During the season, Checkers broadcaster TJ Chillot checks in with a weekly blog highlighting everything Checkers hockey.
The Checkers wrapped up a four-game stretch over the course of six days, with the Thanksgiving holiday wedged in the middle, and earned five out of a possible eight points against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Utica. As we wrap up the month of November and look forward to our first December games, I wanted to put some thoughts to paper on last week’s very busy schedule.

Offense From The Defense

In the four games, the Checkers got some great production out of their blue liners and it’s something I don’t want to overlook. Sure, it’s easy to look at Michael Del Zotto and his current five-game point streak, but other d-men were involved and it showed in the Checkers’ play on the ice. Del Zotto, Dennis Cesana, Matt Kiersted, Anthony Bitetto, Santtu Kinnunen, and Lucas Carlsson all registered at least a point in the four-game stretch, and in total the Checkers registered 12 points from their defensemen.

Dynamic Duo

At the beginning of the season, the goaltender position was an unknown entity. With the entire position being filled with new faces, it was hard to predict what we’d see after two months of play. Right now, I’m really liking what I’m seeing from both Alex Lyon and Mack Guzda. Though neither of their stats are off the charts, there is so much more that goes into the goaltending position that these two do so well. For the veteran Lyon, he has come up huge in big situations for the Checkers this year and situationally has always left his team in a position to win the game. On Monday night, he clamped down on the Penguins forwards once the game was tied 4-4, and even blanked the Pens in the shootout to help earn the W for Charlotte. As for Guzda, he’s allowed two goals or fewer in four of his eight games this year. Heck, he allowed five goals in a game at Hartford earlier this month and even that turned out to be a Checkers win because of his perfection in the shootout that night.

The Good Streaks

I briefly mentioned it above, but Del Zotto has nicely found himself on a five-game point streak thanks to his strong offensive play. It sure is something, especially when you’re talking about a player who’s in his 18th professional season. Del Zotto isn’t the only Checker with a streak, however. Both Justin Sourdif and Zac Dalpe have goals in back-to-back games, looking to stretch their streak to three straight this coming weekend. For Dalpe, we’ve seen this a number of times over his career and it’s the third time this season he’s had goals in back-to-back games. Sourdif on the other hand is an up-and-coming forward for this Checkers team who is starting to come out of his shell. Not only did he win the game in overtime against the Comets on Friday night, but also kicked things off Saturday night to send the bears flying for Teddy Bear Toss. This two-game point streak for Sourdif is his second point streak of the year, following his four-straight games with an assist back at the end of October.

The Bad Streaks

The Checkers have to stop allowing goals to be scored in bunches against them - particularly in a short time frame. On Wednesday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins netted three goals in just two minutes and 43 seconds. Then on Friday versus Utica, the Comets managed to rip off back-to-back goals in 2:41. I know it’s easier said than done, and it’s not like the Checkers want this kind of thing to happen, but these runs on goals in quick succession have really put Charlotte in a tough position. On Friday, it allowed the Penguins to take control of the game and build a lead that the Checkers just couldn’t surmount. In the case of the Comets, their two goals that leveled the score in the third period were ultimately the reason why the two teams went into overtime. Just have to clean that up and not allow teams any hope of taking a bigger lead or coming back in a game.

Thank You Teddy Bear Tossers

With an announced attendance of just over 6,500, the Checkers announced approximately 4,100 teddy bears were collected following Sourdif’s goal on Saturday night and I just have to say, WOW! That’s more than a half-teddy-bear-per-fan average and it’s always amazing to see the generosity of the Charlotte community. The bears are in the process of being donated to local children throughout the Queen City and we know that we couldn’t do it without you! So thank you Teddy Bear Tossers!

Thank You Staff

On a personal level, I absolutely adore Teddy Bear Toss. I had brought five bears myself to the game and was excited to see my girlfriend toss them over the glass while I looked on from the booth. Professionally, as a broadcaster, Teddy Bear Toss games can be a bit of an anomaly. You never know how long the clean-up will take, how much air-time you’ll have to fill talking about whatever comes to mind as the bears get scooped up into bins, or if you should cut to a commercial break if you can swing it. It’s always so variable and almost like trying to hit a moving target. This season, however, was the fastest cleanup I’ve ever seen in a Teddy Bear Toss with one of the highest totals I’ve ever personally been a part of. So I have to give a huge thank you to the Charlotte Checkers front office staff, Bojangles Coliseum staff, the RedLee/SCS Ice Crew, Checkers players, referees, and all those who helped collect the donations to clear the ice surface. I was so happy to hear we received such a large number of bears and yet how fast we were ready to resume action was incredible.