The Checkers had an up and down week that started with a 5-4 win against the Iowa Wild on Thursday (Nov. 10) and a 4-1 victory on Friday (Nov. 11). The team then hit a couple of speed bumps, losing 3-0 against the Rockford Icehogs on Saturday (Nov. 12) and 3-2 in overtime against the Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday (Nov. 15).
Three Stars of the week
Keegan Lowe continues to improve with every single game that he steps out onto the ice. He contributed a goal in the Checkers’ high scoring game on Thursday, and he also chipped in an assist in Tuesday night’s game in Milwaukee. The most impressive part of Lowe’s game though might be how strong he has become on the puck. He is noticeably better at keeping the puck on his stick when bringing it into the offensive zone than compared to last season. Andrew Poturalski is showing no signs of slowing down. He tallied an assist in each game the Checkers scored, and he added a goal during the team’s Tuesday night game against the Admirals. Now that Derek Ryan is up with the Hurricanes, Poturalski is the active team leader in points with 12 in 12 games. He is also currently tied for 18th among AHL points leaders and tied for 3rd amongst all rookies in scoring. Poturalski excelled this past week by always moving his feet to find the open areas of the ice to receive passes from his teammates, both on the breakout and in the offensive zone. He only played in one game but boy did Matt Tennyson make that one game count. While donning the “C” as the replacement captain, Tennyson scored not only the first hat-trick of his AHL career, but it was his first time ever scoring multiple goals in one game. He did a tremendous job throughout the game recognizing when to pinch up, when to dump the puck into the offensive zone and when to take a quality shot from the point. Tennyson also leads the Checkers in points scored by a defenseman with 7 in 9 games.
Patrick Brown stepped it up on the offensive end of the ice during the team’s game on Thursday, as he scored the game winning goal with five minutes left in the game. The most impressive part of his game is how he has played on the penalty kill. Brown has been the number one forward option for coach Ulf Samuelsson on the penalty kill unit, and he is a true pest when on the ice, always dogging the defensemen and making it difficult for the opposition to enter the zone on the power play. The result was been multiple scoring chances on odd man rushes because he has been able to tip the puck away and steal it from the defense. Valentin Zykov continues to be a consistent force on the offensive end for the Checkers. He scored the team’s first goal during Thursday’s game and he roofed a shot in the top right corner of the net on Tuesday night as well. Zykov’s ability to use his big body to his advantage appears to be wearing on the opposition when he heads into the grimy areas of the offensive zone. Opposing defenders almost seem to back off some and just let him move the puck out to his point men rather than battling him in the corners. His size combined with his offensive skill can be a hard package for opposing teams to stop. He looks like he gains more confidence in himself each time he takes the ice.
Although he is not necessarily known for his offensive skill set, Connor Brickley has not put up a point since the second game of the season. In 12 games played, he has two assists and has yet to tally a goal on the season. Nevertheless, he has given the Checkers valuable minutes on the penalty kill and like Patrick Brown he acts as a nuisance to defending players trying entering the offensive zone. Despite his efforts on the ice, Brickley has not contributed on the offensive end as much as he probably would have liked to at this point in this season. Look for him to put up a few points in the Checkers upcoming games.
Injuries and roster notes
The Hurricanes called up forwards Derek Ryan and Brock McGinn on Friday (Nov. 11) and defenseman Matt Tennyson on Saturday (Nov. 12). Forward Phil Di Giuseppe was sent down to Charlotte on Friday (Nov. 11). Brendan Woods missed all games played during the past week due to injury and Trevor Carrick missed Tuesday nights game due to injury. Mitchel Heard, Clark Bishop, Josh Wesley, and Dennis Robertson were all scratched at least one game.
Charlotte Checkers lineup
Forward lines as of now
- First line: Valentin Zykov-Andrew Poturalski-Phil Di Giuseppe
- Second line: Sergey Tolchinsky-Lucas Wallmark-Andrew Miller
- Third line: Connor Brickley-Patrick Dwyer-Patrick Brown
- Fourth line: Clark Bishop-Erik Karlsson-Kyle Hagel
Defensive pairings as of now
- First pairing: Jake Chelios-Roland McKeown
- Second pairing: Haydn Fleury-Keegan Lowe
- Third pairing: Dennis Robertson-Josh Wesley