During the season, Checkers broadcaster TJ Chillot checks in with a weekly blog highlighting everything Checkers hockey.
Well it was a great homestand for the Checkers, who ripped off wins against the Utica Comets and Lehigh Valley Phantoms over the past couple weekends. With their record well over .500, the team has embarked on a little tour of Pennsylvania with matchups against Hershey and Lehigh Valley (again).

With one of those games completed - a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Bears on Tuesday night - here are my thoughts of the past handful of games and a preview of what’s to come.

Shorthanded Superpower

It’s always nice when a team that’s down a man gets offensive. The Checkers have scored shorthanded goals in three-consecutive games and with their four total, are tied for third in the AHL in that category. Riley Nash, Anthony Bittetto, and Connor Bunnaman all notched shorthanded goals over the three-game span - for Nash, it was his team-leading second of the season.

Double Edged Sword

The downside to that offensive aggressiveness while shorthanded? It leaves your PK unit susceptible to surrendering chances and goals on the other side. Charlotte’s PK got on track against Hershey Tuesday night, but Lehigh Valley had their way with the Checkers last weekend. In total, the Checkers surrendered five power-play goals to the Phantoms in seven opportunities before righting the ship against Hershey and going 3-for-3 on the kill. Currently, the Checkers’ PK ranks 6th in the division, a far cry from where they sat at the start of the month.

Florida Four

Shortly after the series with Lehigh Valley, the Florida Panthers recalled Zac Dalpe, Chris Tierney, and Matt Kiersted. The trio joined Aleksi Heponiemi, who was recalled a week prior, to fill holes on the NHL’s squad. While the Checkers battled the Bears on Tuesday, the Panthers jostled with the Jets. Zac Dalpe registered his 15th goal in the NHL over his career, and who would get the assists on that tally? Chris Tierney and Matt Kiersted. As a Checkers fan, how can you not love stories like that?

The Other Florida Guys

With the slew of callups to the NHL, that means the Checkers had some roster gaps to fill and have relied on their ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades. Three players have made the jump from the Everblades to the Checkers recently including Robert Calisti, Xavier Cormier, and Dominic Franco. Both Franco and Cormier competed in the Checkers game against Hershey on Tuesday. Though they didn’t register any points, they were both noticeable on the ice in their first callup this season. For Franco, the AHL is not unfamiliar territory as he has 56 total games under his belt at this level - the previous 55 coming as a member of the Rochester Americans. For Cormier, the game on Tuesday was his AHL debut.

Nash Money

Riley Nash has proven to be one of the best off-season additions for this Charlotte Checkers team. With almost a point-per-game pace through the first third of the season, Nash leads the Checkers in points (21), assists (14), shorthanded goals (2), plus/minus (+8), and power-play points (6). His two-point effort on Tuesday against the Bears was his seventh game this season with at least two points, something he’s done back-to-back twice now on the year. If he continues at this pace, Nash will be looking at 69 total points by regular-season’s end, absolutely blowing his previous AHL-high of 37 out of the water. For comparison’s sake, that’s one point shy of Andrew Poturalski’s number in 2018-19 when he finished fourth in the league with 70 points.

Extra Hockey for All!

No one has played in more overtime/shootout games than the Checkers so far this season. Their nine total contests to go beyond the third period doubles the league average of 4.5 games. The good news is that the Checkers win percentage of 0.667 in OT/SO is the eighth-best in the league, and for those teams ahead of Charlotte in that regard, no one has played more than five games in overtime.

Training at Truist

The Checkers are hosting an outdoor practice on Monday, December 12 at Truist Field. Open to the public, with no admission cost, the Checkers will skate for about 30 minutes while showing off the Uptown outdoor rink. Doors open when the Checkers hit the ice at 10am on Monday morning.

Happy Checker-days!

The Checkers still have four home games at Bojangles Coliseum during the month of December. First up, a two-game set with the Rochester Americans on December 16 and 17, followed by a inter-division battle with Providence on December 22 and 23. With Holiday Shirt Packages available now, fans can get a holiday shirt and a ticket to either game on the 16th or 17th for only $35! If that doesn’t move the needle, check out our Holiday Packs! For only $109 fans can get two tickets to four different games, that’s a total of eight tickets! Plus, fans who purchase before December 17 will get two tickets to a fifth game absolutely free. We’re in the giving spirit for the holidays and hope to see you at the Coliseum!