The Checkers closed out 2017 with a furious slate of games on the schedule but continue to battle atop the Atlantic Division.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    21-12-1
  • Home record
    10-5-1
  • Road record
    11-7-0
  • Last two weeks' record
    2-3-0
  • Last 10 games
    6-4-0
  • Division Standings
    3rd
  • Conference Standings
    5th
  • League Standings
    6th

Hershey 5, Checkers 4

In their first matchup with Hershey of the season, the Checkers dominated for most of the contest, but a slow start proved to be their downfall. The Bears struck three times in the first 10 minutes of play, then tacked on two more within the span of a minute later in the frame to build a staggering 5-0 lead before the first horn even sounded. Julien Gauthier helped the Checkers finally break through in the waning minutes of first, starting a strong charge for the home squad that would last the next two periods. Aleksi Saarela and Warren Foegele each lit the lamp in the middle frame, then Sergey Tolchinsky pulled the Checkers within just one goal in the latter half of the third period. Charlotte would continue to push hard, outshooting the Bears 30-7 over the second and third periods, but the team could not find the equalizer before time ran out and handed Hershey the victory. Full recap

Checkers 6, Hershey 0

The Checkers were able to continue that dominant momentum the next night against Hershey. Aleksi Saarela notched a goal in each of the three periods to record his first hat trick as a North American pro and three other Checkers lit the lamp to give Charlotte 10 unanswered goals against the Bears going back to the night before. While the Checkers were pouring it on offensively, Alex Nedeljkovic stood tall between the pipes, turning aside all 20 shots he faced to pick up his first shutout of the season and seal Charlotte’s 6-0 win. Full recap

Binghamton 6, Checkers 2

After a quick break for the holidays, the Checkers headed out on the road to visit the Binghamton Devils. Valentin Zykov continued his tear with a tally in the second period to cut into the Devils’ early two-goal lead, but the home team would take over from there, registering four unanswered goals to build a substantial 6-1 lead. Roland McKeown would find the back of the net in the third for his first multi-point game as a pro, but the Checkers couldn’t spark a rally, dropping the lopsided final on the road. Full recap

Lehigh Valley 3, Checkers 1

Heading into Lehigh Valley for the first time this season, the Checkers found themselves in another hole. The Phantoms struck twice in the opening frame then tacked on another in the final seconds of the second to head into the third period ahead 3-0. The Checkers turned it on down the stretch, creating solid chances and finally breaking through via the stick of Warren Foegele, but it wouldn’t be quite enough as the Phantoms escaped with a 3-1 win. Full recap

Checkers 5, Lehigh Valley 2

The Checkers were able to right the ship for their final game of the 2017 calendar year by getting revenge on the Phantoms. Will O’Neill notched the sole tally of the first period to put the home squad ahead, but a strong push in the final five minutes of the second led to goals from Nicolas Roy and Aleksi Saarela that snatched the lead back through 40 minutes. Star rookie Warren Foegele padded the Charlotte advantage late in the third, but the Phantoms responded less than a minute later to pull back within one. The home team would then pull their goalie for the final 90 seconds in a last ditch effort to get back even, but the Checkers would make them pay, notching a pair of empty netters to break their losing skid and split the weekend series. Full recap

Three Stars Of The Week

Miller

3rd Star

Andrew Miller

0g, 5a
Roy

2nd Star

Nicolas Roy

1g, 5a
Saarela

1st Star

Aleksi Saarela

5g, 1a

Notables

YEAR IN REVIEW

The calendar year of 2017 proved to be quite the showcase for the Checkers. From January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017, Charlotte went 48-24-5-2 for a .652 points percentage, the fifth-best record in the AHL. Additionally, Valentin Zykov’s 27 goals are the fifth most in the AHL during the calendar year and Andrew Miller’s 65 points are the fourth most league wide.

CHECKERS INTERNATIONAL

Janne Kuokkanen became the first Checker to represent his country at the World Junior Championship, suiting up for Finland in this year’s event in Buffalo, but his tournament came to an end today as the Finns lost a shootout heartbreaker to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. The 19-year-old, who has missed Charlotte's last five games while participating in the World Juniors, finished with a pair of assists in five games.

In other international news, former Charlotte defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti was officially named to the United States’ Olympic team for the 2018 games in South Korea. The blue liner, who currently plays for Lugano of the top Swiss league, played for the Checkers from 2010-13 and logged 86 points in 127 games along the way, with his 50 points in 2010-11 still standing as the single-season franchise record.

Z ON TOP

Despite missing the last two games due to illness, Valentin Zykov sits atop the AHL with 19 goals this season. The Russian forward has racked up nine goals in his last eight games while picking up a point in each contest to match the longest such streak by a Checker this season.

That’s not the only area that Zykov reigns in this season, as his 11 power-play goals are tops in the AHL. That total is already the fourth-most in a single season in franchise history, with Zach Boycuk’s 18 in 2013-14 currently holding the record.

ROOKIE PHENOM

Despite a Daniel Sprong hat trick last week pushing the Wilkes-Barre to the league’s rookie goals lead, Warren Foegele continues to impress in his first season as a pro. The forward has notched five goals in his last six games, including one in each of the last two, to tie him for fourth overall in the AHL with 17 this season.

That is already the fourth-highest single-season total of all-time by a Checkers rookie, putting Foegele just seven away from Lucas Wallmark’s franchise record of 24 set last season.

THE CAPTAIN HEATS UP

Over the team’s most recent stretch, Patrick Brown has pitched in to help boost Charlotte’s prolific offense. The captain has logged eight points over the last eight games, including four multi-point games during that stretch. By comparison, Brown recorded four such games all of last season.

Ranks

  • Andrew Miller is tied for sixth in the AHL in scoring (33) and ranks sixth in assists (24)
  • Valentin Zykov leads the league in goals (19), leads the league in power-play goals (11), leads the league in shooting percentage (32.8)
  • Trevor Carrick ranks second in the AHL in power-play assists, is tied for second among league defensemen in assists (18), is tied for 12th among league defensemen in scoring (19), is tied for third among blue liners in power-play points (14)
  • Warren Foegele leads the league in shorthanded points (6), is tied for second in shorthanded assists (2) and is tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals (4), ranks second among league rookies in goals (17), ranks sixth among AHL rookies in points (27), ranks second among AHL rookies in shooting percentage (24.3) and is tied for third among league rookies in plus-minus (+14)
  • Philip Samuelsson ranks second in the AHL in plus-minus (+25)
  • Alex Nedeljkovic is tied for third in the AHL in wins
  • Roland McKeown ranks fourth in the AHL in plus-minus (+21)

INJURIES

  • Valentin Zykov missed two games due to illness starting 12/29
  • Sergey Tolchinsky missed one game starting 12/30

Transactions

Incoming

  • Dec. 30: (C) Mitchell Heard recalled by Charlotte (AHL)
  • Dec. 29: (C) Steven Lorentz recalled by Charlotte (AHL)

Outgoing

  • Dec. 29: (C) Lucas Wallmark recalled by Carolina (NHL)

Coming Up

Saturday, January 6 at 7 pm - Checkers at Hershey

Sunday, January 7 at 5 pm - Checkers at Hershey

By the Numbers

CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 22.2% 3rd 2nd
Penalty kill 82.5% 17th 14th
Goals per game 3.79 2nd 2nd
Shots per game 30.33 17th 19th
Goals allowed per game 3.00 t-13th 13th
Shots allowed per game 27.79 4th 9th
Penalty minutes per game 12.82 t-9th 16th


CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Andrew Miller (33), Valentin Zykov, Warren Foegele (27)
Goals Valentin Zykov (19), Warren Foegele (17), Aleksi Saarela (13)
Assists Andrew Miller (24), Trevor Carrick (18), Sergey Tolchinsky, Nicolas Roy (14)
Power play goals Valentin Zykov (11), Aleksi Saarela (6), Patrick Brown, Andrew Poturalski (4)
Shorthanded goals Warren Foegele (4), Nicolas Roy (2)
Game-winning goals Andrew Poturalski, Valentin Zykov, Warren Foegele (4)
Shots on goal Aleksi Saarela (74), Warren Foegele (70), Trevor Carrick, Andrew Poturalski (60)
Penalty minutes Zack Stortini (46), Trevor Carrick (42), Patrick Brown (40)
Plus/minus Philip Samuelsson (+25), Roland McKeown (+21), Warren Foegele (+14)
Wins Alex Nedeljkovic (14)
Goals-against average Alex Nedeljkovic (2.78)
Save percentage Jeremy Smith (.903)
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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