The Charlotte Checkers played a successful week of hockey going 3-1 over a 4 game stretch. They would beat the Cleveland Monsters 5-4 in overtime on Friday (Feb. 24) and they would beat the Monsters again 6-1 on Saturday (Feb. 25). The Checkers would then lose 5-2 to the Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday (Feb. 28) but would rebound the next day, Wednesday (Mar. 1) to be the Admirals 5-4 in a shootout.
Three stars of the week
Danny Kristo displayed right away that he fits very well into this Checkers offense. The recently acquired forward from the Ron Hainsey trade put up three assists and scored his first goal as a Checker in their victory on Wednesday night. He showed great chemistry right off the bat with his new line mate Andrew Poturalski, as they were able to feed off each other on offense sometimes and help set each other up for qualities shots around the net. Kristo also displayed some excellent stick handling skills, being able to create opportunities by himself on offense. He will be a big part to this Checkers team if they can push themselves back into the playoffs. Andrew Miller might be one of the hottest players in the AHL right now. Since coming back from injury he has been on fire as of late, most recently putting up a whopping six points in the past week of play. He tallied four assists in the Checkers victory on Saturday night and he also scored a goal in the team’s loss on Tuesday night. Miller illustrated how patient he is on offense, holding the puck sometimes until a defender was almost right on top of him before letting the puck go. This has led to him making time for his line mates to get open on offense for quality chances in and around the net almost every time they are on the rink. Andrew Poturalski had himself quite the week in a Checkers uniform. The undrafted forward from the University from New Hampshire scored three goals and tallied three more assists in the past week. He looked extremely comfortable playing with his new line mate Danny Kristo and playing with him almost looked like it added another level to Poturalski’s game. He was creating offense for his teammates all over the place, setting them up for quality shots at the net. Every goal he scored, Poturalski had positioned himself so well on offense all he had to do was tip or tap the puck into the net, without having to do anything extra with it.
Lucas Wallmark continues to be a strong consistent force on the Checkers first line. After receiving the rookie of the month award for January before the team’s game Saturday night, he would go out and tally three points for the Checkers this past week. He scored two goals in the team’s manhandling of Cleveland on Saturday night, almost in the same spot. He positioned himself right in front of the net, near the hash marks and he was able to blast two pucks home that came his way while using both Cleveland defenders as screens. Kris Newbury found himself to be a big part of the Checkers offense. While playing mostly on the fourth line Newbury found the back of the net one time and added two more assists to go along with it. He also scored the game winning goal for the Checkers in the shootout, during their victory Wednesday night.
While the Checkers won both games that he started in, Alex Nedeljkovic did not play his best hockey of the season. He let in 4 goals on 28 shots in team’s victory on Friday night, but after letting in 3 goals on 9 shots during the game Wednesday night, Nedeljkovic was pulled before the first period ended. He looked quite shaky at times, having trouble corralling some rebounds here and there, but most troubling was that he let in two goals that bounced right off his pads. After the second time, it happened he was promptly pulled for Daniel Altshuller and did not see the ice again. Look for him to rebound in his next start because no goalie at any level should be allowing three goals in the first period of play, and he is a much better goalie than that.
Charlotte Checkers injury and roster notes
Patrick Dwyer, Mitchell Heard, Kyle Hagel, and Michael Leighton missed all games due to injury. Erik Karlsson, Sergey Tolchinsky, and Bryan Bickell were all scratched at least one game. The Hurricanes recalled Andrej Nestrasil and Patrick Brown on Wednesday (Mar. 1).
Forward lines as of now
- First line: Connor Brickley-Andrew Poturalski-Danny Kristo
- Second line: Valentin Zykov-Lucas Wallmark-Andrew Miller
- Third line: Levko Koper-Brendan Woods-Sergey Tolchinsky
- Fourth line: Bryan Bickell-Erik Karlsson-Kris Newbury
Defensive pairings as of now
- First pairing: Trevor Carrick-Jake Chelios
- Second pairing: Dennis Robertson-Roland McKeown
- Third pairing: Haydn Fleury-Philip Samuelsson