Week in Review
Last weeks' record1-1-1
Last 10 games4-4-2
Lehigh Valley 3, Checkers 2The Checkers kicked off their three-in-three weekend with a matchup against the division rival Phantoms. After Valentin Zykov opened the scoring with a power-play tally in the first period, the home team bounced back in the second with a pair of their own. The Checkers pushed back in the third to even the score thanks to a breakaway strike from Warren Foegele, but the Phantoms notched the go-ahead goal with just three minutes left in regulation to clinch the back-and-forth win. Alex Nedeljkovic turned aside 23 of the 26 shots he was faced with, but former Checker John Muse stole the show for Lehigh Valley, making 38 saves to pick up the victory. Full recap
Hershey 6, Checkers 5 (SO)The team then took off for Hershey the next night and engaged in a high-scoring battle with the Bears. The Checkers fell into a quick hole when the home squad jumped ahead to a 3-0 lead less than five minutes into the second frame, but were able to punch their way back into the contest with three straight goals. Riley Barber notched his second power-play goal late in the middle frame to push the Bears back on top but that lead wouldn’t make it to the intermission as Julien Gauthier pounded a loose puck out front in the final minute to send the game to the third all tied at four. Aleksi Saarela gave Charlotte its first lead of the night midway through the third period, but the Checkers couldn’t keep a hold on that and Travis Boyd converted Hershey’s third power-play goal of the night in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime. After a back-and-forth extra frame that saw both sides get a shot at the man advantage but no goals, the game proceeded to a shootout. After both teams lit the lamp once in the first four rounds, Boyd found the back of the net to put the balance of the game on the stick of Janne Kuokkanen, whose attempt was poke checked away to seal the second point for Hershey. Full recap
Checkers 5, Hershey 2In the final leg of a grueling three-in-three weekend, the Checkers showed no signs of slowing down against the Bears. Starting with a snipe from Aleksi Saarela 70 seconds into the game, the Checkers racked up five goals in the first period to establish a staggering lead over their hosts. The Bears would cut into that advantage with a pair of their own in the second, but that would wind up as all the scoring on the night. Alex Nedeljkovic, playing in his third game in as many nights, made 29 stops to pick up his AHL-best 18th win on the season. Full recap
Three Stars Of The Week
Roland McKeown1g, 3a
Lucas Wallmark1g, 4a
Aleksi Saarela3g, 1a
HIGH FIVEDespite still boasting the third-best offense in the AHL, the Checkers have had some struggles lighting the lamp as of late, scoring two or fewer goals in eight of their last 13 games. Their two most recent contests showed a hopeful spark, however. The Checkers hung five goals in back-to-back games against Hershey this weekend, the 16th and 17th times they’ve hit that mark this season. That is also the fourth time they’ve registered at least five goals in consecutive games and the first time since Nov. 8 and 10.
LEAGUE LEADERWith another tally at Lehigh Valley on Friday, Valentin Zykov once again claimed the league lead in goals. His 23rd of the season moved him into a tie for the eighth-most in a single season in franchise history, one shy of Lucas Wallmark’s team-leading mark form a year ago and 13 away from Zach Boychuk’s team record 36 from 2013-14.
The Russian forward’s assault on the record books doesn’t stop there. Zykov also leads the league with 13 power-play goals this season, a season total that only two other Checkers have been able to best – Chris Terry’s 14 in 2013-14 and Zach Boychuk’s 18 that same year.
RISE AND FALL OF SPECIAL TEAMSAfter falling into a season-worst five-game power-play drought in early January, the Checkers have found their way again on the man advantage. The team has notched a power-play goal in six of the eight games since snapping that skid – including picking up one in each of this weekend’s three-in-three – and is currently tied for fifth in the AHL on the man advantage.
The flip side hasn’t enjoyed that kind of luck, however. The Checkers’ penalty kill has fallen to a tie for 23rd in the AHL thanks to allowing a power-play marker in 12 of their last 16 games. Things have been especially rough as of late, with the team surrendering nine such goals in their last six contests, including a pair of games in which they gave up three power-play goals each.
SAARELA STRIKESAleksi Saarela broke out of a one-goal-in-10-games stretch in a big way this weekend, racking up three goals and an assist over the two-game set in Hershey. That explosion has pushed the Finnish forward into third on the team in goal scoring, while his six tallies on the man advantage rank second.
Saarela has been especially deadly against the Bears this season, compiling seven goals in six games against Hershey, including his first career hat trick in December.
POINTS FOR MCKEOWNIn his second pro season, Roland McKeown has tapped into his scoring side for the Checkers. The blue liner went off for four points during the team’s weekend three-in-three, notching a goal and three helpers. That offensive outburst puts McKeown second among Charlotte blue liners in scoring, while his four goals are tied for the team lead along with Trevor Carrick.
McKeown has made several strides since his rookie campaign a year ago. The blue liner has already eclipsed his 71-game totals for goals, assists and points through just 41 contests this season.
- Valentin Zykov leads the lead in goals (23), power-play goals (13) and shooting percentage (29.1) and is tied for third in the AHL in game-winning goals (5)
- Andrew Miller is tied for eighth in the AHL in scoring (41) and tied for fifth in assists (30)
- Warren Foegele leads all rookies and is tied for fourth overall in goals (21), leads the league in shorthanded points and is tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals (4), is tied for third in the AHL in game-winning goals (5), ranks seventh among AHL rookies in scoring (34) and ranks third among rookies in shooting percentage (21.0)
- Trevor Carrick is ranked second in the AHL in power-play assists (16), tied for 10th among league defensemen in scoring (24) and tied for third among blue liners in power-play points (18)
- Philip Samuelsson ranks second in the AHL in plus-minus (+28)
- Roland McKeown is tied for fourth in the AHL in plus-minus (+25)
- Alex Nedeljkovic is tied for the league lead in wins (18)
- Nicolas Roy is tied for second among AHL rookies in shorthanded goals and points
- Sergey Tolchinsky missed 14 games starting 12/30
Wednesday, February 7 at 7:05 pm - Checkers at Lehigh Valley
- Share the Warmth presented by Piedmont Natural Gas - the first 1,500 to arrive get a free winter hat!
- Family Night presented by Fairfield Inn and Suites - save $45 (40 percent) on groups of four tickets when purchasing online
- Smile Drive benefiting America's Toothfairy - bring a toothbrush and toothpaste to donate to underserved children in Charlotte and receive a free ticket voucher for our game on Sunday, April 8
- Ovarian Cancer Awareness Night
- Eric Feldman Tribute - purchase $16 tickets with $5 going back to Hospitality House of Charlotte. Buy here
- Hockey and Heels - Exclusive event for women benefiting Teal Diva includes game ticket, on-ice lesson and demonstration, Paint and Sip sponsored by Studio Cellar, Q&A session with Checkers COO Tera Black and Checkers wives, and more! Tickets on sale now.
- College Night presented by Hendrick Acura - Get $15 best available tickets in the Gold and Attack Zone sections when purchasing online with your valid college email address. Click the button and use promo code CHECKERS (case sensitive).
By the Numbers
|CATEGORY||RECORD||AHL RANK||LAST WEEK|
|Goals per game||3.38||3rd||4th|
|Shots per game||29.83||19th||21st|
|Goals allowed per game||3.11||t-18th||18th|
|Shots allowed per game||27.06||3rd||3rd|
|Penalty minutes per game||12.72||11th||10th|
|Points||Andrew Miller (42), Valentin Zykov (35), Warren Foegele (34)|
|Goals||Valentin Zykov (23), Warren Foegele (21), Aleksi Saarela (17)|
|Assists||Andrew Miller (31), Lucas Wallmark (20), Trevor Carrick (19)|
|Power play goals||Valentin Zykov (13), Aleksi Saarela (6), Patrick Brown, Andrew Poturalski (4)|
|Shorthanded goals||Warren Foegele (4), Nicolas Roy (2), Clark Bishop (1)|
|Game-winning goals||Valentin Zykov, Warren Foegele (5), Andrew Poturalski (4)|
|Shots on goal||Aleksi Saarela (102), Warren Foegele (100), Trevor Carrick (95)|
|Penalty minutes||Trevor Carrick (68), Zack Stortini (55), Patrick Brown (44)|
|Plus/minus||Philip Samuelsson (+28), Roland McKeown (+25), Patrick Brown (+17)|
|Wins||Alex Nedeljkovic (18)|
|Goals-against average||Alex Nedeljkovic (2.66)|
|Save percentage||Alex Nedeljkovic (.897)|