-8-0

The Checkers' 4-1 loss to the Stars on Saturday extended their current winless streak to four games. The loss marked the first time in which Charlotte has taken a lead into the third period of a game and not recorded at least a point (8-1-2). Justin Shugg scored his team-leading 11th goal and John Muse -- starting for the fourth-consecutive game -- made 30 saves (on 33 shots).

After Sunday, the Checkers -- who have fallen into a tie with the Iowa Wild for last in the West Division -- will head out on a four-game road trip, beginning with two games against the Grand Rapids Griffins (17-11-3-1).

NotesDrew MacIntyre will get the start in net for the Checkers after missing three games (he sat out on Saturday) while competing for the Spengler Cup in Switzerland. MacIntyre’s team was eliminated from Cup play on Dec. 30. ... The Checkers recalled forward Alex Aleardi from the ECHL's Florida Everblades on Sunday. He will likely start in place of Gabriel Desjardins, who left Saturday's game with an injury. Aleardi, 22, has scored 17 points (7g, 10a) in 15 games with the Everblades since the Checkers, who signed him to an AHL contract this past offseason, assigned him there for the first time on Nov. 25. ... Chad LaRose (7-10-17) leads the team in scoring and has points in five of his last six games. ... Brendan Woods (6-9-17) ranks second in points and assists. ... Phil Di Giuseppe (6-7-13) has three goals in his last five games. ... Sunday marks the seventh of eight meetings between the Checkers and Texas this season. In 26 all-time contests between the two clubs, the Checkers hold a 10-12-4 record, including a 6-6-1 mark at Time Warner Cable Arena. ... Today's game concludes a set of 11 consecutive games agains the West Division for Charlotte. The Checkers are 6-11-3 in divisional play this season.

Checkers lines: 

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

Rasmus Rissanen-Danny Biega
Trevor Carrick-Keegan Lowe
Dennis Robertson-Austin Levi

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: none.

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

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Game 33: Texas Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers 11-17-3-1, Stars 13-10-8-0

The Checkers return to Charlotte and Time Warner Cable Arena looking to snap a three-game post-holiday slide with a quick two-game series against the Texas Stars, beginning Saturday night and concluding with a 3 p.m game on Sunday.

After Sunday, the Checkers will head out on a four-game road trip, beginning with two games against the Grand Rapids Griffins (17-11-3-1).

Notes: John Muse has started the past three games in net for the Checkers with Drew MacIntyre competing for the Spengler Cup in Switzerland. MacIntyre’s team was eliminated from Cup play on Dec. 30. ... With MacIntyre back on North American soil, the Checkers reassigned goalie Daniel Altshuller to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. A third-round pick in 2012, Altshuller backed up Muse for all three games that MacIntyre missed and is still awaiting his AHL debut. ... Following Friday morning’s practice, Checkers coach Jeff Daniels confirmed that the team has released forward A.J. Jenks from his professional tryout contract. ... Veteran Chad LaRose, who is tied for the Checkers’ scoring lead with 17 points, is questionable to play this weekend’s games due to an injury that kept him out of the team’s last game on Wednesday. ... The Checkers struggles away from Time Warner Cable Arena following the holiday dropped their record to 3-11-2 on the road this season. ... Saturday marks the sixth of eight meetings between the Checkers and Texas this season, with the teams alternating victories. In 25 all-time contests, the Checkers hold a 10-11-4 record, including a 6-5-1 mark at Time Warner Cable Arena. ... Charlotte is in the midst of a stretch in which it plays 11 consecutive games agains the West Division. The Checkers are 6-10-3 in divisional play this season.

Checkers lines: 

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

Rasmus Rissanen-Danny Biega
Trevor Carrick-Keegan Lowe
Dennis Robertson-Austin Levi

John Muse
Drew MacIntyre

Healthy scratches: none.

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Game 29: San Antonio Rampage at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

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

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

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

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

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

Checkers lines: 

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

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

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: Gabriel Desjardins

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Game 28: San Antonio Rampage at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Friday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

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

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

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

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

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

Checkers lines: 

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

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

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse

Healthy scratches: 

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