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The Road To Raleigh: Saving the Best for Last


(Zach Boychuk celebrates a goal with his teammates, via Gregg Forwerck)

The Checkers were tasked with two games at home against the Springfield Falcons for their first games of the week. Taking care of the Falcons was the first order of business for the Checkers, followed by a Sunday afternoon affair with the division leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Checkers scored 17 total goals in the three games that occurred this week, and they saved nine of them for the Penguins on the road.

A familiar prospect notched a nice looking hat trick against the blown-away Penguins in their own arena. Mike Murphy and Justin Pogge split the two wins this week, and the Charlotte powerplay exploded for a eight goals in 18 chances on the week. Find out who lead the charge after the jump.


The Checkers knew that points this week would be difficult to come by. If you told Charlotte last week that they could have four out of six available points after this set of games, they would have jumped all over the offer. As it turns out, earning a split against the Falcons, and a big win over the Penguins made that situation a reality. It would have been nice to take both games from Springfield. A late flurry fell just short on Friday night in front of over 10,000 fans at Time Warner Cable Arena, representing the only blemish this week for the Checkers.

Results: Attendance:

Wed. Jan. 19th vs. Springfield W 3-1 5,125

Fri. Jan. 21st vs. Springfield L 5-6 10,317

Sun. Jan. 23rd @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton W 9-5 7,144

East Division Standings (As of Sun. Jan. 23rd, @ 10:45 P.M.):

Rank East Division GP W L OTL SL PTS PCT GF GA STK P10 S/O PIM
1 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 45 34 11 0 0 68 0.756 152 110 0-1-0-0 7-3-0-0 4-0 910
2 Norfolk Admirals 44 24 11 7 2 57 0.648 157 121 0-1-0-0 6-3-1-0 3-2 977
3 Hershey Bears 43 26 14 1 2 55 0.640 150 102 3-0-0-0 6-2-1-1 1-2 853
4 Charlotte Checkers 46 25 16 1 4 55 0.598 162 148 1-0-0-0 5-4-0-1 2-4 770
5 Binghamton Senators 46 23 18 2 3 51 0.554 149 129 3-0-0-1 7-2-0-1 1-3 779
6 Albany Devils 43 17 23 0 3 37 0.430 110 150 0-3-0-0 4-5-0-1 3-3 1001
7 Syracuse Crunch 45 16 24 1 4 37 0.411 105 144 1-0-0-0 3-6-0-1 0-4 824
8 Adirondack Phantoms 46 13 28 2 3 31 0.337 102 162 0-1-0-1 4-3-0-3 3-3


The Penguins loss total finally moves into the double digits after this week. You have to think that the loss of Dustin Jefrey to the big boys in Pittsburgh really hurts them. Fans of the Junior Pens are likely wishing for a quick return of Malkin and Crosby. The Admirals occupy second, while the Bears are tied with the Checkers at 55 points. It should be noted however, that the Admirals have two games on the Checkers, and the Bears have three. As it is said every week, the Senators continue to hang just close enough behind to be factored into the chase.

Player Updates:

* Zach Boychuk exploded for four goals and two assists this week in three games. Boychuk was playing with a particular explosiveness like a man who just had a successful NHL stint should. Boychuk capped off the week with a natural hat-trick against the Penguins

* Jon Matsumoto scored once and added three assists to make for a nice looking week for another prospect who has spent time with the Hurricanes

* Oskar Osala helped the Checkers out with two goals and two assists this week. A nice looking week for the Finland native included a two goal night in the loss to Springfield on Friday night.

* Jerome Samson was quieter than we are used to seeing him. He scored once this week, and somehow managed to avoid notching a point in the nine goal outburst on Sunday

* Brett Carson picked up two assists this week. Included was a nice week in the plus/minus department. A +3 rating was the final rating for Carson.

* Zac Dalpe picked up nine points this week. Yes, you read that correctly. If you thought Boychuk's six points were impressive, look at Dalpe's week. He opened up the scoring in the loss to Springfield on Friday night, and added eight assists (four of which came in Sunday's rout of the Pens).

* Drayson Bowman scored once, and added an assist. Both points came against the Penguins.

* Zack Fitzgerald thought he had scored his first goal of the year on Friday night. The house erupted after Fitzgerald slapped a pass from Zac Dalpe through traffic out in front and into the net. The fan favorite's shot was tipped in by Osala however. This late goal set up a nice empty net flurry that fell short for Charlotte.

* Jacob MicFlikier scored twice this week. MicFlikier often gets lost in the discussions of good goal scorers for Charlotte. He quietly has scored 19 goals on the season. Granted, he hasn't spent time at the NHL level like fellow goal scorers Boychuk and Dalpe have.

* It has become clear that Riley Nash plays a defensive game from his center ice position. He did however, pick up a goal and an assist by joining the scoring party in Wilkes-Barre. The two-way forward's goal was his ninth of the season.

* The usual suspects mixed it up in fights this week. Brett Sutter, Zack Fitzgerald, and Brett Bellemore all dropped the gloves. On a surprising note, however, Michal Jordan took on an opponent on Friday night against Springfield.

* Mike Murphy started in both games against the Falcons. He split the decisions. Justin Pogge was in net against Springfield, and despite giving up five goals, found himself a winner thanks to all the offensive support.


You have to love Dalpe and Boychuk. The future is so bright for the two of them. We saw how they fared with the Hurricanes, and it is good to see that they have gone on torrid scoring paces since their reassignment. The confidence level for the two of them must be sky high. It was excellent to see the Checkers pick up two wins this week. If the late rally goes a little different on Friday night, we are talking about a clean three game sweep of the games this week. Two out of three is a very nice finish either way however, and touching up John Curry of the Penguins for seven goals on 20 shots is just good, clean fun. Wins are nice, but we are also seeing some of the Hurricane's best prospects show why they are so highly thought of. I liked Oskar Osala's game this week. Many of us are hopeful that Osala could develop into an NHL caliber player at some point in the future. With his big frame and nice shot, he would make a very nice NHL forward, he just has to work on some of the finer things in his game. It's always exciting to see Riley Nash get rewarded with points. He plays a strong defensive game, and seeing him notch a hat-trick in a preseason game really wet my appetite for seeing this guy succeed. In a perfect world, wouldn't it be fantastic to see Nash complimenting Brandon Sutter as a defensively minded forward on the third or fourth line? Where would that put Ryan Carter in the plans for the future? One thing is for sure, with the Boychuk and Dalpe scoring like they are, there are more roster decisions to be made in the coming years for the Hurricanes.


The Checkers will play three games this week, all away from the comforts of home. A rematch with the Penguins is in the mix Wednesday, One can be assured that the taste of the nine goal outburst will be fresh in the minds of Wilkes-Barre. Charlotte then travels to Adirondack for a match-up with the last place Phantoms. It's been quite awhile since the Checkers saw the Phantoms. Saturday holds an afternoon matchup against the Hershey Bears. That game will feature a rare 2:00 P.M puck drop.

Wed. Jan. 26th 7:05 P.M @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Fri. Jan. 28th 7:30 P.M @ Adirondack

Sat. Jan. 29th 2:00 P.M @ Hershey

Checkers Trivia:

The majority of readers were right on with their trivia answer last week. Jerome Samson leads the team in goals, but also shots on goal. Looks like there is a correlation between the two. This week, let's look more in depth at another Checker's forward who has a lot of upside.

This Checker played his junior hockey for the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. Showing a fierce compete level, goal scoring ability, and willingness to drop the gloves, this prospect recorded an impressive 47 goals complimented with 107 penalty minutes in 62 games of junior hockey. This multi-talented Checker is...

The Week in Pictures:


(Oskar Osala drives the net against Springfield, via Gregg Forwerck)


(Jon Matsumoto negotiates his way around a Springfield defender, via Gregg Forwerck)


(All-star Bryan Rodney looks for a teammate to celebrate with after assisting on a Zach Boychuk goal against Springfield, via Gregg Forwerck)


(Zach Boychuk prepares to enter his own zone, via Gregg Forwerck)


(Drayson Bowman shares some words with Nick Holden after the whistle on Friday night, via Gregg Forwerck)


(Zac Dalpe and Jon Matsumoto prepare to celebrate an early powerplay goal on Friday night, via Gregg Forwerck)


(But the Falcons score. Talented Maksim Mayorov notches his 11th of the year on the powerplay in Friday's second period, via Gregg Forwerck)


(Oskar Osala was pumped up after sniping David LeNeveu for his first of two goals on the night, via Gregg Forwerck)