Mired under .500 after two weeks, the 5-3-0 Charlotte Checkers are suddenly on cruise control thanks in large part to a hot streak by a goalie who’s had a few in his day.
The Checkers kept the good times rolling at Bojangles Coliseum last week. Another pair of victories against the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, extended the Checkers’ winning streak to four games, following back-to-back wins against Grand Rapids the previous weekend.
The Checkers’ week began with a 17-save shutout by Michael Leighton in a 4-0 win over Rockford. Leighton, who added to his AHL-record tally with his 48th career whitewashing, his second in as many games. Sergey Tolchinsky recorded his second goal of the season and also added an assist in the rout. The Checkers were perfect on the penalty kill in Wednesday’s matchup as Rockford went 0-for-5 on the man advantage. Charlotte currently sits 3rd overall on the penalty kill at 89.2%.
The Checkers faced the IceHogs again on Thursday. This time, after Brock McGinn got the Checkers on the board in the second period, the IceHogs’ Cameron Schilling finally solved Leighton after a team-record shutout streak of 198:02. Leighton’s performance over four games broke the club record of 161:11 previously held by Mike Murphy, set in the 2011 playoffs against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
McGinn’s goal extended his career-high point streak to six games. He currently ranks third on the team in points with seven (4 goals, 3 assists), behind Derek Ryan (5-6-11) and Andrew Poturalski (4-4-8). Andrew Miller recorded the game winner in the third period to secure the victory for Charlotte.
The Checkers’ next set of games are on the road against the Iowa Wild on Thursday, November 10th and Friday, November 11th.
- Although he may not lead the team in points, Andrew Poturalski continues to be the best player on the ice for Charlotte. His speed and ability to create chances make him a valuable asset for Charlotte early into his rookie season.
- With Michael Leighton’s superb play over the last few games, he may have asserted himself as the starter for the Checkers. Rookie Alex Nedeljkovic had a rough start to the season and the veteran Leighton took advantage of the opportunity. It would be ideal, however, to start Nedeljkovic in net for one of the games against the Wild in order for the rookie to get his confidence back.
- The Checkers’ 4-0-0 home start is their best since joining the AHL in 2010. They are on the road for the next six games, and when they return home they have a chance to tie the team record for consecutive home wins when they host Chicago on November 22.