The Checkers made it clear that they intended on making a push for the playoffs when they sent Zach Boychuk to Bakersfield on loan for high-scoring forward Andrew Miller.

The Edmonton Oilers prospect, Andrew Miller appeared in forty-four games with Bakersfield this season and he almost had as many points as he did games with thirty-nine. He also had fourteen more points than Boychuk this season in twelve fewer games. The Checkers needed more offense, and they got it in a big way.

Miller played at Yale University from 2009-2013. Leading Yale his senior year, he played a key role in leading Yale to its first National Championship. He scored the overtime goal in the Frozen Four to send them to the title game, and he also tallied another goal in the championship game itself. For his stellar play in the tournament, Miller was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. He went undrafted throughout his college career and signed with Edmonton in 2013 to an entry level deal. Last year with Oklahoma City, Miller put up sixty points in sixty-three games and was the Barons leading scorer.

While Miller is a high scorer on the collegiate and minor league level, he will need to take a step up when it comes to the NHL. He is not the biggest player, but he does pass the puck well and it has led to high assist numbers almost everywhere he has played. Because of his lack of scoring on the highest level, he probably compares best to the guy they sent away to get him. They are both high scoring players on the AHL level. Miller is just doing a better job of consistently putting up points this season. Don’t look for Miller to be called up to the Hurricanes at any point for the rest of the season. He has been brought in for the playoff push that the Checkers need to make, so they can give their young prospects even more time to develop.


The Checkers are showing that they have their confidence back this past week. They bested Chicago on Thursday (Mar. 10) by a score of 3-1. They took care of Rockford on Saturday and Sunday (Mar. 12, 13) beating them 6-3 and 4-1. Finally, they did slip up on Tuesday (Mar. 15) against Rockford losing 1-0 but still finished with a solid 3-1 record over the past 4 games.


Three Stars of the week

Kyle Hagel is playing his best hockey of the season by far and it is coming in the most important stretch. Hagel came into the week with five points to his name in sixty-one games. This week Hagel tallied three points in the four games the team played and he even put a little fire in the team with his fight on Thursday. John Muse manned the nets for all three of the Checkers victories. What cannot be measured is the confidence Muse gives the team with the way that he is playing. The team just looks like it is playing more confident, because they are confident in their goalie. The Checkers played their best hockey of the season when they were being led by a goaltender that was on a hot streak. They have that now, and with Muse playing well, the team needs to keep taking advantage. Blair Jones made his impact felt in a large way on Thursday night. He was able to score two of the Checkers three goals, one of which he was able to skate the puck into the offensive zone by himself, get off a good shot close to the net, and tap in his own rebound off that shot all while he had Chicago defenders all over him. Jones also netted another goal on Sunday to ice the game and secure a Checkers victory.


Who’s Hot

Patrick Brown put in solid minutes for the Checkers on the fourth line. He had three points and he even scored the game winner against Rockford on Sunday night. Andrew Miller netted his second goal as a Checker on Sunday night. Miller is now only seven goals away from tying Zach Boychuk’s goal total with the Checkers this season and he has only played in five games with the team.



Who’s Not

Unfortunately for Daniel Altshuller, the only game he started for the Checkers the past week they lost. It also ended up being the only loss the Checkers had amongst the four games they played. Because of that and the way the team has been playing as of late, Altshuller will land in this category at least one more week. He really did not play a bad game stopping thirty-four of the thirty-five shots he faced. The team just was not able to get the victory when he was in net.



Injury and roster notes

Danny Biega and Valentin Zykov missed all four games due to injury. Dane Fox and Brock McGinn missed the last three games due to injury. Rasmus Rissanen missed one game due to injury. The Checkers assigned Erik Karlsson to Florida on Thursday (Mar. 10). The Hurricanes assigned Brendan Woods back down to Charlotte on Saturday (Mar. 12). The Hurricanes recalled Brody Sutter from Charlotte on Sunday (Mar. 13). The Hurricanes recalled Trevor Carrick from Charlotte on Tuesday (Mar. 15).



Forward lines as of now

First line: Brock McGinn-Derek Ryan-Justin Shugg

Second line: Ethan Werek-Andrew Miller-Sergey Tolchinsky

Third line: Anthony Camara-Blair Jones-Brody Sutter

Fourth line: Kyle Hagel-David Wohlberg-Patrick Brown

Defensive pairings as of now

First pairing: Rasmus Rissanen-Dennis Robertson

Second pairing: Keegan Lowe-Mike Cornell

Third pairing: Jake Chelios-Tyler Ganly


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