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Weekly Report: March 10, 2014

Charlotte Checkers Weekly Report
After finishing one road trip with a win in Norfolk, the Checkers put together a solid three-in-three weekend including two key victories to keep their playoff hopes alive down the stretch.

On either side of a 3-0 loss to Texas on Saturday, the Checkers were able to defeat the San Antonio Rampage, who entered the weekend just one point behind them in the standings, twice in their own building. Those wins, a 5-4 shootout victory on Friday and a 4-3 win on Sunday, improved the Checkers’ record to 5-1-0 in their last six games and 7-3-1 in their last 11.

With 17 games left to play, the Checkers are now in 10th place, five points behind eight-seed Milwaukee, which has played one fewer game, and seven points behind seven-seed Rockford, which has played three more games.

Charlotte’s team-record run of 10 consecutive road games comes to an end with a rematch against the Stars this Wednesday. Following that, the team plays its first home games in nearly one full month as it hosts the Lake Erie Monsters at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday and Sunday.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    29-27-3
  • Home record
    14-15-1
  • Road record
    15-12-2
  • Last week's record
    3-1-0
  • Last 10 games
    6-3-1
  • Division Standings
    4th
  • Conference Standings
    10th
  • League Standings
    19th

Checkers 3, Norfolk 2

Down 2-1 with 4:30 remaining in regulation, the Checkers got a power-play goal from Philippe Cornet to tie the game and a winner from Sean Dolan with just 46 seconds left to complete a comeback win in Norfolk. Justin Peters made 24 saves to pick up the victory in the last game of his NHL conditioning stint and Chris Terry became the second player to hit the 20-goal mark for the Checkers, who finished a four-game road trip with their third straight win and clinched the GEICO Challenge Cup season series with Norfolk. Full recap

Checkers 5, San Antonio 4 (SO)

Sean Dolan set career highs with two goals and three points as the Checkers picked up their fourth straight win to begin a three-in-three set in San Antonio on Friday. John Muse made 35 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped four of five in the shootout in his first game back from a Feb. 18 injury, with Justin Shugg and Aaron Palushaj also scoring in regulation as the Checkers came back from a 3-1 hole in the second period and a 4-3 deficit in the third. Palushaj and Brody Sutter scored in the shootout. Full recap

Texas 3, Checkers 0

Jack Campbell (23 saves) became just the second goalie to shut out the Checkers this season, ending their win streak at four games. Mike Murphy made 32 saves against the Stars, who reclaimed the Western Conference lead by improving to 5-2-0 against their West Division rivals this season. Charlotte’s winning streak tied two previous occurrences for its longest of the season. Full recap

Checkers 4, San Antonio 3

Brett Sutter scored twice, Jared Staal netted his first goal of the season and Aaron Palushaj added the winner midway through the third period as the Checkers defeated San Antonio for the second time in three days to move four points clear of the Rampage in the Western Conference standings. John Muse made 34 saves as the Checkers finished a three-in-three weekend with a record of 2-1-0 despite playing a more rested team in the second and third games. Palushaj’s sixth game-winner of the season tied him for first in the AHL as Charlotte improved to 5-1-0 in its last six and 7-3-1 and its last 11. Full recap

Notables

Ryan Murphy

Last Week's News

  • At the time of his recall to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, defenseman Ryan Murphy had 18 points in 16 games with Charlotte, including a franchise-record 11 straight games with at least one assist. Story

Playoff Picture

With 17 games to play, the 10th-place Checkers currently trail eight seed Milwaukee by five points with one fewer game played. They also trail seventh-place Rockford by seven points, with the Checkers having three games in hand.

Of the Checkers' remaining games, six will be be played against the three teams immediately ahead of them (one against Milwaukee, one against Rockford and four against nine seed Oklahoma City, who they currently trail by three points). Seven will be played against teams below them in the Western Conference standings (three against 12-seed San Antonio, two against 13-seed Lake Erie and two against 14-seed Iowa).

Sutter Fires Away

En route to recording his first multi-goal game of the season on March 9, Brett Sutter had nine shots on goal, marking the most of his 450 career AHL games. Sutter also nine shots in a playoff game with Abbotsford on April 21, 2010.

Now in his third season as the Checkers' captain, Sutter, who hit another milestone with his 500th professional game on March 2, has 18 points (8g, 10a) in his last 20 games dating back to Jan. 23.

Dolan Steps Up

Checkers center Sean Dolan set career highs with two goals, three points, five shots on goal and a plus-3 rating against the San Antonio Rampage on March 7. He followed that up with the primary assist on Aaron Palushaj's game-winning goal on March 9, giving him seven points in his last five games (3g, 4a).

Dolan, a 26-year-old who has signed three consecutive AHL contracts with Charlotte since intially joining the team on a pro tryout in January of 2012, has topped his career high for points in a single season with 13 (4g, 9a) in 33 games. He has nine points in 13 games, including two game-winning goals, since missing 21 games due to injury.

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 leads the Checkers and is tied for ninth in the AHL with 53 points, while Chris Terry and Aaron Palushaj are tied for 11th in the league with 52 points each.

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, all three players would break Boychuk's team record of 65 points set in 2010-11, with Boychuk on pace for 70, Terry on pace for 68 and Palushaj on pace for 66.

Shootout Stars

The Checkers scored twice on four shootout attemps in San Antonio on March 7, giving them a .450 shooting percentage (9-for-20) that ranks second in the AHL. Chris Terry and Aaron Palushaj lead the Checkers with three goals each on four attempts, while Brody Sutter ranks third with goals on both of his attempts both this season and in his AHL career. The only other Checker to score on a shootout attempt this season is Matthew Pistilli, who scored on his one attempt before the Checkers released him from his PTO.

The Checkers are 2-2 in shootouts this season, with their four attempts ranking as the fewest in the AHL.

Hats off to Boychuk

Boychuk Career Goals / Game

2009-10 .29
2010-11 .37
2011-12 .33
2012-13 .47
2013-14 .52
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 35 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 95 and 93, respectively.

Power Players

Checkers Power Play by Season

2010-11 21.0% (3rd)
2011-12 19.8% (4th)
2012-13 20.2% (5th)
2013-14 22.0% (2nd)
In Zach Boychuk (t-1st with 14) and Chris Terry (t-9th with 10), the Checkers have two of the AHL's top 11 in terms of power-play goals this season. Boychuk has already broken the single-season franchise record of 12 previously set by Jacob Micflikier in the 2010-11 campaign. Meanwhile, Mark Flood's seven power-play goals are tied for second among AHL defensemen and for the most by a Checkers blueliner in a single season (Bobby Sanguinetti in 2011-12).

The Checkers currently rank second in the AHL with a 22.0 percent success rate on the power play.

On the Road Again

The Checkers' current 10-game road swing (5-3-1) 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 is 15-12-2 on the road this season.

Three-in-Threes

The Checkers completed a set of playing three games in three nights on March 9, their fourth such set of the season. They went 2-1-0 to improve to 7-4-1 in games that are part of a three-in-three this season, including a 3-1-0 record in game one, a 1-2-1 record in game two and a 3-1-0 record in game three.

All-time, the Checkers are 16-8-3 in game one, 16-6-5 in game two and 14-12-1 in game three over the course of their four AHL seasons. They have one three-in-three set remaining this season, a road swing through San Antonio and Oklahoma City on April 4-6.

Quick Hits

  • Aaron Palushaj's 20th goal of the season on March 9 was also his sixth-game winner, putting him into a four-way tie for the AHL lead.
  • Jared Staal's goal on March 9 ended a 41-game drought dating back to March 29 of last season.
  • Despite getting shut out by Texas on March 8, the Checkers are still averaging 3.67 goals over their last six games.
  • After killing each of their 13 previous penalties, the Checkers killed just five of 10 over their last three games.
  • The Checkers have won four in a row on three separate occasions this season, including a streak that ended March 8. They have not won five in a row since January of last season.
  • The Checkers have earned points in eight of their last 11 games (7-3-1).
  • Mark Flood ranks second among AHL defensemen with 12 goals. That sets a career high and is the most by a Charlotte defenseman in a single season.
  • Matt Corrente is tied for fourth 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' eight overtime games (5-3) and four shootouts (2-2) are the fewest in the league.
  • The Checkers are 13-9-2 against West Division opponents this season.
  • Charlotte's two shorthanded goals are tied with Adirondack for the fewest in the league.

Player Streaks

  • none

Milestones

  • Aaron Palushaj is one shy of 250 AHL games
  • Zach Boychuk is one shy of 150 professional assists
  • Justin Shugg is three shy of 100 professional points
  • Brett Sutter played his 450th AHL game on March 9
  • Michal Jordan played his 250th AHL game on March 9
  • Aaron Palushaj recorded his 200th professional point on March 7

Injuries

  • Greg Nemisz - missed two games starting March 8
  • Brendan Woods - missed eight games starting Feb. 22

This Week's Games

Wednesday, March 12 at 8:30 p.m. - Checkers at Texas

Saturday, March 15 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Lake Erie

Old Time Hockey Weekend presented by Husqvarna
  • Old Time Hockey Weekend presented by Husqvarna featuring the Hanson Brothers
  • Boy Scout Night
  • Jr. CheckMates

Sunday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m. - Checkers vs. Lake Erie

Old Time Hockey Weekend presented by HusqvarnaCoke Zero
  • Old Time Hockey Weekend presented by Husqvarna featuring the Hanson Brothers
  • Postgame skate with the Checkers presented by U.S. National Whitewater Center
  • NC Zoo Asheboro Family Day - coupon giveaway
  • Coke Family Four Packs - four tickets, four hot dogs and four Cokes for $65. Fees apply.

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 22.0% 2nd 22.3% (2nd)
Penalty kill 79.4% 26th 80.4% (22nd)
Goals per game 3.02 11th 3.02 (t-11th)
Shots per game 32.4 6th 32.5 (5th)
Goals allowed per game 3.22 27th 3.24 (28th)
Shots allowed per game 32.4 26th 32.3 (26th)
Penalty minutes per game 14.0 8th 14.5 (9th)
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADERS
Points Zach Boychuk (53), Aaron Palushaj, Chris Terry (52), Brett Sutter (32)
Goals Zach Boychuk (27), Aaron Palushaj, Chris Terry (20), Justin Shugg (14)
Assists Aaron Palushaj, Chris Terry (32), Zach Boychuk (26), Brett Sutter (22)
Power play goals Zach Boychuk (14), Chris Terry (10), Mark Flood (7)
Shorthanded goals Nicolas Blanchard, Brett Sutter (1)
Game-winning goals Aaron Palushaj (6), four tied at (3)
Shots on goal Chris Terry (169), Aaron Palushaj (160), Zach Boychuk (147)
Penalty minutes Matt Corrente (104), Nicolas Blanchard (81), Rasmus Rissanen (69)
Plus/minus Greg Nemisz (+9), Brody Sutter (+6), Matt Corrente (+4)
Wins John Muse (19), Mike Murphy (4)
Goals-against average John Muse (2.80), Mike Murphy (3.89)
Save percentage John Muse (.912), Mike Murphy (.883)

Checkers in the NHL

Carolina Hurricanes (27-28-9: 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 41 5 9 14 2 -13 1g, 1a at SJ on March 4
Manny Malhotra C 52 6 6 12 14 -1 t-2nd NHL with 59.2 faceoff percentage
Ryan Murphy D 41 2 9 11 8 -3 Career-high 26:51 TOI at NJ on March 8
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 Has not dressed since 1/31

Checkers in the ECHL

Florida Everblades (28-22-7: 9th Eastern Conference)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Kyle Bonis F 50 19 14 33 13 +9 Leads team in goals
Austin Levi D 43 2 11 13 40 +2 Recalled to Charlotte on March 6
Stefan Della Rovere F 8 3 2 5 33 +4  
Sean Dolan C 3 2 2 4 2 0 Recalled to Charlotte on Feb. 6
Beau Schmitz D 12 1 4 5 4 +1 Injured Feb. 28, out 4-6 weeks
Kellan Tochkin F 43 7 23 30 44 +2 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.