The Charlotte Checkers came close to pulling off another undefeated week. They would best the Rockford Ice Hogs in a 2-0 game on Friday (Feb.17), but they would lose in overtime to the Milwaukee Admirals 5-4 on Saturday (Feb. 18).
Three stars of the week
Andrew Poturalski provided the Checkers with one of the best performances of the week. He tipped in the team’s second goal during its victory on Friday night and added an assist in each game. In his first full professional season, Poturalski continues to illustrate his impressive playmaking skills. He currently leads the team with an impressive 24 assists; Jake Chelios is a distant second with 18. He also displays great confidence carrying the puck up the ice through the neutral zone and setting the offense up on the powerplay. With a slight improvement to his finishing skills, he will make a serious case to make the Canes’ roster next year. The next star is Andrew Miller who got a chance to play second line minutes after the recent call up of Phil Di Giuseppe, and boy, he did not disappoint. The skilled forward was acquired from last season’s AHL trade deadline in exchange for Hurricanes’ former first round draft pick Zach Boychuk. Miller tallied a crafty goal and two assists in the Checkers’ game Saturday night. While he is not at the same skill level, his playing style resembles former Hurricanes’ favorite, Ray Whitney, while he is on the ice. He is a heady player and has a terrific sense of where his teammates are on ice at all times. This leads to him being able to set up his line mates for quality chances almost every time he touches the puck in the offensive zone. Finally, no one stepped up more in the absence of Phil Di Giuseppe than Valentin Zykov. He played some of his best hockey of the season, scoring a goal in each game and also tallying two assists during the Checkers’ game on Saturday. Zykov looked as if he had an extra step in his game and was showing some speed with the puck that I do not think that I have seen from him this season. He also did his usual solid job of controlling the puck in the corners on offense and using his size to his advantage to fend off opposing defensemen.
Lucas Wallmark had himself a solid week of play on the second line for the Checkers. The 21-year old from Sweden scored a goal and put up an assist during the team’s game Saturday night. He didn’t miss a beat playing with his new line mate, Andrew Miller and was still the patient playmaker that he always is. He had multiple plays on even strength and the power play where was able to fake out the opposing team by holding the puck and just being patient, causing the opposition to overcommit to the pass or the shot they assumed he was going take. Kris Newbury stepped up in his first action on the first line. The veteran AHL forward scored the Checkers’ second goal during the team’s Saturday night game by going to the front and positioning himself right in front of the goalie to receive a one time pass from the corner. He provided solid, competent play and was not, at any point, a detriment to his line.
Trevor Carrick did not have his best week of the season. The big defensemen from Stouffville, Ontario did not register a single point over the weekend, and he was one of only two Checkers to finish Saturday nights game -2. He didn’t do a lot of what Trevor Carrick does best and that is to get pucks to the net on offense and be the team’s most consistent defensemen on breaking the puck out of the defensive zone. He only had two shots in both games combined, and he looked shaky at times on the breakout and on defense, turning the puck over to the opposing team a couple of times. Don’t expect this to be consistent for Carrick and watch for him to bounce back next week.
Injuries and roster notes
Sergey Tolchinsky, Patrick Dwyer, Brendan Woods, Kyle Hagel, and Michael Leighton missed both games due to injury. Kevin Raine was the only player scratched. On Saturday (Feb. 18) the Hurricanes called up forward Phil Di Giuseppe. On Tuesday (Feb. 21) the Hurricanes traded Keegan Lowe for Philip Samuelsson son of Checkers’ head coach Ulf Samuelsson.
Forward lines as of now
- First line: Kris Newbury-Andrew Poturalski-Andrej Nestrasil
- Second line: Valentin Zykov-Lucas Wallmark-Andrew Miller
- Third line: Connor Brickley-Patrick Brown-Levko Koper
- Fourth line: Clark Bishop-Erik Karlsson-Mitchell Heard
Defensive pairings as of now
- First pairing: Haydn Fleury-Jake Chelios
- Second pairing: Trevor Carrick-Roland McKeown
- Third pairing: Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe (written pre-trade)