With time running out and their playoff hopes on the line, the Checkers will have to bounce back quickly for a pair of games in Manitoba at the end of the week.
Week in Review
Last week's record1-3-0
Last 10 games5-4-1
Milwaukee 5, Checkers 2Special teams struggles were once again the downfall of the Checkers Tuesday night against the Admirals, as Milwaukee pumped in three power-play goals to turn a tightly-contested affair into a lopsided final. After falling in an early hole, a flurry of scoring in the waning moments of the second pulled the Checkers within one goal heading into the final 20 minutes of play. That rally would be quickly snuffed out, however, as the Admirals converted two man advantages early in the third to put things out of reach for Charlotte and run away with a 5-2 win. Full recap
Checkers 5, Milwaukee 4 (SO)In their final meeting of the season the next night, the Checkers were able to get some revenge on the Admirals. A wild first period saw Milwaukee build a 2-0 lead less than two minutes in only to have the Checkers draw back even two minutes after. Each team would tack on one more for good measure before exiting the first period tied at three. The scoring slowed from there, with the Admirals continuing their power-play dominance by adding another goal in the second before Andrew Poturalski responded in the third, drawing the score back even and eventually forcing overtime. The extra period yielded no winner, so the Checkers found themselves in a shootout for just the second time this year. Matt White broke the ice in the third round, but Danny Kristo answered to keep the home team alive and force things into sudden death. Mike Ribeiro again gave the Admirals a shot to win with a goal two rounds later, but Sergey Tolchinsky answered the call and extended the shootout. Finally, in the bottom of the eighth round, Kris Newbury sent the fans home happy with a walk-off snipe to lift Charlotte to a 5-4 win. Full recap
Bakersfield 5, Checkers 2Welcoming Bakersfield to town for the first time ever, the Checkers couldn’t quite muster up enough to pick up the two points. Two Bakersfield goals in the first and another less than a minute into the second put the Checkers in quite a hole to start, but back-to-back strikes early on in the third pulled the home team within striking distance. Charlotte upped the pressure down the stretch, doubling up the dazed Condors in the third period, but the Checkers couldn’t find a way to convert any of their opportunities. With Charlotte pulling its goalie in one last ditch effort to tie the game, Bakersfield deposited two pucks into the empty net to push things out of reach and cruise to a 5-2 victory. Full recap
Bakersfield 7, Checkers 2The Checkers entered the next day’s rematch looking to avenge the night before, but again fell into an early 2-0 hole. Bakersfield’s heavy-hitting offense kept it coming in the middle frame, holding a 4-1 lead late in the second, but a breakaway strike from Sergey Tolchinsky gave the Checkers some life heading into the third period down by two goals. Once again, however, those comeback hopes wouldn’t come to fruition, as the Condors would pump in three more tallies in the final frame to steamroll the home team with a 7-2 victory, completing their weekend sweep of Charlotte. Full recap
Three Stars Of The Week
Philip Samuelsson1g, 2a
Connor Brickley1g, 2a
Andrew Poturalski2g, 2a
WEST COAST WOESAfter a solid run last season, the Checkers have struggled mightily against the Pacific Division this year. Through 18 games against those opponents, the Checkers are 5-12-1, with three of those wins coming against Tucson and the other coming against Stockton, and four of the five coming on home ice. Over that stretch, the Checkers have been outscored 56-36.
Getting swept by Bakersfield clinches that the Checkers will finish below .500 against Pacific Division opponents this season, but they still have a chance to pick up some crucial points down the stretch as they host Ontario next weekend then San Antonio and Texas during the first weekend of April.
TROUBLE ON THE HOME FRONTWhile they have been one of the best teams on home ice throughout much of the season, the Checkers dropped both contests at Bojangles’ Coliseum this past weekend. That marked just the third time this year that they have lost consecutive games at home. Charlotte will have a chance to right the ship next week when it hosts Ontario, as the team has not lost three straight games at home this season.
PLAYOFF PICTUREThe Checkers’ playoff hopes took a bit of a hit over the last week, but they still remain in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. Currently in sixth place, the Checkers are one point behind the fifth-place Cleveland Monsters with one more game played than them. Both the Checkers and Monsters are chasing the Iowa Wild, who lead Charlotte by six points and have played one more game.
Looking ahead to this coming week, the Checkers will face the Manitoba Moose twice while Iowa visits the Texas Stars for two games and the Monsters hit the road for three contests against Central Division powers Milwaukee and Chicago, as well as San Antonio.
After entering last week with the eighth-best defense in the AHL in terms of goals-against per game, the Checkers have had a stretch that has plummeted them to 18th. Charlotte has allowed 21 goals over the last four games and 37 over the last nine, surrendering at least four goals in seven of their last nine games as well.
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Last Week's News
FRESHMAN PHENOMAnother big week has pushed Andrew Poturalski into the top tier of this year’s first-year pros. With four points in as many games last week, the 23-year-old now has 42 on the season, tying him for second among all AHL rookies. The player currently tied with him, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Jake Guentzel, thriving in the NHL, Poturalski’s biggest competitor for the rookie scoring crown is current leader Daniel O’Regan, who sits five points ahead.
While Poturalski chases the rookie scoring lead, he also has a spot in the record books in his sights. The forward already has the second-highest point total by a rookie in franchise history, and needs 15 points in the final 19 games to match Zac Dalpe’s record of 57, set in 2010-11.
Over the last 22 games, Poturalski has racked up 21 points, including six goals in his last nine games.
SPECIAL TEAMS STRUGGLESAfter a seemingly breakout performance of three goals in two games in early February, the Checkers’ power play has fallen back into a rut. Charlotte is scoreless in 21 man advantages over the last eight games, with its league-worst percentage dipping to 10.5. The lowest power-play percentage for a full season in AHL history is 10.36.
On the other side, the Checkers were able to halt the tail spin that their penalty kill had been stuck in by successfully killing the lone power play Bakersfield was awarded on Sunday. Prior to that, the Checkers had surrendered five power-play goals in 14 opportunities over three games.
- Michael Leighton ranks 4th in the AHL in goals-against average (2.17) and tied for 5th in shutouts (3)
- Andrew Poturalski is tied for second among league rookies in scoring (42) and ranks fifth in assists (27)
- Lucas Wallmark is tied for third among league rookies in goals (19) and tied for 14th among rookies in points (35)
- Kyle Hagel missed 13 games starting Feb. 3
- Patrick Dwyer missed nine games starting Feb. 17
- Michael Leighton missed eight games starting Feb. 18
- March 3: (D) Tyler Ganly recalled from Florida (ECHL)
- March 3: (C) Andrej Nestrasil assigned by Carolina (NHL)
- March 1: (C) Patrick Brown recalled by Carolina (NHL)