The 2017-18 campaign continues to draw closer, and with the conclusion of Thursday’s practice the Checkers’ focus now shifts to their preseason slate.

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The team packed up this afternoon and is headed to Pennsylvania for a pair of preseason tilts against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday and Saturday. Charlotte has spent the entirety of the past week on the Bojangles’ Coliseum ice for training camp, so the impending game action will offer up the chance to put what they’ve learned to the test.

“We worked on our system all week,” said head coach Mike Vellucci. “Now we want to make sure we’re in a good position all over the ice.”

With several new faces in the fold – the group heading to Lehigh Valley is comprised of most of the players participating in the first week of camp – the preseason action also lets the team pick up some game action that can carry over into next week’s second half of training camp.

“It’s a young team so after this weekend we can make sure we look at video after and teach,” said Vellucci. “We can do a lot more teaching with these two games than we can with practice. We’ll be able to see them in a game environment and get video.”

The final scores of the weekend’s preseason contests aren’t much of a priority in the grand scope of things. Instead the focus is on individual performances, with the coaches’ attention being divided among bubble players fighting for a roster spot and the core skaters ramping up for the regular season.

“We’re going to try to look at everybody,” said Vellucci. “Make sure the guys that are under contract get a good opportunity to show me what they have. And then some of the guys that are on American League deals, we want to make sure they get that opportunity too. We’re going to try to split it as much as we possibly can.”

One aspect the staff will be zoning in on over the weekend is the power play, which was the focus of Thursday’s practice and has Vellucci excited for the future.

“Both units were good,” he said. “We had [Brenden] Kichton on the point and he has a really good shot. Even [Nick] Schilkey had a couple of good shots today, he’s a really good hockey player. Brownie [Patrick Brown] played in front of the net, I know he played that in college and has done it a lot here in the American League. There’s some good pieces there and then obviously with the guys that we get back from Carolina whenever they come back there will be some guys who will be big pieces on the power play.”

This marks the second consecutive season that the Checkers have visited the Phantoms for preseason games, though Charlotte’s move to the Eastern Conference means this is a precursor for several meetings during the regular season. Regardless, the hope is that the trip will set the Checkers up for success going forward.

“It’s good to get on the road,” said Vellucci. “The guys get together and get familiar with each other. It’s good to get some games in and get used to how we want to play.”