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Weekly Report: March 3, 2014

Charlotte Checkers Weekly Report
After losing the first of a four-game trip in Norfolk, the Checkers got back on track by winning two games in Hershey over the weekend.

The wins improved the Checkers to 2-2-1 halfway through their run of 10 consecutive road games that marks the longest in franchise history. The second leg of the trip concludes with a rematch in Norfolk this Tuesday, where the Checkers will have another chance to clinch the GEICO Challenge Cup. They then return home for a single day before departing for a four-game trip in Texas that starts with a three-in-three set this weekend.

The Checkers, who will not play another home game until March 15, are now ranked 11th in the Western Conference – their highest position since Feb. 5. However, they still trail eighth-place Milwaukee by seven points with 21 games left to play.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    26-26-3
  • Home record
    14-15-1
  • Road record
    12-11-2
  • Last week's record
    2-1-0
  • Last 10 games
    4-4-2
  • Division Standings
    5th
  • Conference Standings
    11th
  • League Standings
    21st

Norfolk 3, Checkers 2

Philippe Cornet scored less than two minutes into the game and Brett Sutter added a power-play tally with less than four minutes to go, but it wasn't enough as the Checkers dropped a 3-2 game in Norfolk to start their four-game road trip on Wednesday. Justin Peters made 21 saves as Charlotte fell to 0-2-1 to start its 10-game road swing and missed a chance to clinch the season series with Norfolk and the GEICO Challenge Cup. Though the Checkers went 1-for-7 on the power play, defenseman Ryan Murphy had two assists to extend his streak to eight games, improving his own franchise record. Full recap

Checkers 4, Hershey 1

The Checkers earned the first victory of their 10-game road swing in their first visit to Hershey this season with a 4-1 win on Saturday. After Hershey got an early second-period goal to cancel out Zach Boychuk's strike early in the first period, Brody Sutter, Brett Sutter and Victor Rask broke through to help Justin Peters (29 saves) earn his first victory at any level since Dec. 14. Ryan Murphy had an assist to extend his streak to nine games - the longest assist streak posted by any AHL player this season. Full recap

Checkers 6, Hershey 3

Zach Boychuk's third-period hat trick helped the Checkers sweep the Hershey Bears in their own building with a 6-3 victory on Sunday. In addition to Boychuk's third hat trick since Jan. 24, the Checkers also got goals from Ryan Murphy, his first in the AHL, Chris Terry and Mark Flood. With an assist earlier in the game, Murphy set has the longest assist streak (10 games) posted by an AHL defenseman since the 2008-09 season. Justin Peters earned the second win of his NHL conditioning stint with 37 saves as Hershey out-shot the Checkers 40-26. Full recap

Notables

Hanson Brothers return for Old-Time Hockey Weekend

Last Week's News

  • The Hanson Brothers are returning for Old-Time Hockey Weekend starting March 15. New this year - skate with them prior to the game! More info

Murphy's Streak

Since joining the Checkers from the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 24, Ryan Murphy has 17 points (1g, 16a), including his first career AHL goal on March 2, in 15 games. He leads all Charlotte defensemen in assists and has already set a new club record for most by a rookie blueliner in a single campaign (Michal Jordan had 14 in 2010-11).

Murphy has assists in each of his last 10 games (12a), setting a new franchise record for longest assist streak that previously stood at six (Zach Boychuk in 2010) and marking the longest posted by any AHL player since Hershey's Keith Aucoin (14) and Chris Bourque (10) each accomplished the feat during the 2011-12 season. The last time an AHL defenseman recorded assists in 10 or more consecutive games was in 2008-09, when Binghamton rookie Mattias Karlsson put together a 12-game run.

Murphy's 10-game point streak (1g, 12a) is the second-longest active streak in the AHL and is the longest posted by an AHL defenseman all season. It is also the longest posted by a Checkers player this season and is one away from tying Bobby Sanguinetti's franchise record of 11 (Jan. 12-Feb. 12, 2012).

Murphy, the Hurricanes' first-round pick (12th overall) in 2011, now has 21 points in 23 career AHL games dating back to last season, including five Calder Cup Playoff games. Twelve of those points came on the power play.

Hats off to Boychuk

Boychuk Career Goals / Game

2009-10 .29
2010-11 .37
2011-12 .33
2012-13 .47
2013-14 .56
With three third-period goals on March 2, Zach Boychuk recorded his third hat trick of the season and fourth of his career. Three of those hat tricks have come since Jan. 24, while his previous hat trick came almost exactly three years earlier on Jan. 23, 2011. He is responsible for four of six hat tricks in the Checkers' AHL history (Jacob Mikflikier, Brett Sutter).

Boychuk, who set a new career high with his 24th goal of the season on March 1, now ranks fourth in the AHL with 27. He is tied for the league lead with a franchise-record 14 power-play goals.

Now in his fifth professional season, Boychuk is on pace for 38 goals, which would break Chris Terry's team record of 34 set in the 2010-11 season. Terry and Boychuk rank first and second on the Checkers' all-time goals list with 94 and 93, respectively.

Peters Returns

In the four games Justin Peters has played since rejoining the team on a conditioning loan from Carolina, the Checkers' 2.25 goals-against average (excluding a goal allowed for a shootout loss on Feb. 22) is the lowest of any four-game segment since Jan. 23-Feb. 1 (1.75). Prior to Peters' starts, the Checkers had allowed three or more goals in nine consecutive games dating back to Feb. 1.

Including his opening-night start for the Checkers that preceded his recall to Carolina, Peters, a two-time AHL All-Star, has a 3-1-1 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and .933 save percentage this season. He set club records (minimum 20 games) with a 2.29 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and six shutouts last season.

Floodgates Open

Now in his eighth professional season, Mark Flood scored his 13th goal of the campaign against Hershey on March 2, extending his own record for most by a Checkers defenseman in a single season that previously stood at 10 (Bobby Sanguinetti in 2011-12). He has also beaten his career high of 11 set with Manitoba in 2010-11.

Flood, who scored just one goal in 52 games in the Russian KHL last season, ranks second in terms of goals and power-play goals (8) by AHL defensemen.

Sutter Connection

In 58 Checkers games together, cousins Brett and Brody Sutter had never scored in the same game until each found the back of the net one time against Oklahoma City on Feb. 7 - something they also accomplished eight games later with one goal apiece at Hershey on March 1. They had also never recorded points on the same goal until recently, when Brett assisted on Brody's game-tying goal with 38 seconds remaining in regulation on Feb. 9.

The Big Three

Along with Texas (four), the Checkers are one of two teams to feature three or more players among the AHL's top 20 scorers. Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry are tied for the Checkers' lead and for 11th in the AHL with 49 points apiece, while Aaron Palushaj ranks 16th with 47 points.

All three players have held sole possesion of the Checkers' scoring lead at one point this season and are on pace for their best scoring seasons at the AHL level. At their current pace, Boychuk and Terry would break Boychuk's team record of 65 points set in the 2010-11 season with 70 points each. Palushaj would fall just short at 64.

On the Road Again

The Checkers' current 10-game road swing (2-2-1) is the longest in the team's four AHL seasons, narrowly eclipsing a pair of nine-game segments from Oct. 28-Nov. 13, 2011 (5-4-0), and from Oct. 13-31, 2012 (6-2-1). Charlotte, whose 25 road games to date are tied for the fewest of any AHL team, is 12-11-2 on the road this season.

Quick Hits

  • The Checkers have earned points in five of their last seven games (4-2-1).
  • The Checkers have killed 12 consecutive penalties over their last three games. Meanwhile, they scored three power-play goals in the same game for the fifth time this season on March 2 (3-for-6).
  • Prior to picking up a pair of three-goal wins in Hershey on March 1 and 2, the Checkers had not won by three or more goals since defeating Oklahoma City 9-3 on Jan. 24.
  • After missing eight games due to injury, Greg Nemisz picked up an assist on March 2 to give him 11 points (3g, 8a) in 12 games as a Checker.
  • With a goal and an assist on March 1, rookie center Victor Rask recorded his first multi-point game since Nov. 24.
  • Matt Corrente is tied for third among AHL defensemen with 10 major penalties. On Feb. 26, he became the first Checkers defenseman to top 100 penalty minutes in a season since Zack FitzGerald (229) in 2010-11.
  • The Checkers' seven overtime games (4-3) and three shootouts (1-2) are the fewest in the league.
  • The Checkers are 6-4-0 against Eastern Conference teams this season.
  • Charlotte's two shorthanded goals are tied with Adirondack for the fewest in the league

Player Streaks

  • Ryan Murphy has assists and points in each of his last 10 games (Feb. 7-March 2: 1g, 12a)
  • Brett Sutter has points in each of his last three games (Feb. 26-March 2: 2g, 1a)
  • Chris Terry has assists and points in each of his last three games (Feb. 26-March 2: 1g, 3a)
  • Zach Boychuk has goals and points in each of his last two games (March 1-2: 4g, 0a)
  • Victor Rask has assists and points in each of his last two games (March 1-2: 1g, 2a)
  • Michal Jordan has assists and points in each of his last two games (March 1-2: 0g, 2a)

Milestones

  • Nicolas Blanchard is one shy of 450 AHL games
  • Matt Corrente is one shy of 250 professional games
  • Justin Shugg is four shy of 100 professional points
  • Brett Sutter played his 500th professional game on March 2
  • Michal Jordan played his 250th professional game on March 1
  • Matt Marquardt played his 250th AHL game on Feb. 26

Injuries

  • John Muse - missed five games starting Feb. 21
  • Brendan Woods - missed four games starting Feb. 22
  • Justin Shugg - missed one game starting March 2

This Week's Games

Tuesday, March 4 at 7:15 p.m. - Checkers at Norfolk

Friday, March 7 at 8:30 p.m. - Checkers at San Antonio

Saturday, March 8 at 8 p.m. - Checkers at Texas

Sunday, March 9 at 5 p.m. - Checkers at San Antonio

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 22.3% 2nd 22.1% (4th)
Penalty kill 80.4% 22nd 79.4% (23rd)
Goals per game 3.02 t-11th 2.96 (13th)
Shots per game 32.5 5th 32.8 (4th)
Goals allowed per game 3.24 28th 3.29 (28th)
Shots allowed per game 32.3 26th 32.3 (26th)
Penalty minutes per game 14.5 9th 14.6 (9th)
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry (49), Aaron Palushaj (47), Brett Sutter (29)
Goals Zach Boychuk (27), Chris Terry (19), Aaron Palushaj (18)
Assists Chris Terry (30), Aaron Palushaj (29), Zach Boychuk (22)
Power play goals Zach Boychuk (14), Chris Terry (10), Mark Flood (8)
Shorthanded goals Nicolas Blanchard, Brett Sutter (1)
Game-winning goals Aaron Palushaj (5), Zach Boychuk, Brody Sutter, Chris Terry (3)
Shots on goal Chris Terry (157), Aaron Palushaj (149), Zach Boychuk (143)
Penalty minutes Matt Corrente (104), Nicolas Blanchard (81), Rasmus Rissanen (65)
Plus/minus Greg Nemisz (+9), Brody Sutter (+7), Matt Corrente (+4)
Wins John Muse (17), Mike Murphy (4)
Goals-against average John Muse (2.76), Mike Murphy (3.97)
Save percentage John Muse (.912), Mike Murphy (.880)

Checkers in the NHL

Carolina Hurricanes (26-26-9: 7th Metropolitan Division)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Zach Boychuk LW 9 1 3 4 0 2 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 11
Elias Lindholm C 38 4 8 12 2 -11  
Manny Malhotra C 49 6 5 11 14 0 3rd NHL with 59.2 faceoff percentage
Aaron Palushaj RW 2 0 0 0 0 -1 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 29
Brett Sutter C 17 1 1 2 9 -4 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 11
Chris Terry LW 7 0 0 0 0 -3 Reassigned to Charlotte on Nov. 22
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Justin Peters 21 7-9-4 2.50 .919 1 Conditioning loan to Charlotte on Feb. 19

Checkers in the ECHL

Florida Everblades (28-20-6: 8th Eastern Conference)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Kyle Bonis F 48 19 14 33 13 +9 11pts (5g, 6a) in last 10 games
Austin Levi D 42 2 11 13 40 +1  
Stefan Della Rovere F 5 3 1 4 22 +4 3-game goal streak
Sean Dolan C 3 2 2 4 2 0 Recalled to Charlotte on Feb. 6
Beau Schmitz D 12 1 4 5 4 +1  
Kellan Tochkin F 39 6 22 28 38 +3 Assigned to Evansville on Feb. 8
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Jesse Deckert 9 6-1-2 2.71 .891 0 Injured - out for season
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.