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The Road To Raleigh: Post Holiday Success- Checkers Take Three out of Four


(Jerome Samson, via Gregg Forwerck)

After a holiday hiatus for the Charlotte Checkers and The Road To Raleigh, it is now back to business for the post holiday edition of the Checkers season.

While it has been great to see the call-ups of Zac Dalpe and Zach Boychuk, that unfortunately spelled a big loss of offensive firepower for the Checkers. Would fellow proven scorer Jerome Samson be able to carry the load? With Jon Matsumoto reassigned, the Charlotte first line of Bowman, Matsumoto, and Samson would need to score to keep the Checkers hot. Without Brett Carson in the lineup, would the Checkers defense hold up in front of Pogge and Murphy? Find out after the jump.

Following a full week off, the Checkers went back to the grind with two games against divisional rival Norfolk. The two games in the Admiral's building were followed up with two matches against the Binghamton Senators in Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday and Sunday to close out the week.

High scoring forward Zach Boychuk was not in the lineup for any of the four games this week for the Checkers. Zac Dalpe played in both games against Norfolk registering 3 assists before being called up to the Hurricanes where he would score his first career NHL goal against the Devils. Like Boychuk and Dalpe, Carson found himself in the lineup for both games against Norfolk before being called up to the Hurricanes in time to meet the Devils.

Results: Attendance:

Tues. Dec. 28th @ Norfolk W SO 3-2 3,612

Thurs. Dec. 30th @ Norfolk W OT 4-3 5,055

Sat. Jan. 1st vs. Binghamton L 0-3 9,868

Sun. Jan. 2nd vs. Binghamton W 4-2 5,338

East Division Standings (As of Jan. 2nd, 2011 @ 7:19 P.M.):

1 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 34 26 8 0 0 52 0.765 111 79 1-0-0-0 6-4-0-0 698
2 Norfolk Admirals 34 18 8 6 2 44 0.647 130 102 0-2-1-1 4-2-3-1 821
3 Charlotte Checkers 35 20 11 1 3 44 0.629 120 103 1-0-0-0 7-2-0-1 595
4 Hershey Bears 34 20 13 0 1 41 0.603 119 85 0-1-0-0 6-4-0-0 647
5 Binghamton Senators 36 16 16 2 2 36 0.500 115 106 0-1-0-0 5-4-0-1 635
6 Syracuse Crunch 36 14 18 1 3 32 0.444 90 119 3-0-0-0 5-5-0-0 677
7 Albany Devils 34 13 19 0 2 28 0.412 88 120 0-2-0-0 2-6-0-2 741
8 Adirondack Phantoms 36 9 25 2 0 20 0.278 79 134 2-0-0-0 5-5-0-0 696

As this piece is being entered, Norfolk trails Hershey 2-0 in the third period. A loss by the Admirals would even things with the Checkers at 44 points with the same ammount of games played, forcing a tie for second place. Wilkes Barre/Scranton, Norfolk, Charlotte, and Hershey are beginning to distance themselves from the pack. Bighamton and Syracuse have ground to gain and have one more game played than the top four teams. Adirondack? Well.. it was over long ago for them.

Player Updates:

* Jon Matsumoto had himself an impressive week after being reassigned from the NHL level. He scored three goals and added an assist which ties him for the team lead for scoring this week.


(Jon Matsumoto, via Gregg Forwerck)

* Riley Nash chipped in an assist on Osala's eighth goal of the season on Sunday to give him one point this week.

* Drayson Bowman scored his fourth goal of the year- an overtime goal that sank the Admirals just 25 seconds into the extra frame. Brett Carson got the only assist. Bowman finished the week with one goal and two assists.

* Jerome Samson contributed a goal and an assist this week.


(Jerome Samson, via Gregg Forwerck)

* Oskar Osala was a threat this week as he scored a goal and added three assists. He was the first star of Sunday's game with three points.


(Oskar Osala, via Gregg Forwerck)

* Chris Terry scored a goal and added an assist in the four games this week.

* Justin Pogge started three of the four games this week. He helped the Checkers beat Norfolk on the road once in the shootout and once in overtime. He also won his start on Sunday allowing two goals on 36 shots.


(Justin Pogge, via Gregg Forwerck)

*Mike Murphy was in net for the only Checker's loss this week. He allowed three goals on 29 shots.

* Drayson Bowman, Brett Sutter, and Brad Herauf all dropped the gloves this week for Charlotte.

*The Checkers haven't had the best luck in the shootout this season. However, Brett Carson scored in his first attempt, and Zac Dalpe scored the deciding shootout winner to finish off Norfolk.


The Checkers rolled a line which was centered by Matsumoto and featured Drayson Bowman and Jerome Samson on the wings. The first line was a big part of the Checkers win over Binghamton on Sunday as Matsumoto and Samson both scored key goals.

Michal Jordan and Bryan Rodney worked as a pair this week. They looked like they had good chemistry working. Without Carson, Zack Fitzgerald and Ethan Graham worked together, and Casey Borer was partnered with Brett Bellemore. The Checkers defense as a whole was very physical this week. Also noticebly physical was Oskar Osala, who threw his big frame around well, especially in the corners.

Former Florida Everblades goaltender, Barry Brust played well in his two starts against the Checkers this weekend. After holding the Checkers scoreless for a full game and then some, Jerome Samson snapped the team's scoreless streak against him that stretched 73:07 of game time including his shutout in front of a packed house Saturday night in Charlotte.


(Barry Brust, via Gregg Forwerck)

The Checkers penalty kill went 14 for 16 on the week, their powerplay scored twice in 13 chances.

Congratulations to Hamilton Bulldogs forward David Desharnais for being named the American Hockey League player of the week.

Nicolas Blanchard was injured, but played through the pain. After breaking his jaw in practice, Blanchard wore a full face shield a la Tim Gleason after blocking that Ovechkin shot last year. Blanchard's line which was centered by Sutter and had tough customer Herauf on the opposite wing, had great net presence and accounted for two fights this week.


The Checkers have a tough back to back this week against first place Wilkes Barre/Scranton. It's been awhile since the Pens and Checkers met up, perhaps Charlotte has some surprises for the high scoring Penguins. After that back to back at Time Warner Cable Arena, the Checkers take to the road to battle the Albany Devils and Springfield Falcons on Friday and Saturday.

Tues. Jan. 4th vs. Wilkes Barre/Scranton 7 P.M.

Wed. Jan. 5th vs. Wilkes Barre/Scranton 7 P.M.

Fri. Jan. 7th @ Albany 7 P.M.

Sat. Jan 8th @ Springfield 7 P.M.

Checkers Trivia:

Eric Boulton received the most votes to the last trivia question. That's correct, Eric Boulton enjoys playing time with the Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL now, but he played in 97 games with the ECHL Charlotte Checkers between 1996 and 1998. Boulton registered 52 points for Charlotte in his tenure with the team.

Now how about something in honor of Justin Pogge for this week? Pogge after all, helped the Checkers win three games this week. He's big, he's got a mean streak, and he stops pucks. Let's journey back to his junior roots...