The Checkers are on a roll.
The team is currently in the midst of a 10-game point streak, the longest in franchise history and the longest active such streak in the AHL. They are 8-0-1-1 during that stretch, making them the hottest team in the league.
This streak couldn’t have come at a more critical time for Charlotte. After dropping a pair of lopsided contests to the Ontario Reign in the first weekend of December, the Checkers were sitting on the outside of the playoff picture with a .500 point percentage and the rest of the Central Division surging past them.
But that game marked their last regulation loss, as they have stormed their way back up the standings with this point streak. The strides they have taken as a team over the last month come from an array off sources across the board.
“We’re just executing the systems a little more,” said head coach Mark Morris. “We’re detail oriented and we’re getting timely scoring. It’s a combination of all of that.”
The Checkers’ sticks have come alive during the streak. Already a staple in the AHL’s top 10 goals per game rankings, Charlotte has turned it up over their last 10 games, averaging 3.4 goals per game. They have only scored less than three goals twice during the stretch, but still managed to earn points in both.
The timely scoring that Morris mentioned has come in handy in giving the Checkers’ a boost in tight games. They have spent most of the season battling in close contests (15 of their 32 games have been decided by one goal) and have excelled in them (They earned at least a point in 12 of those 15 games).
The two most recent wins on the Checkers’ resume are arguably the most complete and the most impressive. Nearly a month after getting shellacked in their own building, the Checkers went into Ontario and beat the Pacific Division-leading Reign on back-to-back nights to keep the streak alive.
With the Reign sitting at the top of the conference for most of the season thus far, the victory was a sweet one.
“I’m hoping that it’s a huge confidence boost for our group,” said Morris. “It shows that when we’re playing our game we have the ability to be right there with some of the better teams in the league.”
They will quickly get more chances to show that, as they head in to San Diego this weekend for the first time before returning home to play the red-hot Grand Rapids Griffins and the Chicago Wolves, the only team on their schedule they have yet to beat (other than the Gulls). How the Checkers proceed from the big wins in Ontario will be integral as they move on with the season.
“Now our big challenge is to build on the success we’ve had,” said Morris. “We’re going to try to manufacture that with more consistency.”
The Checkers still have plenty to work on as they continue through the season, but Morris hopes that seeing these wins pile up puts the work that the team has put in into perspective.
“Hopefully they’re having fun,” said Morris. “At times [the season] can be pretty demanding and you worry about that. But in order to take guys out of their comfort zones, there needs to be some prodding. Hopefully they understand that it’s for the good of the group. When we start doing things the right way, it becomes more fun because everyone knows that they’re playing for each other.”