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Charlotte Checkers Media Day News and Notes

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Some new food items, Checkers take on Homegrown Series and thoughts from Coach Vellucci.

The Charlotte Checkers held a media event on Wednesday to allow media members to sample new food items (by far the most important feature) and interview coaches and players. Here are some news and notes from the event:

  • The Checkers will have their own take of the Canes Homegrown Series, as they will feature local food, bands and breweries at five games this season. Each game will feature a signature food item and one brewery. Special t-shirt designs will also be available each game. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the shirts:
  • Charlotte introduced plenty of new food items for fans to choose from to enrich their experience. I was able to sample a few of the items. Personal favorites: the fried Twinkie and poutine. It’s hard to find good poutine in the South and the flavor was outstanding. The fried Twinkie simply melts in your mouth. Another item of interest that will be available: the Garbage Plate. It is two burger patties, cheese, fries, mac and cheese, mustard, diced onions and chili sauce. Sounds like a heart attack on a plate? Probably is.
  • Also: Grown Up Dr Pepper. Nothing more needs to be said, really.
  • Meanwhile, on to the ostensible reason this event occurred in the first place: Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci says he is "not surprised" Janne Kuokkanen made the Hurricanes’ opening night roster. He spoke very highly of him when he was introduced as head coach of the Checkers back in July, and noted he could be an offense contributor for the Checkers. While that may not be the case now with Kuokkanen in Raleigh, don’t be surprised to see Kuokkanen dominate the AHL if sent down.
  • Vellucci says that the team has been working to improve what he says was a "terrible" power play last year. The Checkers ranked dead last on the power play at 13.1%, and were the only team in the bottom five in power play percentage to make the playoffs.
  • Vellucci says the team chose Alex Nedeljkovic over Callum Booth because of Nedeljkovic’s experience. He says the tough rookie year for Ned was common for young goaltenders and noted Vancouver Canucks propsect Thatcher Demko as comparison.
  • With very few games being played by Charlotte in October, the team is expected to split time between Jeremy Smith and Nedeljkovic. Neither goalie will play in back to back games.