An impressive win over a top team gave the Checkers a bit of good news last week, but that result was unfortunately sandwiched between a pair of tough defeats at the hands of one of the hottest teams in the league.

The Checkers long road trip is finally coming to its conclusion with tomorrow’s matchup in Milwaukee. The team will then return home to Charlotte where they will enjoy their longest home stand of the year.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    13-20-2
  • Home record
    8-4-0
  • Road record
    5-16-2
  • Last week's record
    1-2-0
  • Last 10 games
    3-7-0
  • Division Standings
    8th
  • Conference Standings
    16th
  • League Standings
    29th

Chicago 4, Checkers 2

The Checkers traveled to Chicago for the first time last week looking to collect their first win of 2017, but the Wolves had other ideas. The two squads traded for the majority of regulation, with the Wolves grabbing the lead twice but the Checkers erasing both advantages. But less than a minute after Phil Di Giuseppe evened the score at two with six minutes remaining in regulation, Ivan Barbashev deflected a point shot past Michael Leighton to put the Wolves back on top. The Checkers made an attempt at a rally, but AHL scoring leader Kenny Agostino squashed those hopes with another tally in the waning minutes of the game to secure the 4-2 win by Chicago. Full recap

Checkers 2, Grand Rapids 1

The Checkers made the quick trip to Grand Rapids the next night, preparing to take on the conference-leading Griffins. The visitors were up to the task, however. Dennis Robertson and Patrick Dwyer combined for a pair of quick goals late in the first period to give Charlotte a two-goal advantage heading into the locker room. The Griffins would push back early on in the middle frame with a power-play marker, but that would be all they could muster. The Checkers stifled Grand Rapids’ high-powered attack, and Daniel Altshuller made 33 saves to earn a big win on the road. Full recap

Chicago 5, Checkers 1

With that key victory fresh on their minds, the Checkers returned back to Chicago looking to get revenge on the Wolves, who entered the contest as one of the hottest teams in the AHL. Things got off to a bumpy start for the visitors, as Chicago pumped in two goals quickly in the first and then another in the opening minute of the second to build a sizable lead. Phil Di Giuseppe broke through for Charlotte early in the second, but another pair of goals late in the frame reestablished the Wolves’ big advantage. The Checkers and recently signed goalie C.J. Motte, who entered the game in relief to start the third, held Chicago off the scoreboard in the final frame, but a tally from Patrick Brown was the only offense they could produce, and the Checkers fell by the lopsided score of 5-2. Full recap

Three Stars Of The Week

Di Giuseppe

3rd Star

Phil Di Giuseppe

2g, 0a
Robertson

2nd Star

Dennis Robertson

1g, 2a
Dwyer

1st Star

Patrick Dwyer

2g, 1a

Notables

POWER-PLAY PROBLEMS

Like the team’s offense in general, Charlotte’s power play has had a tough go thus far this season. The unit has produced at 10.5 percent on the man advantage, ranking it 30th out of 30 teams in the AHL, and a full 3.2 percent behind the next squad.

The Checkers have gone three games without a power-play goal, their third stretch of at least that length this season. They have notched two goals in their last 31 opportunities over the last nine games, a stretch that has seen them go 2-7-0.

The lowest power-play percentage in franchise history is 13.7, set in 2014-15. That season marks the only time in franchise history that the Checkers have finished the year with a power-play percentage outside of the top six in the AHL.

PLUMMETING PENALTY KILL

While the Checkers’ penalty kill has managed to land higher up in the league rankings, it has been going through similar struggles to the power play.

Charlotte has given up a power-play goal in each of the last five games, the team’s longest such streak this season, surrendering seven over their last 19 times shorthanded. Saturday in Chicago also marked the sixth time this season that the Checkers have allowed multiple power-play goals in a single game.

DWYER FINDS HIS GROOVE

Back in the AHL for the first time in seven years, Patrick Dwyer appears to have found his groove with the Checkers. After recording three points through the first 24 games of the season, split up by an injury that forced him out of a sizaeable chunk of games in late November, the veteran forward has exploded for four points in his last four games. That uptick includes him tallying a goal and an assist in the first period alone to help spur the Checkers to a big win over Grand Rapids on Friday.

GOALIE CAROUSEL

The rotating goalie situation continues to spin for the Checkers. With Alex Nedeljkovic in Florida and Michael Leighton serving as Cam Ward’s backup in Carolina as Eddie Lack recovers from injury, Daniel Altshuller has now taken the reins as the team’s number one goalie.

The third-year pro showed flashes of the stellar play from a year ago that kickstarted the team’s record-breaking point streak Friday in Grand Rapids, turning aside 33 shots from the formidable opponent, but struggled the following day in Chicago, getting shelled for five goals in two periods. That led head coach Ulf Samuelsson to pull his starter and insert C.J. Motte in relief for the third period. Motte, who was signed to a PTO earlier last week, became the fourth goalie to appear in a game for the Checkers this season, stopping all 11 shots he faced Saturday.

Ranks

  • Kyle Hagel is tied for the league lead in major penalties (6)
  • Despite being currently on the Hurricanes' roster, Michael Leighton ranks eighth in the AHL in goals-against average (2.17)
  • Andrew Poturalski is tied for 14th among league rookies in scoring (21)
  • Levko Koper ranks fifth among AHL rookies in shooting percentage (21.7%)

Injuries

  • Brendan Woods missed 29 games starting Nov. 2
  • Trevor Carrick missed 17 games starting Nov. 30
  • Andrew Miller missed nine games starting Dec. 17

Transactions

Incoming

  • Jan. 4 - Daniel Altshuller assigned to Charlotte
  • Jan. 3 - C.J. Motte signed to PTO

Outgoing

  • Jan. 6 - Clark Bishop assigned to Florida (ECHL)
  • Jan. 4 - Michael Leighton recalled by Carolina (NHL)

Coming Up

January 10 at 8 p.m. - Checkers at Milwaukee

Friday, Jan. 13 at 7:15 pm - Checkers vs. Cleveland

Presented by Piedmont Natural Gas
  • Teacher Appreciation Night presented by Piedmont Natural Gas - educators can get discounted $12 tickets. Contact Alice Garmon at [email protected] to make sure your school is included in this program

Saturday, Jan. 14 at 6 pm - Checkers vs. Cleveland

 
  • Caturday - rescue cats from Carolina P.A.W.S. will be on the concourse and available for adoption. More info
  • Jr. CheckMates - an all-day dance/cheer clinic for ages 6-14 culminates with an on-ice performance during game
  • WSOC's Steve's Coats for Kids - donate a coat at the game and receive a free ticket for March 5!

By the Numbers

CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 10.5% 30th 29th
Penalty kill 78.4% 24th 21st
Goals per game 2.31 30th 27th
Shots per game 29.69 16th 13th
Goals allowed per game 3.00 19th t-16th
Shots allowed per game 28.69 8th 7th
Penalty minutes per game 11.49 6th 8th


CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Andrew Poturalski (21), Lucas Wallmark (17), Sergey Tolchinsky (15)
Goals Valentin Zykov, Lucas Wallmark (8), Andrew Poturalski (7)
Assists Andrew Poturalski (14), Sergey Tolchinsky (11), Lucas Wallmark (9)
Power play goals Valentin Zykov (3), Andrew Poturalski, Lucas Wallmark, Derek Ryan (2)
Shorthanded goals Patrick Brown, Derek Ryan, Brock McGinn, Patrick Dwyer (1)
Game-winning goals Brock McGinn, Patrick Brown (2)
Shots on goal Roland McKeown (70), Phil Di Giuseppe (69), Andrew Poturalski (68)
Penalty minutes Kyle Hagel (41), Mitchell Heard (33), Connor Brickley (32)
Plus/minus Matt Tennyson (+7), Levko Koper (+5), Derek Ryan, Erik Karlsson (+4)
Wins Michael Leighton (8)
Goals-against average Michael Leighton (2.17)
Save percentage Michael Leighton (.923)
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.