With a restocked roster, the Checkers returned to Bojangles’ Coliseum and continued to claw their way back into the playoff race with a pair of crucial wins over the weekend.

The Checkers won’t have much time to dwell on those wins, however, as the home stand continues with a busy four-game week ahead.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    24-23-4
  • Home record
    17-6-1
  • Road record
    8-18-3
  • Last week's record
    2-0-0
  • Last 10 games
    6-3-1
  • Division Standings
    5th
  • Conference Standings
    10th
  • League Standings
    19th

Checkers 5, Cleveland 4 (OT)

Returning back home to start a six-game home stand, the Checkers kept their winning ways going with a tight overtime victory against the defending Calder Cup champs. After the Monsters jumped ahead to a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play, the two squads traded goals until the visitors carried a two-goal advantage in the latter parts of the third. The Checkers would rally, however, with Levko Koper battling down low and putting in a puck from below the goal line followed less than a minute later by a tally from Brendan Woods in his first game back from injury to send the contest to overtime. The Checkers wasted no time in the extra period, with newcomer Danny Kristo feeding Andrew Poturalski on a two-on-one for his second goal of the game, lifting Charlotte to a 5-4 win. Full recap

Checkers 6, Cleveland 1

The Checkers kept their momentum going in the next night’s rematch, but the Monsters had no answer. Jake Chelios and Dennis Robertson each pitched in a goal from the blue line in the first, then the Checkers poured it on with a trio of tallies within the first three minutes of the middle frame. The Monsters would break up Daniel Altshuller’s shutout bid with a late tally in the period, but that would be all they could muster. A Lucas Wallmark blast in the third would be the final nail and secure a lopsided 6-1 victory for Charlotte. Full recap

Three Stars Of The Week

Koper

3rd Star

Levko Koper

1g, 2a
Poturalski

2nd Star

Andrew Poturalski

2g, 1a
Miller

1st Star

Andrew Miller

0g, 5a

Notables

HOME-ICE ADVANTAGE

With another pair of wins at Bojangles’ Coliseum over the weekend, Charlotte’s home record sits at 17-6-1. That .729 winning percentage on home ice, where they have won seven of their last eight games, is the sixth-best such mark in the league.

The team’s best-ever points percentage at home for an entire season is .613, set in the 2010-11 season. The good news for the Checkers is that 14 of their final 23 games this season will be played at home.

GAINING GROUND

With a 6-3-1 mark over their last 10 games, the Checkers are back within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the Central Division. By taking three of a possible four points from them over the weekend, the Checkers now trail Cleveland by just one point, but with one game in hand they have identical point percentages. Currently in the final playoff spot is Iowa, who sit six points ahead of the Checkers but have played three more games. This week will see that change, as the Checkers will play four games between now and Sunday compared to the Wild’s one.

OFFENSE CATCHES FIRE

Despite still ranking in the bottom third of the league’s rankings, the Checkers appear to have turned a corner on the offensive front. With their six-goal outburst on Saturday, the Checkers have now eclipsed the four-goal mark in each of their last three games. So far this season Charlotte has reached that mark 14 times, but have only done it in consecutive games one other time, on Nov.10 and 11. Over that three-game stretch, the Checkers have totaled 15 goals.

IT'S MILLER TIME

After suffering an injury that sidelined him for more than a month earlier this season, Andrew Miller appears to have found his scoring groove in a big way as of late.

In the three games since Feb. 19, Miller has racked up a whopping eight points (1g, 7a), more than any other player in the AHL over that time span. Half of those points came in Saturday’s game, when Miller notched a career-high four helpers in the Checkers’ blowout victory.

GOING STREAKING

With the feed on Dennis Robertson’s first period goal Saturday night, Andrew Poturalski is now currently in the midst of an eight-game point streak, breaking Brock McGinn’s (technically still active) mark for the longest by a Checker this season.

The longest point streak in franchise history is 12 games, set by Ryan Murphy in the 2013-14 season. Should Poturalski pick up a point Tuesday against Milwaukee, he would become just the third player in franchise history to record a nine-game point streak, alongside Murphy and Bobby Sanguinetti, who rang up an 11-game point streak in 2011-12.

FRESHMAN PHENOMS

Along with leading the team in goals and points, rookie forwards Andrew Poturalski and Lucas Wallmark are zeroing in on the Checkers’ record book.

Poturalski’s team-leading 38 points are already the third-most in franchise history by a rookie. With 23 games remaining on the slate, the forward needs one more to match Victor Rask’s 2013-14 effort and 19 more to catch Zac Dalpe’s team record.

Wallmark, on the other hand, needs just four goals over the last 23 games to tie the franchise rookie record, also set by Dalpe.

BICKELL RETURNS TO THE ICE

When he took the ice Saturday for the Checkers, it marked the first game action for Bryan Bickell since Oct. 30, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The veteran forward, who had been skating with Carolina for several weeks before being assigned to Charlotte earlier this week, lined up as the fourth line left winger and picked up an assist on Kris Newbury’s third period goal.

KRISTO FITTING IN

After being acquired by Carolina in a trade with Pittsburgh earlier this week, Danny Kristo stepped straight into the lineup and contributed for the Checkers this weekend.

The fourth-year pro picked up a pair of assists in his debut Friday, including feeding Andrew Poturalski with a slick cross-ice feed for the overtime winner.

“He did good,” said head coach Ulf Samuelsson on Kristo’s first weekend. “He’s still trying to figure out a few small things with our tactical game plan, but he’s a skilled player and he’ll adapt quickly.”

Ranks

  • Michael Leighton ranks 4th in the AHL in goals-against average (2.17) and tied for 5th in shutouts (3)
  • Andrew Poturalski ranks fourth among league rookies in scoring (38) and is tied for fifth in assists (24)
  • Lucas Wallmark is tied for third among league rookies in goals (19), tied for 14th overall, and tied for 12th among rookies in points

INJURIES

  • Kyle Hagel missed nine games starting Feb. 3
  • Patrick Dwyer missed five games starting Feb. 17
  • Michael Leighton missed four games starting Feb. 18

Transactions

Incoming

  • Feb. 24: (LW) Bryan Bickell assigned to Charlotte (AHL)
  • Feb. 23: (RW) Danny Kristo traded from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) to Charlotte (AHL)

Outgoing

  • None

Coming Up

Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7 pm - Checkers vs. Milwaukee

Presented by Parks Heating and Cooling
  • Black jersey night presented by Parks Heating and Cooling

March

Wednesday, March 1 at 7 pm - Checkers vs. Milwaukee

Presented by Bud LightPresented by Farm BureauPresented by Parks Heating and CoolingPresented by Piedmont Natural Gas
  • Winning Wednesday presented by Farm Bureau Insurance - enjoy $1 Bud Light draughts and get a free ticket to our next Wednesday game on March 22 if we win!
  • Black jersey night presented by Parks Heating and Cooling
  • Teacher Appreciation Night presented by Piedmont Natural Gas - educators can get discounted $12 tickets. Contact Alice Garmon at agarmon@gocheckers.com to make sure your school is included in this program


By the Numbers

CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 11.2% 30th 30th
Penalty kill 81.3% 19th 20th
Goals per game 2.62 21st 24th
Shots per game 30.83 10th 10th
Goals allowed per game 2.74 8th t-10th
Shots allowed per game 28.75 7th t-7th
Penalty minutes per game 11.21 4th 5th


CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Andrew Poturalski (38), Lucas Wallmark (34), Valentin Zykov (29)
Goals Lucas Wallmark (19), Valentin Zykov (14), Andrew Poturalski (13)
Assists Andrew Poturalski (25), Jake Chelios (19), Andrew Miller (17)
Power play goals Valentin Zykov (4), Andrew Poturalski, Phil Di Giuseppe (3)
Shorthanded goals Five tied (1)
Game-winning goals Eight tied (2)
Shots on goal Phil Di Giuseppe (118), Lucas Wallmark (111), Andrew Poturalski (107)
Penalty minutes Mitchell Heard (53), Connor Brickley (51), Kyle Hagel (48)
Plus/minus Haydn Fleury (+10), Matt Tennyson, Dennis Robertson (+7)
Wins Michael Leighton (11)
Goals-against average Michael Leighton (2.17)
Save percentage Michael Leighton (.921)
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.

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