Despite some tough scheduling and an unprecedented level of roster turnover caused by the NHL’s return, the Checkers won all three of their games last week, extending their overall winning streak to five games.
Thanks to that win streak, which ties the longest in the team’s three-season AHL history, the Checkers held on to the South Division’s top spot despite a six-game win streak from the second-place Texas Stars. They did so despite missing as many as 11 players that were available to them as recently as last month due to a rash of injuries and a number of top players that headed to Carolina Hurricanes training camp, with three more heading to Raleigh on Monday.
With a stretch of nine consecutive games away from Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena now behind them, the Checkers begin a three-game home stand this week with back-to-back games against Grand Rapids on Wednesday and Thursday and a match-up with Norfolk on Sunday afternoon.
Week in Review
Last week's record
Last 10 games
Checkers 7, OKC 0
In their last game before a number of players left to join Carolina’s training camp, the Checkers tied a franchise record for largest victory margin with a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma City on Friday. Tim Wallace led the way by tying a franchise record with four points (1g, 3a), Justin Peters made 24 saves to record his second consecutive shutout and seven different players scored goals for Charlotte, which won its third game in a row. Full recap
Checkers 4, OKC 3 (OT)
The Checkers erased a 3-1 second-period deficit with goals by Brett Sutter and A.J. Jenks, the second of which came with only 2:44 remaining in regulation, and Chris Terry scored the overtime winner in a 4-3 win in Saturday’s rematch with the Barons in Oklahoma City. Riley Nash also scored for the Checkers, while Justin Peters made 29 saves to record his third consecutive victory. Charlotte was missing six players who had left for NHL training camp, with four ECHL recalls making their season debuts in the AHL. Full recap
Checkers 2, Houston 1 (OT)
The Checkers won in overtime for the second consecutive night, this time courtesy of Riley Nash, to tie a franchise record with their fifth consecutive victory in a 2-1 win over Houston on Sunday. Zac Dalpe opened the scoring and John Muse made 24 saves in his AHL season debut for Charlotte, which arrived in Houston at 5 a.m. following a seven-hour bus ride from Oklahoma City. With the win, the Checkers won on three consecutive nights for the third time in 22 all-time attempts, all three of which occurred this season. Full recap
A busy weekend started with six Checkers players joining Carolina Hurricanes training camp in Raleigh. Read more
The Checkers' current five-game win streak dating back to Jan. 4 ties a franchise record set from Nov. 20-30, 2011 and is the second-longest active streak in the AHL. Additionally, an overtime loss that precedes it gives the team an active six-game point streak that is one shy of tying a franchise record set on two previous occasions, including one stretch from Dec. 11-21 of this season. It is tied with division rival Texas for the longest active point streak in the AHL and marks the third six-game point streak the Checkers have posted in 39 games this season.
The Checkers, who have also set a team record with five consecutive losses this season, have not lost in regulation since Dec. 30, making them 5-0-1 to start the calendar year of 2013.
Welcome to the Club
Due to a combination of injuries and recalls to NHL training camp in Carolina, a total of six players - Forwards Matt Beca, Matthew Pistilli, David Rutherford and Leigh Salters, defenseman Beau Schmitz and goaltender John Muse - made their AHL season debuts with Charlotte in a three-day span last week. Two of those players, Rutherford and Schmitz, played their first-ever AHL games and earned their first professional points with assists on Saturday, while Salters played his first-ever game with the Checkers, also on Saturday. Center Luke Pither, who was acquired by the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, is expected to join that list the coming days.
For Sunday's game against Houston, the Checkers had 10 players on their roster who started the season in the ECHL. In addition to the players listed above, that list includes forward Justin Shugg and defensemen Tommi Kivisto and Bobby Raymond, who were already with the team prior to last week.
Dalpe Piling on Points
Checkers forward Zac Dalpe has nine points (5g, 4a) in his last five games, marking the most productive five-game stretch of any Charlotte skater this season. Prior to scoring one goal against Houston on Sunday, he began the streak by posting multiple points in four consecutive games, the only time a Checkers has accomplished that feat over the course of the current campaign. During his streak, he has risen to second place in team scoring with 28 points (13g, 15a) in 38games played, four points behind Zach Boychuk.
Dalpe is also among the team's leaders in a handful of less-heralded categories. His six penalty minutes are the fewest of any skater with more than 13 games played, while his +14 plus/minus rating and 124 shots on goal both lead the team. He currently ranks fifth in the AHL in shots.
Third Time's a Charm
Including wins in Oklahoma City and Houston over the weekend, the Checkers have won three games in three nights three times this season. Those are the only three-in-three sets they've ever swept in three seasons as an AHL franchise (22 total attempts). They have played five sets of three games in three nights this season, including one set from Dec. 28-30 that marked the fewest points earned in team history (0-2-1).
The Checkers are now 13-3-2 in games that are part of a three-in-three set this season, including a 5-0-1 mark in Game One, a 4-1-1 record in Game Two and a 4-2-0 showing in Game Three. The Checkers will play two additional three-in-three sets later in the season.
On Saturday in Oklahoma City and on Sunday in Houston, the Checkers won back-to-back games during the five-minute, four-on-four overtime period for the first time in team history. During the team's inaugural season in 2010-11, it had won consecutive games that went beyond regulation on two separate occasions, but needed the shootout to accomplish one or both.
The Checkers are now 5-5 in overtime games this season, including a 3-2 in mark in games decided during the initial overtie period and a 2-3 record in shootouts. Only four AHL teams have played more overtime games than the Checkers' 10 this season.
Puck Stops with Peters
Justin Peters' 144-minute shutout streak came to an end in Oklahoma City on Saturday, with the Barons' Mark Arcobello scoring 43 seconds into the second period. Peters had previously not allowed a goal since the third period of a loss in San Antonio on Dec. 30, having picked up two consecutive shutouts along the way.
Dating back to Dec. 11, Peters is 7-2-1 with a 1.48 goals-against average and .941 save percentage and three shutouts in his last 10 games. For the season, he ranks 12th in the AHL in goals-against average (2.35), is tied for 18th in save percentage (.915) and is tied for second with two shutouts (4). His four shutouts tie a personal single-season high and are the most ever by a Checkers goalie in a single season.
Despite losing seven players to the Carolina Hurricanes in the last week, the Checkers still have 185 games of NHL experience on their current roster. Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani leads that group with 73 games played with Buffalo and Vancouver, followed by Jerome Samson (45), Brett Sutter (34), Zac Dalpe (31), Justin Peters (28) and Riley Nash (five). Every player on that list played at least five NHL games as recently as last season.
In the Driver's Seat
The Checkers have began each day holding the top spot in the South Division since winning at Rockford on Oct. 20, a span of 84 days. Charlotte, which currently leads the second-place Texas Stars by two points, is 9-4-3 in divisional play this season, having played the fewest inter-divisional games of any South team to this point. Charlotte and Texas are currently among the hottest teams in the AHL, having each earned points in six consecutive games heading into this week.
Zac Dalpe has goals and points in each of his last five games (Jan. 4-13; 5g, 4a)
Riley Nash has points in each of his last three games (Jan. 11-13; 2g, 1a)
Justin Peters has won each of his last three starts (Jan. 4-12)
Marc-Andre Gragnani has points in each of his last three games (Dec. 14-16; 1g, 2a)
Jerome Samson has points in each of his last two games (Jan. 4-6; 1g, 1a)
Justin Shugg has assists and points in each of his last two games (Jan. 12-13; 0g, 2a)
Jerome Samson (upper body, Jan. 6) - missed three games
Nicolas Blanchard (upper body, Jan. 3) - missed five games
Rasmus Rissanen (upper body, Dec. 28) - missed eight games
Marc-Andre Gragnani (lower body, Dec. 16) - missed 11 games
Jan. 13 - (C) Luke Pither acquired by Carolina (NHL) from Wheeling (ECHL)
Jan. 12 - (G) John Muse recalled to Charlotte from Florida (ECHL)
Jan. 12 - (D) Beau Schmitz recalled to Charlotte from Florida (ECHL)
Jan. 12 - (RW) Matt Beca recalled to Charlotte from South Carolina (ECHL)
Jan. 12 - (RW) Matthew Pistilli signed professional tryout contract
Jan. 12 - (LW) Leigh Salters signed professional tryout contract
Jan. 11 - (F) David Rutherford recalled to Charlotte from Florida (ECHL)
Jan. 10 - (C) A.J. Jenks recalled to Charlotte from Florida (ECHL)
Jan. 14 - (F) Zac Dalpe recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 14 - (C) Riley Nash recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 14 - (F) Brett Sutter recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 14 - (RW) Matt Beca reassigned to South Carolina (ECHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 12 - (G) Dan Ellis recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 12 - (D) Justin Faulk recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 12 - (D) Bobby Sanguinetti recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 12 - (LW) Drayson Bowman recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 12 - (F) Zach Boychuk recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 12 - (RW) Tim Wallace recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Jan. 12 - (C) Jeremy Welsh recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
Wednesday, January 16 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Grand Rapids
Player wall cling giveaway (Justin Faulk and Justin Peters) courtesy of WBT
Movie Night collection to benefit Presbyterian Hemby Childen's Hospital - bring in any new, current movie or Xbox 360 video game suitable for kids and receive a complimentary ticket to the Feb. 10 game
Coke Family 4-Packs - includes 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 Cokes for $65. Ticketmaster and box office fees will apply
Blood Drive - Donate blood to the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas from 2-5 p.m. and receive a complimentary ticket to that night's game and a team-autographed t-shirt
By the Numbers
Goals per game
Shots per game
Goals allowed per game
Shots allowed per game
Penalty minutes per game
Zach Boychuk (32), Zac Dalpe (28), Justin Faulk, Chris Terry (24)