The Charlotte Checkers started the past week and a half dropping two games to the Bakersfield Condors. They would lose 5-2 on Saturday (Mar. 4) and 7-2 on Sunday (Mar. 5). They would rebound in their next two games, beating the Manitoba Moose 4-3 on Thursday (Mar. 9) and 4-1 on Friday (Mar. 10).
Charlotte Checkers three stars of the week
Continuing his impressive pace, Andrew Miller had another solid week playing on one of the Checkers’ top lines. The former Yale Bulldog recorded a goal in each of the team’s victories, and also contributed two assists. He displays his excellent vision seemingly every time he touches the puck. Miller has a tremendous amount of hockey sense, and he is able to find open teammates with no look passes catching the defense off guard and leading to quality scoring opportunities. Keeping up his consistent scoring of late will be crucial to whether the Checkers can continue to make a run at the post-season. Danny Kristo is also proving to be an excellent addition to this Checkers’ team. The recently acquired forward tallied one goal and added two assists on top of that. He has illustrated terrific skill with the puck, being able to stick handle in and out of extremely tight situations in the offensive zone. Kristo also provided solid minutes on the penalty kill, doing a great job of fore-checking and making it difficult for other teams to enter the zone and get set up on offense. He has quickly formed great chemistry with his new linemates which has has led to 7 points in his first 8 games as a Checker. Finding his way back into the three stars of the week, Lucas Wallmark played some excellent hockey before being called up to the NHL. Like Miller, he put up a goal in each of the Checkers’ victories and also added two assists for an average of a point per game. The most impressive thing Wallmark did, was put himself in the right position at the right time to receive a quality scoring chance. Both of his goals were scored by him moving without the puck and getting in terrific position to receive a pass for a high quality scoring chance or tap in a rebound. It will be interesting to see how he performs after his recent call-up to the Hurricanes.
Charlotte Checkers who’s hot
With all the of players that are being called up recently to the Hurricanes, it is creating opportunities for guys like Connor Brickley to step up on the Checkers. The man, who was acquired for Brody Sutter at the beginning of the season also tallied a goal in both of the team’s wins and tallied one assist in one of their losses against Bakersfield. He did an awesome job on the forecheck, forcing multiple turnovers that led to goals for the Checkers. Brickley formed great chemistry with his new linemates, Andrew Poturalski and Danny Kristo and looked extremely comfortable playing with them. Tom McCollum also played like an absolute star in his Checkers’ debut. After being recently acquired from the Stockton Heat, McCollum came in Friday night and stopped 49 of the 50 shots thrown his way. He played with tremendous position in net all night, challenging shots just right and doing a great job with his rebound control. If he is able to continue playing on anywhere close to this level, then the Checkers’ playoffs outlook just got a whole lot more exciting.
Checkers who’s not
What is going on with Andrej Nestrasil right now? The big forward for the Czech Republic failed to put up a single point in the four games the Checkers played, and he didn’t even look visible out on the ice. That there was no point during any game, where he looked to be playing above average or looked like one of the more talented players on the ice, is troubling. I would assume someone who played all last year in the NHL and half of this year up with the Canes, to be a step ahead of AHL regular players. He did look good when he was first sent down the Charlotte, but his play has trailed off in the past couple of weeks. Look for him to pick it up soon, because if he doesn’t, I’m not exactly sure what Andrej Nestrasil’s role on this team will be.
Charlotte Checkers injuries and roster notes
Patrick Dwyer, Mitchell Heard, Bryan Bickell, and Michael Leighton all missed games due to injury. Michael Leighton will be undergoing surgery and will be out for the next 4-6 weeks. Erik Karlsson, Clark Bishop, and Tyler Ganly were all healthy scratches at least one game. The Checkers acquired goaltender Tom McCollum on Wednesday (Mar. 8) from the Stockton Heat. The Hurricanes called up Valentin Zykov on Wednesday (Mar. 8) and Lucas Wallmark on Sunday (Mar. 12).
Forward lines as of now
- First line: Connor Brickley-Andrew Poturalski-Danny Kristo
- Second line: Kris Newbury-Lucas Wallmark-Andrew Miller
- Third line: Erik Karlsson-Andrej Nestrasil-Sergey Tolchinsky
- Fourth line: Clark Bishop-Brendan Woods-Levko Koper
Defensive pairings as of now
- First pairing: Trevor Carrick-Jake Chelios
- Second pairing: Dennis Robertson-Roland McKeown
- Third pairing: Haydn Fleury-Philip Samuelsson