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Checkers Corner: No Home Away From Home

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The Checkers have dropped four straight games after a scorching hot start.

during the AHL hockey game between the Utica Comets and the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday October 29, 2017 at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, NC. Jacob Kupferman/CSM Jacob Kupferman/Charlotte Checkers/Cal Sport Media

There’s a lot of weird happenings going on in North Carolina sports. The Carolina Hurricanes are all of a sudden good and now the Checkers are struggling to keep their head above water. Is this a rip-off of the Kevin Durant Thunderstruck movie where KD and the kid touch the basketball at the same time and they swap powers?

Well, let’s hope not.

The Checkers have now lost four straight games at the tail end of their eight game road trip. Charlotte won the first four games, outscoring their opponents 18-6 over that span. Now on the wrong side of the score sheet, Charlotte has been outscored 19-7 over the four recent losses.

In game one of the week, the Checkers took on the Syracuse Crunch. Syracuse scored three goals early in the first and the Checkers would make some noise, bringing it to within one. However, Michael Bournival scored the back breaker that would thwart a chance at a Charlotte comeback and Charlotte lost 5-3. Janne Kuokkanen registered two assists in the loss.

Game two was riddled with late game mishaps that cost Charlotte the game against the Springfield Thunderbirds. A two minute bench minor for two many men on the ice followed by the ol’ puck over the glass trick by Philip Samuelsson put the Checkers in a two-man disadvantage with just under three minutes to go. Tim Erixon capitalized on the fortunate opportunity and an empty netter secured a 5-3 win for Springfield.

Charlotte was clearly unable to shake off the loss and lost to Springfield 4-0 later in the week. The Checkers out-shot their opponent 32-18 and went 0-for-6 on the power play. Checkers goalie Jeremy Smith made 14 saves on 17 shots.

The Checkers wrapped up the week with a 5-2 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Travis St. Denis scored twice for Bridgeport and Chris Gibson only had to face 16 shots from a tired Charlotte offense.

Thoughts of the Week

It’s great that the TSA line of Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho are clicking but secondary scoring remains an issue. The Canes fourth line has combined for just 11 points, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to call up Lucas Wallmark. Wallmark could add a jump start to the heart of the bottom six and it would additionally tack on the message to Victor Rask that the Hurricanes need offensive help.

Player of the Week

Janne Kuokkanen had a quiet but good week in the midst of all the losing. The rookie forward registered a goal and three assists in four games and has gained head coach Mike Vellucci’s favor, playing on the second line with Aleksi Saarela and Patrick Brown. He’s now got six points in eight games this season.

Looking Ahead

The Checkers return home for a six-game home-stand, four games of which will be played against division opponents. Charlotte will play 12 out of their next 14 games at home. This stretch of games will allow them to establish a home-ice advantage of which they have yet to do so this year. They’re .500 at Bojangles Coliseum this year.