The Checkers picked up two of their biggest wins of the season over the weekend and set themselves up for a critical showdown against Iowa this week.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    30-27-4
  • Home record
    20-9-1
  • Road record
    10-18-3
  • Last week's record
    2-0-0
  • Last 10 games
    7-3-0
  • Division Standings
    5th
  • Conference Standings
    9th
  • League Standings
    19th

Checkers 5, Ontario 3

Welcoming the Ontario Reign to town for the first and last time this season, the Checkers weathered a comeback attempt and ended up with two points in the standings. After each team broke through in the final minute of the first period, the Checkers nabbed a pair of goals from Connor Brickley and Brendan Woods in the middle frame to build up a two-goal lead. The Reign would erase that advantage, however, with former Checker T.J. Hensick evening the score with a power-play tally five minutes into the third. Brickley would come through once again, though, burying a chance all alone out front to regain Charlotte’s lead, followed by Lucas Wallmark icing the contest with an empty netter in the waning moments of regulation. Full recap

Checkers 3, Ontario 2 (OT)

The next night’s rematch was a similarly close affair. The Checkers again built up a two goal lead through 40 minutes of play only to see the Reign storm back and tie things with a power-play goal in the final four minutes to force overtime. The Checkers wasted no time in the extra frame, however, with Connor Brickley popping in the rebound off of an Andrew Poturalski shot just 31 seconds in to earn Charlotte its fourth consecutive victory and a weekend sweep of Ontario. Full recap

Three Stars Of The Week

Dwyer

3rd Star

Patrick Dwyer

0g, 3a
Poturalski

2nd Star

Andrew Poturalski

1g, 3a
Brickley

1st Star

Connor Brickley

3g, 0a

Notables

PLAYOFF PICTURE

This past weekend’s sweep over the Ontario Reign proved to be a critical piece in the Checkers’ push for the playoffs. Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the Checkers now trail the Iowa Wild by four points for the final playoff spot. They can pull even this week when they host the Wild for a pair of games at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Chasing the Checkers are the defending Calder Cup champion Cleveland Monsters, who trail Charlotte by one point, though they have played one more game.

GOING STREAKING

Charlotte’s win last night was its fourth in a row, marking the fifth time the team has put together a streak of three or more wins this season – four of which have come since the calendar turned to 2017. Their only streak longer than three games was a six-game run from Oct. 28-Nov. 11.

The current run is the second-longest by the team this season, trailing only a six-game winning streak from Oct. 28-Nov. 11.

HOME COOKING

By beating the Reign on Saturday, the Checkers picked up their 20th home win of the season, marking the highest total since their inaugural 2010-11 campaign when they earned 22 home wins during the 80-game season. Charlotte is one of 10 teams in the AHL with at least 20 wins at home, one of five in the Western Conference, and the team’s .683 winning percentage on home ice is the fifth-best in the conference.

CLUTCH CONNOR

Connor Brickley’s offensive tear continues to roll on, as he is now currently riding a four-game goal streak, the longest by a Checker this season. In addition to the five goals he’s piled up during that streak, the forward has nine points in his last nine games and 13 of his 20 points this season have come exclusively during the months of February and March. Brickley has also shown a knack for showing up in clutch situations. He leads the team with five game-winning goals this season and has the game winner in each of the Checkers last three games.

FRESHMAN PHENOM

The Checkers’ two top weapons this season have been the rookie duo of Andrew Poturalski and Lucas Wallmark, and this weekend was another shining example of that.

With five points in his last three games, Poturalski’s season total now sits at 47, putting him second among all AHL rookies. The first-year pro has recorded at least one point in 20 of his last 26 games and has also pushed his way past Valentin Zykov for second on the Checkers in goals. Having already clinched the second-highest rookie point total in franchise history, Poturalski is chasing Zac Dalpe for the all-time mark. To catch Dalpe’s 2010-11 total, he will need 10 points over the last 15 games.

As for Wallmark, the rookie didn’t miss a beat returning to Charlotte after making his NHL debut recently. The Swede has six points in his last four games, pulling himself into a tie for eighth among AHL rookies. But Wallmark’s calling card this season has been his goal scoring, as his 22 goals put him second among all league rookies. Friday’s empty-net tally moved Wallmark within one of tying Zac Dalpe’s franchise record for most goals by a rookie in a single season.

MILLER TIME

Andrew Miller’s offensive resurgence continued to roll on over the weekend, as his two-point effort on Saturday was his fourth in the last 11 games. The forward has erupted for 18 points in his last 17 games since returning from an injury that sidelined him for over a month.

MCCOLLUM STEPS IN

After turning in a 49-save debut with the Checkers, Tom McCollum has taken the reins in goal for Charlotte. The netminder has started each of the last three games for the Checkers and picked up a win in all of them. Including his one game with Stockton, McCollum is 4-0-0 this season with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.

PLUS PERFORMERS

Haydn Fleury has become a steadying force on the blue line this season. The rookie defenseman leads the team with a plus-12 rating, which would be the third-highest by a Charlotte rookie if the season were to end today. The franchise record for plus/minus in a single season for both rookies and defenseman is plus-16.

Joining Fleury atop the team’s plus/minus rankings are Jake Chelios and Lucas Wallmark, who are plus-19 and plus-14 in 30 games since Jan. 1, respectively.

Ranks

  • Michael Leighton ranks third in the AHL in goals-against average (2.17)
  • Andrew Poturalski ranks second among league rookies in scoring (47) and ranks fourth in assists (31)
  • Lucas Wallmark ranks second among league rookies in goals (22), tied for 16th in the AHL overall, tied for eighth among rookies in points (41) and tied for the rookie lead in shorthanded points (3)

INJURIES

  • Kyle Hagel missed 17 games starting Feb. 3
  • Michael Leighton missed 12 games starting Feb. 18
  • Bryan Bickell missed three games starting Mar. 10
  • Erik Karlsson missed two games starting Mar. 17
  • Danny Kristo missed two games starting Mar. 17
  • Clark Bishop missed one games starting Mar. 18

Transactions

Incoming

  • March 15: (C) Lucas Wallmark assigned to Charlotte (AHL)
  • March 15: (C) Mitchell Heard recalled by Charlotte (AHL)

Outgoing

  • None

Coming Up

Tuesday, March 21 at 7 pm - Checkers vs. Iowa

Presented by Parks Heating and Cooling
  • None listed

Wednesday, March 22 at 7 pm - Checkers vs. Iowa

Presented by Bud LightPresented by Farm BureauPresented by Hendrick AcuraPresented by Parks Heating and Cooling
  • Winning Wednesday presented by Farm Bureau Insurance - enjoy $1 Bud Light draughts and get a free ticket to our next Wednesday game on April 5 if we win!
  • College Night presented by Hendrick Acura - save on tickets by using your valid college email address! Click here for info.

Saturday, March 25 at 6 pm - Checkers vs. Chicago

Presented by Verizon
  • Phone Drive benefiting Verizon HopeLine - donate a no-longer used cell phone with batterly included, chargers and accessories at the game to receive a free ticket for Saturday, April 8!
  • Domestic Violence Prevention Night presented by Verizon

Sunday, March 26 at 1 pm - Checkers vs. Chicago

 
  • Pooch Party - bring your dog to the game! More info and purchase tickets
  • Chubby's Birthday Party
  • Daddy/Daughter Day - package of two tickets for $40 includes two Checkers hats, pregame activities with Disney Princesses, hair braiding, nail painting and face painting. Contact Alice Woods at [email protected] or (704) 444-1887 to purchase.

By the Numbers

CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 10.4% 30th 30th
Penalty kill 80.1% 22nd 20th
Goals per game 2.72 t-18th t-20th
Shots per game 30.87 t-10th 11th
Goals allowed per game 2.87 17th t-17th
Shots allowed per game 29.28 11th 13th
Penalty minutes per game 10.80 3rd 3rd


CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Andrew Poturalski (47), Lucas Wallmark (41), Valentin Zykov (30)
Goals Lucas Wallmark (22), Andrew Poturalski (16), Valentin Zykov (15)
Assists Andrew Poturalski (31), Jake Chelios (21), Andrew Miller (20)
Power play goals Valentin Zykov, Andrew Poturalski (4)
Shorthanded goals Lucas Wallmark (2)
Game-winning goals Connor Brickley (5)
Shots on goal Lucas Wallmark, Andrew Poturalski (131), Jake Chelios (122)
Penalty minutes Connor Brickley (55), Mitchell Heard (53), Kyle Hagel (48)
Plus/minus Haydn Fleury (+12), Lucas Wallmark (+9), Jake Chelios (+8)
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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