The Charlotte Checkers had a rough start to the week, losing to the Bakersfield Condors 3-2 in overtime on Friday (Dec. 9) and they would come up short against the Ontario Reign on Saturday (Dec. 10) 5-2. They would pick up their play in Charlotte and beat the Manitoba Moose 4-2 on Tuesday (Dec. 13) and 3-2 on Wednesday (Dec. 14).
Three stars of the week
Lucas Wallmark is setting himself apart as one of the most consistent players on the team. He did a terrific job of always moving in the offensive zone without the puck. It resulted in him positioned to receive multiple passes for quality scoring chances around the net. Wallmark had two goals and added an assist to give him 13 points in 26 games for the season. That ties him with Valentin Zykov for third place on the team in total points. The team leader in points, Andrew Poturalski, had the best statistical week out of any Checker that suited up to play. He had one goal and three assists to push his point total for the season to 18, which is tied for sixth amongst all AHL rookies in scoring. Despite cooling off after his hot start to begin the season, Poturalski is looking more confident again while handling the puck, creating the scoring chances or finding an open teammate for the pass. In only two games played Phil Di Giuseppe set himself apart as the most impressive looking Checker this past week. He scored the team’s first goal during Wednesday night’s game and he would also score the game winner 17 seconds into overtime on a beautiful shot that would find the top right corner of the net. Di Giuseppe excels when playing with the Checkers, constantly staying aggressive and forechecking hard against the other team while they bring the puck up into the offensive zone. In just ten games down with Charlotte this season, Di Giuseppe has accumulated nine points and is sixth on the team in overall scoring.
Haydn Fleury’s confidence continues to rise as the season moves forward. In his first game back after missing seven games due to injury, he netted two goals including the game winner early in the third period during the team’s game on Tuesday night. Fleury continues to assert himself into the offense and he is looking for his own shot far more than he was earlier in the year. Ever since he scored his first goal of the season, he has looked better and better each time he has stepped out on to the ice and that’s an encouraging sign for the Hurricanes’ organization and its fans. Another standout is Levko Koper who continues to make the most out of the opportunity that he has been given. He had his first multi-goal game of the year as he scored the Checkers only two goals during Saturday night’s game against the Ontario Reign. Koper is going to find himself a permanent spot on this Checkers’ squad if he continues to forecheck hard and create offense.
During the only game that Alex Nedeljkovic started for the Checkers, he was pulled after he allowed four goals in two periods to the Ontario Reign. Nedeljkovic is struggling with the transition to the professional level and does not exhibit the confidence he displayed in his previous junior league competition. A major flaw is his inability to corral long shots from the point resulting in his letting out big rebounds to the opposition that can easily be hit back in for a goal. Nedeljkovic needs to fix this problem before it gets out of hand and becomes one of the bigger issues of his game.
Injuries and roster notes
Brendan Woods, Trevor Carrick, Kris Newburry, Roland McKeown, Connor Brickley, and Haydn Fleury all missed games due to injury. Josh Wesley, Clark Bishop, Kevin Raine, Levko Koper, Kyle Hagel, and Mitchell Heard were all healthy extras at least one game. The Hurricanes sent down Phil Di Giuseppe on Monday (Dec. 12). The Hurricanes recalled Michael Leighton on Thursday (Dec. 15).
Forward lines as of now
- First line: Phil Di Giuseppe-Andrew Poturalski-Andrew Miller
- Second line: Sergey Tolchinsky-Lucas Wallmark-Valentin Zykov
- Third line: Connor Brickley Patrick Dwyer-Patrick Brown
- Fourth line: Erik Karlsson-Mitchell Heard-Kyle Hagel
Defensive pairings as of now
- First pairing: Klas Dahlbeck-Dennis Robertson
- Second pairing: Jake Chelios-Keegan Lowe
- Third period: Haydn Fleury-Josh Wesley