The Checkers returned home and got revenge on the team that eliminated them from last year’s playoffs with a pair of big wins over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    36-14-7
  • Home record
    16-6-4
  • Road record
    20-8-3
  • Last week's record
    2-0-0
  • Last 10 games
    5-3-2
  • Division Standings
    1st
  • Conference Standings
    1st
  • League Standings
    1st

Checkers 2, Lehigh Valley 1

Draped in Miracle On Ice-themed sweaters, the Checkers took down the Phantoms in a tight 2-1 contest. The visitors opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally late in the first but that would prove to be their only conversion on the night as Alex Nedeljkovic finished with 25 saves on 26 shots. Nick Schilkey kept his scoring roll going to tie the game before the first buzzer, then Haydn Fleury threaded a wrister through traffic for what would stand as the game-winning goal midway through the second to hand Charlotte the win. Full recap

Checkers 5, Lehigh Valley 2

The Checkers came away with a win the next night in a much more decisive fashion. Heading into the middle frame tied at one, Morgan Geekie and Andrew Poturalski each lit the lamp followed by a Julien Gauthier tally early on in the third to blow the game wide open. The Phantoms would break through in the final frame but couldn’t muster a comeback from there, and Gauthier’s second of the night in the waning moments of regulation sealed the 5-2 victory for Charlotte. Full recap

Three Stars Of The Week

Gauthier

3rd Star

Julien Gauthier

2g, 0a
Didier

2nd Star

Josiah Didier

1g, 2a
Nedeljkovic

1st Star

Alex Nedeljkovic

2-0-0, 1.51 GAA, .946 SV%

Notables

BACK ON TRACK

After going through their worst stretch of the season so far – a 10-game stretch that saw them log a 2-4-4 record – the Checkers pulled off a big weekend sweep over the team that eliminated them from last year’s playoffs. With that pair of victories the Checkers have now won four of their last five games and will finish February with a winning record, making it the fifth consecutive month this season they’ve hit that milestone.

BRICK WALL NED

Alex Nedeljkovic was between the pipes for both games against Lehigh Valley, stopping 53 of the 56 shots he faced to come away with a pair of victories. The third-year pro, who led the league in wins a season ago, has now run his win total to 26 and leads every other goalie in the AHL by at least six. Friday’s win pushed Nedeljkovic past John Muse to become the franchise’s all-time leader, and he currently sits five shy of the franchise record for wins in a single season – a mark that he himself set a season ago.

Nedeljkovic has been in net for each of the Checkers’ last 10 wins and has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his last nine starts.

DIDS IS DIALED IN

Josiah Didier has been a key piece on the blue line since returning from injury and has recently ramped up his offensive production as well. The defenseman has points in three straight games for just the second time in his career and is one shy of his longest, set in 2016-17 with St. John’s. The 25-year-old is two-shy of matching his career-high point total from a season ago despite appearing in only 29 games thus far.

GAUTHIER'S GOALS

With his second two-goal effort of the season on Saturday, Julien Gauthier has now eclipsed his goal total from his rookie campaign a year ago in eight fewer games. The forward, who currently has four goals and five points in his last five contests, has now pulled into a tie with Aleksi Saarela for the most tallies on the team this season.

Ranks

  • Andrew Poturalski is tied for sixth in the AHL in scoring (51), tied for 9th in assists (32) and tied for sixth in game-winning goals (6)
  • Dan Renouf is tied for fourth in the AHL in penalty minutes (105)
  • Alex Nedeljkovic leads the league in wins (26), ranks third in minutes (2,202), ranks fifth in saves (912) and ranks sixth in goals-against average (2.42)
  • Jake Bean ranks second in points (33), tied for first in goals (1) and ranks third in assists among rookie defensemen, is tied for sixth among AHL defensemen in goals, and is tied for eighth among all rookies in assists
  • Morgan Geekie is tied for seventh among AHL rookies in goals (15) and ranks third in shooting percentage (22.7)
  • Martin Necas is tied for 10th among league rookies in assists
  • Trevor Carrick is tied for second among league defensemen in game-winning goals (4)

INJURIES

  • Aleksi Saarela - Missed two games starting 2/22
  • Roland McKeown - Missed three game starting 2/17
  • Spencer Smallman - Missed 44 games starting 11/11

Transactions

Incoming

  • Feb. 25: (RW) Tomas Jurco - Acquired from Springfield (AHL)

Outgoing

  • Feb. 25: (RW) Cliff Pu - Traded to Florida (NHL)

Coming Up

Friday, March 1 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Binghamton Devils

Piedmont Natural Gas

Mental Health Awareness Night

  • Go Red for Women
  • Sports Equipment Drive presented by the American Heart Association - donate a piece of sports equipment (footballs, jump rope or soccer balls) to local schools at the game to receive a free ticket to our game on Sunday, March 24

Saturday, March 2 at 6 p.m. - Checkers vs. Binghamton Devils

Wrestling Night

  • Featuring an appearance and pregame autograph session with WWE Superstar R-Truth. Special package including a game ticket and a photo print for autographs is available now for just $20.
  • Scouts BSA Night and scout sleepover - contact Jeremy Recoon at [email protected] to purchase
  • Free Husqvarna hats for the first 1,000 fans

By the Numbers

CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 17.2% t-21st 19th
Penalty kill 84.5% 3rd 4th
Goals per game 3.19 16th t-15th
Shots per game 30.02 t-16th 16th
Goals allowed per game 2.79 t-4th 8th
Shots allowed per game 27.53 3rd 3rd
Penalty minutes per game 13.47 9th 9th


LEADERS

CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Andrew Poturalski (51), Aleksi Saarela (37), Janne Kuokkanen (36)
Goals Andrew Poturalski (19), Aleksi Saarela, Julien Gauthier (17)
Assists Andrew Poturalski (32), Janne Kuokkanen (25), Jake Bean (23)
Power play goals Janne Kuokkanen (6), Julien Gauthier (5), Three tied (4)
Shorthanded goals Saku Maenalanen (3), Patrick Brown, Nicolas Roy, Michal Cajkovsky (1)
Game-winning goals Andrew Poturalski (6), Nicolas Roy (5), Trevor Carrick, Aleksi Saarela (4)
Shots on goal Aleksi Saarela (141), Andrew Poturalski (132), Jake Bean, Trevor Carrick (125)
Penalty minutes Dan Renouf (105), Trevor Carrick (70), Julien Gauthier (53)
Plus/minus Roland McKeown, Morgan Geekie (+17), Nick Schilkey, Martin Necas (+11)
Wins Alex Nedeljkovic (26)
Goals-against average Alex Nedeljkovic (2.42)
Save percentage Alex Nedeljkovic (.911)
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.