Charlotte Checkers News Harris Teeter
  • All
  • Features
  • Transactions
  • Recaps
  • Community
  • Promotions
  • Features
  • The voting process for our 2014-15 end-of-year awards is now complete! The winners of team MVP, best forward, best defenseman, rookie of the year, most improved and unsung hero, as chosen by staff, media and fans, are listed here. For each category, Checkers staff, media and fans explained their choices, with each choice counting as one vote. The player who received the most votes in each category won that award, with any tiebreakers going to the fans. MVP Winner: Drew MacIntyre MVP Paul Branecky, Checkers VP of Communications: Right off the bat, this is the toughest call to make. Everyone in this category contributed in their own way and comparing those across positions is a little apple-and-orangeish, but I’ll give the nod to Drew MacIntyre in goal. He had some dominant stretches this season, kept the team in games and was responsible for a lot of those 2-1 victories. With the way he got better in pressure situations (stopped 46 of 50 total shots in overtime, stopped 21 of 23 in the shootout), I would have loved to see him in the playoffs. Nicholas Niedzielsi, Checkers Manager of Communications: As tough as this season was, it could have been much worse had it not been for the play of Drew MacIntyre. The Checkers’ biggest weak spot all year was scoring goals, so it was necessary for them to have a goalie to keep them in games, and MacIntyre did just that. With 23 one-goal games throughout the season, the veteran netminder put his team in a position to be competitive more often than not. He also set franchise records with 51 games played and 13 games with 35 or more saves, as well as establishing himself as one of the most vocal leaders in the locker room. All-in-all, the majority of the positives that came out of this year were due to the stellar play of MacIntyre. Fans (30.6 percent), as represented by Jenni Propst: For me to give a player his own hashtag, he has to be pretty outstanding, and Drew MacIntyre was nothing but #MACnificent for the Checkers this season. When his teammates struggled with confidence, MacIntyre was there. Because of Mac’s experience and demeanor, his addition to the Hurricanes goaltending roster was one of the most important off-season signings the organization made. I referred to his glove saves as Mr. Miyagi like, because when Mac was in net, his hands moved so fast it was as if he was grabbing flies out of the air with a pair of chopsticks. Though the Checkers struggled in the standings, Mac’s play kept Charlotte in the game and helped add numbers to the win column. MacIntyre came to Charlotte this season with a resume full of awards and accolades, and it’s no surprise that he ended the year with another one from Charlotte as the Fans’ Most Valuable Player. Also receiving votes Seth Lakso, reporter for the Charlotte Observer - Brendan Woods: Easily the toughest decision of the bunch. A case could be made for Drew MacIntyre, Justin Shugg, Chad LaRose and Trevor Carrick. But in the end, this team fed off Woods' energy all season. The second-year forward was a Gordie Howe Hat Trick waiting to happen on any given night. He played both center and wing for the Checkers and never once complained, while still posting career highs in points (30) and goals (13). Best Forward Winner: Justin Shugg Best Forward Lakso: Whether you call him "Shuggernaut" or "Shuggy Bear," the team (and career) highs in goals (21) and points (43) are hard to ignore. Shugg taking over at the point during Checkers' power plays did wonders for a special teams unit that struggled mightily for most of the season. Fans (40.9 percent), as represented by Jenni Propst: Though he missed nearly a month early on due to injury, Justin Shugg really came into his own this year. He led the team in goals (21) and points (43) and shined as an offensive standout with a number of game winning and shootout winning goals. As a fourth year pro, this season saw Shugg’s first NHL games, and a true leadership role develop on a Checkers squad that had 18 (yes, 18!) rookies dress throughout the season. The Checkers (and their big brother team of the Carolina Hurricanes) were plagued with injuries which led to a constantly revolving roster in Charlotte, but through it all Shugg proved to be a leader. Though he’s only 23 and just completed his fourth professional season, his tenacity and offensive potential will lead to a long and bright future for this #Shuggernaut. Also Receiving Votes Niedzielski - Chad LaRose: The fact that Chad LaRose was able to make an impact after taking a year off from professional hockey is impressive enough on its own, but even more impressive is the fact that he was able to step in and be the most consistent offensive force for the Checkers. He was effective in all areas of the game, producing at full strength, on the power play and shorthanded, and came through in the clutch, leading the team in game winners. Had he not been sidelined by an injury late in the year, he would have had a good chance of leading the team in goals and points, but regardless, he established himself as the catalyst for the entire Checkers’ offense. Branecky - Brock McGinn: He didn’t have the highest scoring totals on the team, but McGinn gets my vote for his consistency and ability to contribute in other ways. Had he buried even half of the excellent scoring chances he got throughout the season, he could have easily been the team’s scoring leader. If he gets better in that department (a 40-goal junior season and some flashes this season suggest that he will), his work ethic and tenacity, normally the hardest things for a rookie to learn, will help take him to the next level. Best Defenseman Unanimous Winner: Trevor Carrick Best Defenseman Fans (41.3 percent), as represented by Pete Hurdle: Trevor Carrick is without a doubt the Checkers' defenseman of the year for the 2014-2015 season. It seems like he is all over the ice during his shifts and the proof is in the numbers with a team-leading 25 assists. It is rare that a rookie plays every game of the season, and I felt like Carrick upped his performance as Hurricanes' call-ups put him in a crucial position for the Checkers. From the intermission videos he seems like he brings some humor and character to the team. His determination, grit and quickness on the ice he make him an exciting player to watch. Branecky: Sometimes you see it with older rookies from the college ranks who are a little more polished and mature (Danny Biega last season), but “true freshmen” from the junior ranks in their first season of pro eligibility aren’t supposed to have the kind of seasons that 20-year-old Trevor Carrick did. There was a little bit of a “rookie wall” roughly halfway through the season, but the Hurricanes might have gotten a steal by drafting him in the fourth round in 2012. He already impressed with his size, toughness and defensive ability early in the year. If his late-season offensive breakout (18 points in his last 21 games) was a sign of things to come – look out. Niedzielski: The Checkers’ defensive corps saw a huge amount of upheaval during this season, putting several players in roles that they normally wouldn’t have been in. Such was the case for rookie Trevor Carrick, who quickly found himself as one of the team’s top defensemen and didn’t look out of place. His physical presence was immediately on display as he never shied away from taking the body or stepping up for a fight, while the offensive flair he showed in junior followed soon after. What resulted was the most dominant season by a first-year defenseman in franchise history and some much-needed consistency on an ever-changing blue line. Lakso: During the first week of the season, an NHL scout pointed at Trevor Carrick and called him the best defenseman on the ice. I didn't see it then, but over the course of a season that saw Carrick set franchise rookie defenseman single-season records in goals (7), assists (25) and points (32), it became clear. Night in and night out, Carrick -- who played in all 76 regular-season games -- was the guy on a Checkers' blue line that was otherwise a revolving door. Rookie of the Year Winner: Brock McGinn Rookie of the Year Niedzielski: I easily could have given this to Carrick as well, but I think Brock McGinn earned himself some recognition after the year he had. When his offense was clicking, McGinn was one of the most dynamic players on the Checkers’ roster, as evidenced by his rookie-leading 15 goals. But what put McGinn’s rookie campaign over the top was how he was able to impact the game even when his offense wasn’t clicking. Through his physical play, McGinn was always affecting the game regardless of whether he was scoring, and that made him the most impressive rookie on the team. Lakso: Brock McGinn went 29 games without a goal and still managed to lead Checkers' rookies in goals (15) and rank third on the team overall. While Carrick was also deserving of this award, once McGinn started scoring he didn't stop. McGinn might have the highest offensive ceiling of anyone to lace up for Charlotte this season. Fans (49.2 percent), as represented by Stephen Schrapper: During what most of us would consider a difficult season, there were a few players that I looked forward to watching play nightly and one of them was certainly Brock McGinn. A young man who showed up in Charlotte and immediately became a fan favorite because of the way he plays the game – with pure effort. Brock’s work ethic and hockey sense make him easy to like, even when going through a stretch of time, where I think we could all agree, he was as “snake-bit” in the offensive zone as anyone. He never slowed down or appeared to get down on himself, rather he just kept working and persevered through it. I have enjoyed watching him mature this season and believe it will just be a matter of time before he is with the big club. The young man has the intangibles every team needs and the potential to be one of the best players to come through Charlotte. Also Receiving Votes Branecky - Trevor Carrick: A close race between Carrick and McGinn, but this goes to Carrick. It’s just harder for defensemen to contribute the way he did right away due to the increased pressure and the way their mistakes are more evident. The way he stepped up later in the season when Biega, Michal Jordan and Rasmus Rissanen were all in the NHL and Keegan Lowe was injured made you forget that he was a first-year player. Most Improved Winner: Keegan Lowe (tiebreak) Most Improved Lakso: Keegan Lowe went from a regular on the Checkers' healthy scratch list in 2013 to making his NHL debut in 2014. After a rookie season that saw its fair share of mistakes, Lowe returned to Charlotte with an edge that he carried with him on the the ice, as evidenced by his 106 penalty minutes (which ranked second on the team). Fans (26.6 percent), as represented by Vickie Boyd: Keegan Lowe has showed that he not just a fighter this season. He’s shown a lot of poise on the ice, picking his fights instead of dropping the gloves immediately. He’s also shown he has quite a snap shot and great passing skills. He’s grown as a player and a person. Also Receiving Votes Branecky - Dennis Robertson: Chad LaRose is a close runner up due to the way he shook off the expected early-season rust to more closely resemble the player Hurricanes fans know and love, but my vote goes to Robertson. The college rookie struggled to stay in the lineup for the season’s first half but took off once recalls and injuries thrust him back in. With the way he played very solid defensive minutes and chipped in some offense to boot, he showed the ability to be a much larger part of the defensive corps next season. Niedzielski - Dennis Robertson: Dennis Robertson’s rookie season began with him getting walked around for a goal and finding himself in and out of the lineup. It ended with him tied for second among team defensemen in scoring. I’d say that’s a pretty huge improvement. Like Carrick, Robertson found himself in a situation this season that he most likely wouldn’t have been in on any other team, but he adapted and grew into a strong, reliable blueliner for the Checkers. Unsung Hero Winner: Kyle Hagel Unsung Hero Niedzielski: Kyle Hagel arguably had the biggest impact out of any player on the Checkers this season. From being named the AHL’s Man of the Year for his work in the Charlotte community to being one of the most respected leaders on an extremely young team, Hagel was a huge influence off the ice, while on the ice he continued to be one of the most revered fighters in league, sparking his team and sticking up for his teammates throughout the season. On top of that, he brought a strong presence to the team’s fourth line with his relentless forechecking and pressure. Lakso: After winning the Man of the Year award for five different teams over the last five years for his contributions to the community, the American Hockey League finally recognized Kyle Hagel with its Man of the Year award in 2015. Hagel, however, did more than help out the children of Charlotte. He served at the Checkers' chief enforcer, wracking up 22 major penalties (fourth most in the AHL). He also took rookies Trevor Carrick and Brock McGinn under his wing and showed the two everything from how to train properly to what to buy when they head to the grocery store. Fans (42.1 percent), as representedy by Eric Feldman: Kyle Hagel is our vote for the Checkers' “unsung hero” award for 2014-15. Since joining the team, Kyle has brought a veteran level of competiveness, professionalism and community support. Kyle on numerous occasions displayed his willingness to “mix it up” with the other team to provide a needed spark for our team. In the same respect, Kyle also stands up for his teammates, promoting a sense of unity. His community efforts were immense. Opting to assist with any/all community and school visits shows his commitment to representing the Checkers and the sport in a favorable way. Also Receiving Votes Branecky - Danny Biega: I initially wanted to give this to Kyle Hagel, but I feel like people by now recognize the sacrifices to his personal safety that he made for the good of the team on a nightly basis, not to mention a deserving “A” on his sweater and the AHL’s Man of the Year award for community involvement that he rightfully earned late in the season. With that and the true spirit of the award in mind, I’ll turn your attention to Biega, whose contributions might have gone completely under the radar if not for his late-season recall to Carolina. Just a steady, all-around contributor from the moment he turned pro and a leader on defense. #author_infobox {display:none;}
    Read More +
  • Heading into the season, the ability to replace the scoring of a handful of departing stars was always the biggest question surrounding the 2014-15 Charlotte Checkers.
    Read More +
  • With the season over, we are looking to you, the fans, to help us hand out some end of the year awards!
    Read More +
  • With their season finished, the Checkers have assigned forward Alex Aleardi to the Florida Everblades, as they embark on the Kelly Cup playoffs.
    Read More +
  • In a season that ultimately didn’t produce enough victories, the Checkers saved a good one for last.
    Read More +
  • In the first half of their final series of the season, the Checkers came up just short against the Grand Rapids Griffins, 2-1.
    Read More +
  • After splitting their last two games on home ice with the IceHogs, the Checkers came up short in the series finale, falling 5-1 in Rockford.
    Read More +
  • The Checkers will be sporting some new faces in their lineup for this final road trip, as the team has signed Thomas Frazee to a professional tryout contract and Stephane Pattyn to an amateur tryout contract.
    Read More +
  • After earning a win in his professional debut Sunday afternoon, Rasmus Tirronen has been released from his ATO.
    Read More +
  • For their final road trip of the season, the Checkers have signed forward Mario Lamoureux to a professional tryout contract.
    Read More +
  • The Checkers ended the home portion of their schedule this weekend with a thrilling win over the surging Rockford IceHogs, but the season isn't over just yet.
    Read More +
  • The Checkers sent Time Warner Cable Arena out in style with a 4-3 win thanks to late heroics by Brock McGinn.
    Read More +
load more hold SHIFT key to load all load all