Charlotte Checkers at Rockford IceHogs
In their season finale, the Checkers had all the appearance of a team eliminated from playoff contention one night earlier.

Charlotte allowed a franchise-record five power-play goals en route to a convincing 7-3 loss in Rockford, causing them to finish the season with three straight losses. Victor Rask, Ryan Murphy and Brody Sutter scored for the Checkers, who got 30 saves from John Muse and finished the month of April with just one victory in seven games.

The game had no impact on the standings for either team, as both were eliminated by way of their own regulation losses and a point earned by Oklahoma City on Friday. Along with the 5-1 loss in Milwaukee that officially ended their playoff hopes, opposing teams out-scored Charlotte 12-4 on the final road trip.

While the final totals were not official as of the game’s conclusion, a silver lining from the day is that forward Zach Boychuk seemed likely to capture the Willie Marshall trophy as the AHL’s top goal scorer with a career=high and franchise-record 36 on the season. With some games yet to conclude, Boychuk, a Second-Team All Star who finished the game ranked second in the league with 74 points, had at least four more goals than any other player.

The game was actually tied 2-2 after one period, with the teams trading goals after Rockford’s Ryan Hartman opened the scoring after just three and a half minutes. Both of the Checkers’ goals came on the power play courtesy of Rask, who fooled goalie Kent Simpson with an innocent-looking wrist shot off the rush, and Murphy, who snuck in the point and fired home a nice feed from Justin Shugg, on either side of a man-advantage goal by Brian Connelly.

Rockford’s rout took off early in the second period when they scored twice on a double minor for high sticking committed by Checkers rookie Phil Di Giuseppe. After a rare even-strength goal 50 seconds into the third period made it 5-2, Brandon Mashinter and Pat Mullane made Charlotte defenseman Matt Corrente pay for minor penalties taken two minutes apart.

The IceHogs’ five power-play goals tied the most by any AHL team this season. The feat was accomplished a total of five times, including once by Charlotte in a 9-3 win over Oklahoma City, the team that just eliminated them from the postseason, on Jan. 24.

Sutter scored a consolation goal for the Checkers with 7:17 remaining on assists from Murphy, who finished the weekend with three points (2g, 1a) in two games, and Di Giuseppe, who recorded his first professional point.


This April (1-6-0) goes down as the worst month in Checkers history in terms of percentage of possible points earned (14.3). November was the second-worst at 18.2 percent (2-9-0), while March (12-4-0) was the second-best (75.0) … The Checkers finished with a 4-3-1 record in the season series against Rockford … The Checkers finished the game 2-for-2 on the power play, having not received an opportunity in the second and third periods. They went 14-for-36 (38.9 percent) over the course of the season series against Rockford … Sutter’s goal was his 50th professional point … Boychuk led the Checkers with six shots, while Murphy and Aaron Palushaj each had five … Michal Jordan finished the game with a plus-1 rating … Forward Sergey Tolchinsky (no shots, minus-1) and defenseman Dennis Robertson (three shots, even) each made their professional debuts … Forwards Matt Marquardt and Jared Staal and defenseman Mark Flood were healthy extras … Forwards Philippe Cornet, Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods missed out due to injury.
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.

May 2018
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