CHARLOTTE, NC—Charlotte Checkers head coach and general manager Derek Wilkinson announced that the following players have been assigned to the team: goaltender Miika Wiikman and defenseman Trevor Glass from the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolfpack, forward Ryan Hillier from the New York Rangers and goaltender Billy Sauer from the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters.
Wiikman, 24, returns to the Checkers after spending most of last season with the Hartford Wolfpack. He led the Wolfpack in games played (43), saves (1,043) and tied for the lead in shutouts with two. Wiikman also suited up in four games with the Checkers, posting a 1-1-2 record with a 2.36 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
Prior to coming to North America, the 5-foot-11 goaltender from Mariestad, Sweden helped HPK Hameenlinna capture the 2006 Finnish Elite League Championship. That season he won the Jari Kurri trophy, given to the league’s most valuable player in the playoffs. Past winners of the award include National Hockey League stars Saku Koivu, Miikka Kiprusoff and Kari Lehtonen.
Glass, a rookie out of Cochrane, Alberta, played the last five seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers and Spokane Chiefs. In 2007-08, the 6-foot, 187-pound defenseman helped the Chiefs capture the WHL Championship and Memorial Cup. In 247 career WHL games, he netted 21 goals and added 61 assists. Glass also reached the 2007 Memorial Cup Finals with Medicine Hat after winning the WHL Championship that season.
Hillier, 21, returns to Charlotte for his second season with the Checkers. In 66 games last season, the rookie from Halifax, Nova Scotia tallied 10 goals and 16 assists. His 26 points tied him for second in Checkers rookie scoring.
Before turning pro, Hillier played four seasons for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 2007-08, the 6-foot, 200-pound winger led Halifax in goals (34), power-play goals (13) and short-handed goals (5). He notched 86 goals and 104 assists in 229 career QMJHL games. Hillier was a third-round selection of the New York Rangers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Sauer, a rookie from Rochester, N.Y., comes to the Checkers after a four-year college career at the University of Michigan. In 2007-08, he posted a 30-4-3 record, leading the nation in wins and helping the Wolverines reach the NCAA Frozen Four. He set single-season school records for goals-against average (1.95) and save percentage (.924) and was named to the NCAA East Regional All-Tournament team.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound netminder posted a 71-30-8 record with a 2.56 GAA and .908 over 114 NCAA contests. He was a seventh-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
The Checkers’ preseason roster now stands at 32 players.
The Checkers’ schedule is now available and they are getting ready for their 17th season of play as a member of the ECHL and 16th as an affiliate of the New York Rangers. In the team’s 16-year history, the Checkers have made the playoffs 12 times including five consecutive playoff appearances to date. Season tickets are on sale now. For season ticket information, please call 704-342-4-ICE or visit www.gocheckers.com.