During the season, Checkers broadcaster TJ Chillot checks in with a weekly blog highlighting everything Checkers hockey.
Another two home games, another two FANTASTIC crowds at the Boplex, and another two big wins for the Charlotte Checkers. Hey y’all, it’s TJ and I’m back for another installment of In The Trapezoid with TJ. Here’s some of my thoughts from this past weekend’s games!

Finding Ways to Win

Through four games this season, the Checkers have found themselves in several different situations in terms of how the game played out. In the first game of the season, as well as the most recent contest, the games were tight with neither team taking more than a one-goal advantage. In game two against Hartford, it was a dominant performance by the Checkers from the get-go and they never let up. On Friday, the Checkers were manhandled through the first 40-ish minutes of the game before mounting a comeback in the third. Why am I pointing this out? Simply put, this is a team that finds ways to win. They know how to play close games, they know how to take control, and they know how to battle out of a hole. That’s identity.

Cap Is Back

It didn’t take long for Checkers Captain and fan favorite Zac Dalpe to make an impact once returning to the lineup. After missing the first two games of the season, Dalpe started his season with a two-goal effort Friday against Hershey. His first goal of the year evened the score at 3-3 in the third and he added an empty netter later that period. What we thought was just a simple, “icing on the cake”, empty-net goal ended up being the game-winning goal after Hershey tacked on a last-second goal to bring the final score to 5-4. On Saturday, Dalpe picked up a pair of assists and brought his season point total to four (2g, 2a).

All Things (Good and Bad!) Must Come To An End

Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win marked the end of a few streaks, some good and some not-so-good. Entering the game, Riley Nash and Anton Levtchi were riding three-game point streaks after appearing all over the scoresheet throughout the first three games. Unfortunately for Nash and Levtchi, their streaks were halted after they both came up empty on Saturday. Something tells me that they’re totally fine trading a scoring streak for a win. On a positive note, Logan Hutsko ended his goal scoring drought with a HUGE game that very night. It was great to see Hutsko register a pair of tallies to get that monkey off his back. Coming into Saturday’s game, Hutsko hadn’t scored a goal in 27 games, including last year’s postseason. Hutsko also added an assist on the game-winner in overtime completing his three-point night. So long monkey!

Everyone is Lethal

While Levtchi, Nash, and Aleksi Heponiemi were the big offensive names coming out of the Hartford series, it was great to see different names get on the board for Charlotte against Hershey. Sure, Nash and Levtchi each got another goal of their own, but Gerry Mayhew, Dalpe, Hutsko, and Chris Tierney also found the back of the net. It’s an early sign of this team’s balance across the board. Through four games, 16 different Checkers have registered at least a point with nine different players scoring goals.

Powerballllllllll Power Play!

It’s still very early, but the power play is clicking! After the first series, it was hard to say if it was a good power play unit that converted against a poor Hartford PK unit (or maybe a little of both). Seeing the Checkers get a few in their series against Hershey is certainly encouraging. Of the Checkers’ 16 goals this season, five have been on the power play. Their conversion rate of 33.3% is good enough to rank them second in the league as of Monday. Again, it’s early, but it’s still encouraging.

Spooky Season

Can we talk about the costumes at Bojangles this past Friday as part of Haunted Night? You guys BROUGHT IT! I have the unique advantage of being perched in my crow’s nest and I can see everything. I saw a little bumble bee, a goalie, some ghastly ghouls, and even a princess or two. I got the chance to walk around the concourse, too, and saw even more great looks. We have the best fans in the league, hands down. Y’all totally understood the assignment and it’s A+‘s all around in my book. Sidebar shoutout to the Checkers creative department and the AWESOME in-game elements and spiderweb decor!

A New Test Awaits

It’s nice being 4-0 to start the season and as hard as that is, it was made just a bit easier because all four games came at home. For the first time this season, the Checkers hit the road and will look to earn wins on opposing ice. What’s more, it’s not just a simple flight up, play two games, then come home. The Checkers will be in three different cities, in two different states, in five days. They’ll take on Providence in Rhode Island on Friday, head to Connecticut on Saturday for the third battle of the year against Hartford, and then battle with Bridgeport on Tuesday for the final game of the short roadie. That game against Bridgeport is an education game which drops the puck at 11am. Those are always tricky when you’re the visiting team.

Copying The Champs?

The last time the Checkers went 4-0 to start the season was 2018-19, when they ripped off five consecutive wins. They downed Rochester twice, Utica, Syracuse, and Hershey. We all know how that season ended up, don’t we?

Overtime is fun this year!

We are four games in and two games have ended with the Checkers winning in the extra frame. Think you can guess how many wins the Checkers had last season in overtime, not counting shootouts? That’s right, two. They have as many OTW’s this season, through four games, as they had all last year. Interestingly enough, both of those wins in OT last year were on the road. This year’s team made sure to reward the home fans and win some games 3-on-3 at home.

Up Next: Crunch Time

After the road trip to New England, the Checkers are back at home on November 4th and 5th against a very potent Syracuse Crunch team. At the time of writing, though their record is 1-1-2, Syracuse boasts the league’s best scorer in Felix Robert (nine points in four games). It’ll be a physical game, as we’ve come to expect from a Benoit Groulx-led team, and certainly a challenge for the Checkers they’ll look to handle successfully. We’ve got a great deal of promos going on for those games, too! On Friday, November 4th it’s National Jersey Day presented by Skyline Veterinary Specialists. We’re also continuing our school supply drive presented by First National Bank where fans can receive a free ticket to our game on December 2nd with a donation of 10 school supplies. Then on Saturday, it’s Mountains Night presented by World Travel Mates! Head to charlottecheckers.com to find ticket packages where you can get a Checkers bucket hat plus admission to the game for only $33!

It’s going to be a fantastic weekend at the Boplex, so get your tickets today! Looking forward to chatting next week with another In the Trapezoid with TJ! Like the article? Think I’m way off base? Let me know! Follow me on Twitter or send me an email. Let’s keep the chat going!