During the season, Checkers broadcaster TJ Chillot checks in with a weekly blog highlighting everything Checkers hockey and beyond!
Back on the road, the Charlotte Checkers look to rebound from their recent stretch of games. I’m TJ Chillot, voice of the Charlotte Checkers, and we’re exactly one quarter of the way through the season. Let’s head back In the Trapezoid with TJ.

Time To Galvanize

Road trips can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered. The players get the chance to bond during the travel and down time, seeing new places can be rejuvenating and sometimes that’s all it takes. The Checkers have a pretty touch stretch, though, going through a three-in-three starting on Friday night in Rochester. After that first game the travel is extremely minimal with two games in Lehigh Valley and Hershey - which are a short drive away from one another. This is the perfect opportunity for Charlotte to shake off the recent flops at home and get stronger. Going into Friday night’s game at Rochester, the Checkers have a two-game win streak on the road. No better time to reload the confidence.

Balinskis, We Hardly Knew Ye

Uvis Balinskis was reassigned to the Charlotte Checkers on December 2nd, playing in his first (and only) Checkers game the following night on the 3rd. The veteran defenseman who is playing his first season in North America started the year with the Florida Panthers where he competed in 15 games with one goal and two assists for three total points. Balinskis was an immediate force on the ice for Charlotte, notching a goal on his first shot as a Checker and impressing with his puck movement. That must have been all the Florida Panthers brass needed to see as Balinskis was recalled to the Panthers earlier this week. One game, one goal, and a return to the NHL.

Surging Samoskevich

It’s been a big six-pack of games for Checkers rookie Mackie Samoskevich, who has three goals and two assists in that span. During the most recent series, he was one of the most noticeable guys on the ice in all facets of the game. I can think back to several instances where he was called on to get a goal, be a playmaker, and help out defensively. He’s been a bright spot for Charlotte in the first 25% of the season and personally, I can’t wait to see his continued development.

Shootouts? We Don't Do That Here

I know I just jinxed the whole thing, but either way I needed to bring it up. As a broadcaster, I love the shootout! It’s a chance to inject some excitement into a tight game and it becomes a poignant ending to most contests. Fun fact, the Checkers are one of ten teams in the AHL yet to play in a shootout. And get this - of those ten teams, FIVE of them are in the Atlantic Division (Bridgeport, Charlotte, Lehigh Valley, Springfield, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton).

Previewing The Three-In-Three

Let’s take a look at the upcoming weekend.
  • 12/8 at Rochester: The last time these teams met was back in October, a game in which the Checkers stormed out to a lead but ultimately saw that advantage evaporate and end in a defeat. Though the loss was tough, I’m encouraged because Charlotte looked like the better team in most of the contest, only allowing the Americans into the game because they took their foot off the gas. Having said that, Rochester has points in nine of their last 14. Charlotte is also 1-4-0-0 against North Division teams, so a perfect chance here to rebound.
  • 12/9 at Lehigh Valley: Get used to seeing the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Though this particular matchup on Saturday is the first of the year between the two teams, the two rivals will see each other five total times in December including a pair of games right before the holiday break at Bojangles Coliseum. Oh by the way, they’re currently separated by just two standings points and that could change based on the results of their respective games on Friday night, meaning anywhere from zero to four standings points will be between. And then they’ll duke it out for a second time in under a week on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
  • 12/10 at Hershey: We just saw them for a pair of games at the Boplex, so not much really to add other than the fact that now’s the chance to return serve and take a game from the Bears at their home facility.

Carlsson Check In

I feel like we talk about him every single week, so this time around I just want to update you on where Carlsson ranks in select categories in the AHL.
  • Game Winning Goals - 1st
  • Longest Point Streak This Season - Tied for 2nd
  • Points for Defensemen - 3rd
  • Goals for Defensemen - 1st
  • Shots for Defensemen - 1st