The Checkers had to make adjustments to the lineup in order to cope with all the injuries and call-ups that are starting to plague the team as the season deepens. They would come up short twice against the San Antonio Rampage by a score of 3-1 on Friday (Nov. 18) and 2-1 on Saturday (Nov. 19). The Checkers would then return to Charlotte for a four-game home stand starting with two games versus the Chicago Wolves on Tuesday (Nov. 22) where they would win 4-3, and on Wednesday (Nov. 23), losing this time 4-2. They would finish out by facing off with the Iowa Wild on Saturday (Nov. 26) winning in overtime 3-2 and on-Sunday (Nov. 27) losing a lopsided 5-1 game.
Three stars of the week
During the Checkers’ four-game home stand, Haydn Fleury steadily started to show improvement and aggressiveness while out on the ice. He scored the first goal of his AHL career during Tuesday night’s game by blasting the puck from the point sailing it over the right shoulder of Wolves’ goalie Phoenix Copley. After finding the back of the net for the first time, Fleury played with newfound confidence. He started carrying the puck up farther into the neutral zone on breakouts and on occasion he would even carry the puck up into the offensive zone entirely by himself before dumping the puck into the corner for the offense to chase. Fleury also chipped in a primary assist on the Checkers third goal during Tuesday night’s game with a beautiful cross ice pass in the offensive zone that would help tie the game late in the second period. The second star of the week is Lucas Wallmark who stepped up in the absence of key offensive contributors. He had a dazzling no look pass to Connor Brickley that started the scoring during the game on Tuesday night. Wallmark tallied two more assists over the Checkers’ six games and is looking more and more impressive with his vision and ability to find the open teammate. He created situations where he was able to patiently hold the puck while searching for an open teammate for a solid scoring opportunity. If he can find his goal scoring touch, he will be a deadly player for the Checkers as the season progresses. Phil Di Giuseppe was by far the most impressive player for the Checkers the past six games. Despite failing to find his offensive game with the Hurricanes, he persevered after being sent back down to Charlotte. Di Giuseppe put up two goals and three assists and, most noticeably, was often the most skilled player on the ice when his line was playing. He did a terrific job of creating scoring chances for his teammates, and when he was not able to create anything himself, Di Giuseppe refrained from forcing anything that could have led to a turnover heading back into the defensive zone. With play like this do not expect to see him in Charlotte for much longer.
Despite missing two games due to illness, Valentin Zykov was still able to light the lamp twice for Checkers. It is a beautiful sight to witness when Zykov recognizes that he has the size advantage on the ice and he uses his big frame to fend off opposing players from stealing the puck or pushing him out from in front of the net while he is screening the goalie. If he continues down the path he is on and if the Hurricanes have any more injuries on offense, then look for him to possibly get a call-up later into the season. He should continue to consistently put up points in the AHL if he keeps on using his body to his advantage. Andrew Miller is also starting to hit his stride after missing some games earlier in the season due to injury. He tallied one goal and added two assists to go along with it. While Miller is not a player who will probably ever get a chance up with the Hurricanes, it is good to have a veteran type AHL player who will put up a solid point total and help the younger players along while they develop their skills before being called up to the NHL.
Trevor Carrick is not having the type of season he would like, to be having at this point in the season. He has yet to score a goal and has only four assists in the 17 games that he has played. At the same point last year, Carrick already had 11 points and was one of the scoring leaders on the team. He has not looked as decisive when bringing the puck up on the breakout this year and he is just not having any luck whatsoever taking shots from the point. He currently leads the team in shots with 55 shots and is ahead of the next closet person on the team by 15 shots. Carrick will continue to play big minutes on the first defensive pairing, so look for a break through coming soon in his offensive game as he attempts to end his drought. .
Injuries and roster notes
Brendan Woods, Patrick Dwyer, Valentin Zykov, and Connor Brickley all missed games due to injury. Dennis Robertson, Kyle Hagel, and Cason Hohmann all were healthy scratches for multiple games. Ryan Murphy joined the Checkers on a conditioning stint on Monday (Nov. 21). The Hurricanes called up Phil Di Giuseppe on Monday (Nov. 28). The Checkers signed Cason Hohmann out of Boston University to a Player Tryout on Saturday (Nov. 26). Kris Newburry was signed by the Checkers to a Player Tryout on Tuesday (Nov. 29).
Forward lines as of now
- First line: Valentin Zykov-Andrew Poturalski-Andrew Miller
- Second line: Sergey Tolchinsky-Lucas Wallmark-Patrick Brown
- Third line: Clark Bishop-Erik Karlsson-Kris Newburry
- Fourth line: Levko Koper-Mitchell Heard-Kyle Hagel
Defensive pairings as of now
- First pairing: Trevor Carrick-Ryan Murphy
- Second pairing: Jake Chelios-Roland McKeown
- Third pairing: Haydn Fleury-Keegan Lowe