They return to their home ice this weekend for another set against a Pacific Division foe, welcoming the Stockton Heat to town.
Week in Review
Last week's record1-1-0
Last 10 games6-3-1
Tucson 3, Checkers 2Heading out West for the final time this season, the Checkers took on the Roadrunners just two weeks after sweeping them on home ice. Tucson built up a two-goal lead through 40 minutes of play thanks to a pair of tallies from heavyweight defenseman Kyle Wood, but the Checkers didn’t roll over. Valentin Zykov put the visitors on the board early on in the third, then Patrick Brown cleaned up a rebound to even the score midway through the frame. Both sides continued to battle for the go-ahead goal, but as regulation reached its final minute, the game appeared to be destined for overtime. The Roadrunners had one more strike up their sleeve, however, and Laurent Dauphin hammered home a back-door one timer with 21 seconds left to lift Tucson to a 3-2 victory. Full recap
Checkers 4, Tucson 2The Checkers flipped the script in the next night’s rematch, jumping out to a big lead thanks to a trio of first period goals courtesy of Patrick Dwyer, Patrick Brown and Connor Brickley. The ice tilted the other way in the second period, as the Roadrunners pumped in a pair of tallies to pull within one heading into the final frame. But the Checkers, backstopped by Michael Leighton, buckled down and held the home squad at bay, with Andrej Nestrasil finding the empty net to put the 4-2 contest away for good. Full recap
Three Stars Of The Week
Andrew Miller0g, 2a
Connor Brickley1g, 1a
Patrick Brown2g, 1a
ON THE CLIMBBoasting a 6-3-1 record over the last 10 games, the Checkers are continuing their effort to climb back into the playoff race. Saturday’s win, coupled with a loss by Manitoba, pushed the Checkers into the sixth spot in the Central Division, just two points behind the fifth-place Cleveland Monsters.
With last season’s crossover rule no longer in effect, the fourth spot in the division represents the final playoff slot for the Central. Iowa currently sits there, 10 points ahead of Charlotte, but have played two more games than the Checkers.
BREAKING THROUGH IN THE PACIFICSaturday’s victory over Tucson marked the first time this season that the Checkers have beaten a Pacific Division opponent on the road, going 0-10-1 up until that point. After sweeping them in Charlotte, the Roadrunners remain the only team from the division that the Checkers have defeated at all thus far, though they’ll have several chances to improve that record over the next few months, welcoming five Pacific Division opponents to town starting with this weekend against Stockton.
After a dominant January, Lucas Wallmark earned himself CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month honors last week. The Swede paces the team with 15 goals, a total that ties him for fifth overall among league rookies, and has pulled within three of Charlotte’s point lead.
- Lucas Wallmark Naemd CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month Read More
Last Week's News
The 21-year-old Wallmark is the first rookie in franchise history to earn the award and is just the second player to win any of the AHL’s monthly honors. The 21-year-old is one goal away from matching Victor Rask for the most in a single season by a Checkers rookie and eight behind the franchise record, set by Zac Dalpe in 2010-11.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOUPatrick Brown enjoyed his weekend in the desert, lighting the lamp in both tilts against Tucson to pick up goals in consecutive games for the second time in his career. The third-year pro continues his growth as an offensive threat, picking up his eighth goal and 16th point of the season Saturday against the Roadrunners.
Coming a long way from his two goal, 10 point rookie season, Brown has a shot at eclipsing his sophomore point total this year. He has played in every game so far this season, and if that continues he is on pace for 26 points in 76 games, narrowly besting his previous high of 25 points in 70 games last season.
POWER-PLAY BREAKTHROUGH?Charlotte’s power play remains buried at the bottom of the league rankings, but saw a flash of positivity in Saturday’s win. Patrick Dwyer’s first period power-play strike snapped an 0-for-23 drought on the man advantage for the Checkers, one that lasted seven straight games.
The next step for the Checkers turning their special teams around is gaining consistency.
They have not recorded power-play goals in consecutive games since Dec. 13 and 14, and only have two other power-play streaks on the season – a three-game run in late October and a two-game stretch in early November.
LEIGHTON THE LEGENDSaturday’s win over Tucson marked the 230th in Michael Leighton’s career, pushing him past Bobby Perreault and into sole possession of sixth place on the AHL’s all-time list. The 35-year-old Leighton, who represented the Checkers last week in his fifth AHL All-Star Game, now needs just three wins to overtake Frederic Cassivi and move into the top five.
- Kyle Hagel is tied for fifth in the league in major penalties (6)
- Michael Leighton ranks 11th in the AHL in goals-against average (2.34) and tied for 14th in save percentage (.916)
- Andrew Poturalski is tied for 11th among league rookies in scoring (29) and is tied for sixth in assists (20)
- Lucas Wallmark is tied for fifth among league rookies in goals (15) and tied for 17th in points (26)
- Brendan Woods missed 40 games starting Nov. 2
- Sergey Tolchinsky missed four games starting Jan. 27
- Alex Nedeljkovic missed four games starting Jan. 27
- Kyle Hagel missed two games starting Feb. 3
- Hockey Fights Cancer Night
- Valentine's Day Packs - get two tickets and a $20 merchandise certificate for just $35! More info
- Pink in the Rink presented by Novant Health - players to wear special pink jerseys
- Pink earmuffs for the first 3,000 fans courtesy of Novant Health
By the Numbers
|CATEGORY||RECORD||AHL RANK||LAST WEEK|
|Goals per game||2.46||29th||29th|
|Shots per game||30.43||10th||11th|
|Goals allowed per game||2.78||12th||13th|
|Shots allowed per game||28.78||t-8th||11th|
|Penalty minutes per game||11.50||6th||5th|
|Points||Andrew Poturalski (29), Lucas Wallmark (26), Valentin Zykov (21)|
|Goals||Lucas Wallmark (15), Valentin Zykov (11), Andrew Poturalski (9)|
|Assists||Andrew Poturalski (20), Jake Chelios (16), Sergey Tolchinsky (14)|
|Power play goals||Valentin Zykov (4), Five tied (2)|
|Shorthanded goals||Five tied (1)|
|Game-winning goals||Four tied (2)|
|Shots on goal||Phil Di Giuseppe (109), Lucas Wallmark, Andrew Poturalski (95)|
|Penalty minutes||Connor Brickley (51), Keegan Lowe, Mitchell Heard (49)|
|Plus/minus||Haydn Fleury (+9), Matt Tennyson (+7), Three tied (+4)|
|Wins||Michael Leighton (9)|
|Goals-against average||Michael Leighton (2.34)|
|Save percentage||Michael Leighton (.916)|