Week in Review
Last week's record4-0-0
Last 10 games8-1-1
Checkers 3, Lehigh Valley 1The Checkers kicked off their final home stand of the regular season with a Tuesday night matchup against the Atlantic Division leaders. Despite outshooting the Phantoms 22-10, the snake-bit Checkers found themselves trailing 1-0 after 40 minutes of play. The offense finally broke through early in the third, with Andrew Poturalski finishing off a two-on-one rush to tie the game, then the Checkers nabbed the lead in the final five minutes of play thanks to a low-angle snipe from Marcus Kruger. Mike Ferrantino would then tack on an empty netter in the waning moments of the contest to seal Charlotte’s victory. Full recap
Checkers 6, Lehigh Valley 1Charlotte’s offense came ready to play in the following night’s rematch. The Checkers racked up three unanswered tallies in the opening frame to create a substantial lead, then notched another pair in the second to push it to 5-0. The Phantoms would finally break through late in the middle frame, but it would be too little, too late. Andrew Poturalski added one more for good measure in the third and Callum Booth would stand tall with 30 saves to clinch the lopsided win for Charlotte. Full recap
Checkers 7, Hershey 3After failing to get the help they needed to clinch the night before, the Checkers took matters into their own hands against the Bears. The back-and-forth contest saw the two sides trading goals for the first two periods and the Checkers holding a slim 4-3 advantage heading into the second intermission. Charlotte’s offense took over in the third, however, with Janne Kuokkanen notching a pair of goals 12 seconds apart to complete his first career hat trick and blow the game wide open. Greg McKegg would strike on the power play minutes later to solidify Charlotte’s win and punch the Checkers’ ticket to the playoffs. Full recap
Checkers 3, Hershey 1The red-hot Checkers closed out the home portion of their regular season schedule on a high note by sweeping the Bears to close the gap in the Atlantic Division. After a scoreless first, the Checkers exploded in the second, launching 20 shots and finding the back of the net three times to grab the lead. The Bears would break through in the third but it wouldn’t be enough as rookie netminder Callum Booth turned aside 23 of the 24 shots he saw and picked up another win for the Checkers. Full recap
Three Stars Of The Week
Callum Booth2-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .964 SV%
Julien Gauthier2g, 4a
Janne Kuokkanen4g, 2a
PLAYOFF PICTUREBy defeating the Hershey Bears on Saturday, the Checkers clinched a berth in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. This marks the fourth time in Charlotte’s eight-year franchise that the Checkers have qualified for the postseason and the first time in franchise history they have done it in consecutive seasons.
While the Checkers have earned a spot in the playoffs, there is still a lot to be decided in the next week. At 92 points, the Checkers currently sit one point ahead of Providence and two points behind Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, though both of those teams have played one fewer game than Charlotte.
The Atlantic Division seeding will be decided this weekend as all three teams wrap up their regular season schedules: The Checkers visit Providence on Friday and Bridgeport on Sunday, the Bruins host Charlotte on Friday then embark on a home-and-home series with Springfield, while the Penguins are on the road for contests against Springfield, Lehigh Valley and Hershey.
With 44 regulation and overtime wins, the Checkers hold the tiebreaker over both the Bruins and Penguins. Therefore. the Checkers control their own destiny in terms of catching Providence by way of Friday’s head-to-head matchup but would need help to catch Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
A NIGHT TO REMEMBERJanne Kuokkanen stole the show in Friday’s victory over the Hershey Bears. The rookie opened the scoring with a goal just a minute into regulation, then picked up an assist on Julien Gauthier’s tally later in the frame. Not content with a two-point period, Kuokkanen lit the lamp twice 12 seconds apart in the third then capped off his night with another power-play helper minutes later. The 19-year-old Finn finished the game with his first hat trick as a North American pro – the 11th in franchise history and the third by a Checker this season – and five points, tying the franchise record set by Zach Boychuk in 2013-14.
MCKEGG PARTYGreg McKegg has gone on a tear since joining the Checkers at the NHL trade deadline. The forward has racked up 21 points in 17 games in a Charlotte sweater, already surpassing his 28-game point total with the Penguins earlier this season. McKegg has been a picture of consistency with the Checkers, only being held off the scoresheet twice during his tenure with the team. Prior to being held scoreless in Sunday’s win over Hershey, McKegg had established a 12-game point streak that matched the longest in franchise history set by Ryan Murphy in 2013-14.
GOING STREAKINGThe Checkers have been one of the hottest teams in the AHL coming down the stretch. They have won five games in a row and have earned at least a point in eight games in a row, both of which stand as the longest by the team this season and the longest active such streaks in the league. The Checkers also have the best record across the league in the last 10 games at 8-1-1-0.
STINGY DEFENSEThe Checkers have been locking down opponents over this most recent stretch of games. Charlotte has allowed just seven total goals over the last five contests, including four games in which the team allowed just one goal. Additionally, all of those games have come with the tandem of Jeremy Smith and Callum Booth at the helm as de facto number one netminder Alex Nedeljkovic has been sidelined by an injury.
- Valentin Zykov is tied for the league lead in goals (32), leads the league in power-play goals (16) and shooting percentage (29.1) and ranks third in the AHL in power-play points (29)
- Trevor Carrick ranks fourth in the AHL in power-play assists and ranks fourth among blue liners in assists (32), sixth in points (41) and fifth in power-play points (23)
- Philip Samuelsson leads the AHL in plus-minus (+44)
- Roland McKeown is tied for second in the AHL in plus-minus (+35)
- Alex Nedeljkovic is tied for the league lead in wins (31), tied for third in shutouts (5) and ranks second in minutes (2726)
- Warren Foegele is tied for the league lead in game-winning goals (8), ranks second among league rookies in goals (26) and eighth in scoring (44), leads all rookies in shorthanded points (6), is tied for the lead in shorthanded goals (4) and assists (2) and is tied for third in plus-minus (+21)
- Aleksi Saarela ranks third among AHL rookies in goals (25), is tied for 10th in scoring (42) and is tied for the lead in power-play goals (11)
- Andrew Miller missed 21 games starting 2/18
- Jake Chelios missed 19 games starting 2/24
- Lucas Wallmark missed five games on 3/31
- Alex Nedeljkovic missed five games on 3/31
- Clark Bishop missed five games on 3/31
- April 7: (D) Haydn Fleury assigned from Carolina
- April 7: (D) Roland McKeown assigned from Carolina
- April 7: (RW) Valentin Zykov assigned from Carolina
- April 7: (C) Nicolas Roy assigned from Carolina
By the Numbers
|CATEGORY||RECORD||AHL RANK||LAST WEEK|
|Goals per game||3.42||t-1st||3rd|
|Shots per game||29.70||t-17th||20th|
|Goals allowed per game||2.81||10th||t-13th|
|Shots allowed per game||26.86/td>||4th||4th|
|Penalty minutes per game||11.92||9th||8th|
|Points||Valentin Zykov (52), Andrew Miller, Lucas Wallmark (51)|
|Goals||Valentin Zykov (32), Warren Foegele (26), Aleksi Saarela (25)|
|Assists||Andrew Miller (36), Lucas Wallmark (35), Trevor Carrick (32)|
|Power play goals||Valentin Zykov (16), Aleksi Saarela (11), Andrew Poturalski (9)|
|Shorthanded goals||Warren Foegele (4), Nicolas Roy, Clark Bishop (2)|
|Game-winning goals||Warren Foegele (8), Valentin Zykov, Andrew Poturalski (7)|
|Shots on goal||Trevor Carrick (157), Warren Foegele (156), Aleksi Saarela (146)|
|Penalty minutes||Trevor Carrick (83), Josiah Didier (79), Zack Stortini (71)|
|Plus/minus||Philip Samuelsson (+44), Roland McKeown (+35), Warren Foegele (+21)|
|Wins||Alex Nedeljkovic (31)|
|Goals-against average||Alex Nedeljkovic (2.55)|
|Save percentage||Alex Nedeljkovic (.903)|