Week in Review
Last week's record3-1-0
Last 10 games7-3-0
Checkers 1, Iowa 0The Checkers’ showdown against the Iowa Wild kicked off with a tightly contested contest that saw Charlotte’s new goalie take center stage. Tom McCollum stood tall between the pipes, turning aside all 23 shots he was faced was to pick up his first shutout in a Checkers sweater. On the other side, Lucas Wallmark converted on a power-play opportunity midway through the second frame for what would prove to be the only offense of the game. The Checkers rode their defense for the remainder of regulation and came away with the 1-0 win. Full recap
Checkers 3, Iowa 2The next night’s rematch featured similarly low shot totals but much more offense. The Checkers erased Iowa’s opening goal with a pair of their own in the second, but saw their lead taken away midway through the third. With an even score moving into the waning moments of regulation, the Checkers got a boost from the increasingly clutch Connor Brickley, who found the back of the net with less than three minutes to play and lifted Charlotte to another win, leapfrogging the Wild for the final playoff spot in the process. Full recap
Checkers 3, Chicago 2 (SO)The Checkers followed up the Iowa series by welcoming the Central Division power Chicago Wolves to town for a pair of games. After surrendering the opening goal once again, the Checkers responded with a strike from Kris Newbury in the second and another from Bryan Bickell, his first with the team, early in the third to build a lead. That advantage wouldn’t survive, though, with the AHL’s leading goal scorer lighting the lamp with 90 seconds to play to force overtime. Charlotte came away with a huge penalty kill in the extra frame and escaped to a shootout, where Tom McCollum stepped up and turned aside two of the three shooters he faced. For the home team, Sergey Tolchinsky converted his attempt, setting up Newbury’s snipe to pick up the victory for the Checkers, their franchise-record seventh in a row. Full recap
Chicago 3, Checkers 1Facing a quick turnaround, Charlotte’s record-breaking win streak came to an end Sunday afternoon, with the Wolves besting the Checkers 3-1. Chicago picked up one goal in every period, with the Checkers only able to muster up one tally from the stick of Haydn Fleury on the power-play, his second in three games. That would be all the offense from the home side, however, as the Checkers couldn’t figure a way past Chicago’s impressive rookie netminder Ville Husso. Full recap
Three Stars Of The Week
Kris Newbury1g, 2a
Haydn Fleury2g, 1a
Tom McCollum3-1-0, 1.75 GAA, .936 SV%
MOVING ON UPWith seven wins in their last eight games, the Checkers have pushed their way into the Central Division playoff picture. The two-game sweep of Iowa during the week helped the Checkers leapfrog the Wild into fourth place, a spot they’ve continued to hold with the two-game split against Chicago.
The Checkers were in last place in the Western Conference as recently as Jan. 7, but have rattled off a stunning 20-8-2 record since then to climb back into contention.
As it stands now, Charlotte trails the Cleveland Monsters by one point, but having played one fewer game than the Monsters, the Checkers remain in fourth place in the division standings. The two clubs will face off for a pivotal two-game series this week, marking their final contests against each other this season. So far the Checkers have gotten the best of the Monsters this season, winning each of the last four matchups after dropping the first two.
GOING STREAKINGSpurring on the Checkers’ run to playoff contention was a franchise-best winning streak. Charlotte rattled off seven consecutive wins from March 9 to March 25, setting a new team record. The previous best was set in the 2012-13 campaign and was tied earlier this season when the Checkers won six straight in early November.
Charlotte’s seven-game winning streak is tied for the sixth-longest in the AHL this season.
POWERING BACK UPThe Checkers’ power play, still stuck at the bottom of the league rankings, has shown a spark of life as of late. The team has notched four power-play goals in the last six games, producing at a 20 percent rate. This run comes directly after a 10-game run that saw Charlotte go scoreless on 25 consecutive man advantages.
The Checkers, whose power-play percentage now sits at 11.1, are trying to avoid making the AHL record books for the wrong reason, as the lowest power-play percentage in league history is 10.36, set in 2001-02.
While Andrew Poturalski and Lucas Wallmark have garnered most of the attention this season, fellow rookie Haydn Fleury is somewhat quietly turning in an impressive first year. The 20-year-old has become one of the Checkers’ most consistent forces on the blue line, logging a team-best +13 rating, seven more than the next highest defenseman (Jake Chelios is +6 this year). Justin Krueger’s +16 for the 2011-12 season remains the best plus/minus overall, among defensemen and among rookies in franchise history.
- Hurricanes recall Wallmark Read More
Last Week's News
Aside from being a strong defensive stopper, Fleury has shown some of the offensive flair that made him the seventh overall selection in the 2014 draft. His five goals this season lead all team defensemen, while his three power-play goals are tied for second on the team overall. Fleury trails Jake Chelios by four points for the team lead among blue liners.
KRISTO KILLING ITEven after being sidelined by injury, Danny Kristo has found his offensive groove since joining the Checkers. The forward registered at least 40 points in each of his first three pro seasons, but had seen his numbers dip this year, marking two points in eight games with Chicago and 11 in 32 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before being dealt to Charlotte. With the Checkers, however, Kristo has again emerged as a legitimate scoring threat, picking up nine points in his first 11 games with the club, including five in his last five games.
THE VET STEPS UPKris Newbury added another milestone to his growing collection this past week, collecting his 600th pro point with a tally against the Wild on Wednesday. Additionally, the AHL legend has found an offensive resurgence with Charlotte this season. After marking five points in 14 games with Bakersfield earlier in the season, Newbury has picked up 14 in 34 games with the Checkers, including four in his last five games.
SHOOTOUT SUCCESSSaturday marked the third time this season that the Checkers have gone to a shootout and the third time that they emerged victorious. The team has used three different goalies in those games – Alex Nedeljkovic, Daniel Altshuller and most recently Tom McCollum – and have denied 12 of the 15 shooters they have faced. Two skaters for Charlotte has marked multiple shootout goals this season, with Sergey Tolchinsky converting on his two chances and Kris Newbury picking up the shootout winner in each of the last two instances.
Charlotte is one of five teams in the AHL to be undefeated in shootouts this season, with their 3-0 record standing with Tucson as the best in the league.
STINGY SCORESSince getting shelled for 12 goals in two games by the Bakersfield Condors earlier this month, the Checkers have tightened up defensively. Charlotte has allowed three or fewer goals in each of the last eight games while marking a 7-1-0 record in that time, and have allowed two or fewer in five of those eight contests.
Charlotte’s offense has hit a bit of a wall at the same time, however, recording three or fewer goals in each of the last five games, though they came away with wins in four of those. The Checkers have also failed to hit the 20-shot mark in two of their last four games.
- Michael Leighton ranks fifth in the AHL in goals-against average (2.17)
- Andrew Poturalski is tied for second among league rookies in scoring (48) and tied for third in assists (32)
- Lucas Wallmark ranks second among league rookies in goals (23), tied for 16th in the AHL overall, tied for sixth among rookies in points (42) and tied for second in shorthanded points (3)
- Kyle Hagel missed 21 games starting Feb. 3
- Michael Leighton missed 16 games starting Feb. 18
- Erik Karlsson missed six games starting Mar. 17
- March 27: (RW) Valentin Zykov assigned by Carolina (NHL)
- March 27: (C) Aleksi Saarela assigned by Carolina (NHL)
- March 26: (C) Patrick Brown assigned to Charlotte (AHL)
- March 21: (C) Hudson Elynuik signed to ATO
- March 27: (C) Mitchell Heard assigned to Florida (ECHL)
- March 26: (C) Lucas Wallmark recalled by Carolina (NHL)
- March 26: (C) Greger Hanson released from PTO
By the Numbers
|CATEGORY||RECORD||AHL RANK||LAST WEEK|
|Goals per game||2.68||18th||t-18th|
|Shots per game||30.43||11th||t-10th|
|Goals allowed per game||2.80||t-15th||17th|
|Shots allowed per game||29.15||t-10th||11th|
|Penalty minutes per game||10.57||3rd||3rd|
|Points||Andrew Poturalski (48), Lucas Wallmark (42), Valentin Zykov (30)|
|Goals||Lucas Wallmark (23), Andrew Poturalski (16), Valentin Zykov (15)|
|Assists||Andrew Poturalski (32), Jake Chelios, Andrew Miller (22)|
|Power play goals||Valentin Zykov, Andrew Poturalski (4)|
|Shorthanded goals||Lucas Wallmark (2)|
|Game-winning goals||Connor Brickley (6)|
|Shots on goal||Lucas Wallmark, Andrew Poturalski (134), Jake Chelios (133)|
|Penalty minutes||Connor Brickley (55), Mitchell Heard (53), Kyle Hagel, Kris Newbury (48)|
|Plus/minus||Haydn Fleury (+13), Lucas Wallmark (+11), Matt Tennyson (+7)|
|Wins||Michael Leighton (11)|
|Goals-against average||Tom McCollum (1.82)|
|Save percentage||Tom McCollum (.939)|