The Charlotte Checkers have won three straight games after dropping their first game of the week. The boys in red now sit tied for first place in the Atlantic Division. Warren Foegele and Valentin Zykov posted good numbers in an impressive showing at home.
Charlotte dropped their first match-up of the week last Tuesday, falling 6-3 to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Former Checkers goalie John Muse was perfect in a relief appearance after Dustin Tokarski was pulled after allowing three first-period goals. Lehigh Valley responded with four unanswered goals as they peppered Checkers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic with 37 shots.
The Checkers got their revenge the next day with a strong 5-2 win over the Phantoms . Charlotte scored four unanswered goals before Lehigh Valley finally found the back of the net. Jeremy Smith stopped 35 of 37 shots and captain Patrick Brown had a pair of goals. Zykov continued his goal scoring prowess with a second period goal.
Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci decided to roll with Smith again and it paid off as the veteran journeyman turned aside 20 shots in a 3-1 victory Saturday against the Laval Rocket. Lucas Wallmark and Trevor Carrick each had multi-point nights. For the Rocket, former Checker and Hurricane Chris Terry tallied a primary assist against his old team.
Charlotte brought the offensive firepower in their fourth game of the week, topping Laval 7-5 in their third straight victory. Foegele and Zykov each had two goals and an assist in the win. Laval had a 5-4 lead in the third period, but three unanswered goals secured the victory for the Checkers.
Thought of the Week
Julien Gauthier, in an interview with RDS, had some strong words for the team and seems upset with his current situation:
I never play on the power play and am always below 10 minutes. And nothing is said to me ... only to work hard. I am the only forward on the team who does not play on the power play or on the penalty kill. I do not really understand. They want to break me, maybe, but why?
Gauthier came into his own when Wallmark was out, playing on a line with Janne Kuokkanen. He has 8 points in 23 games. Frankly, I understand the frustration but maybe the comments were a bit soon. He’s not even a full season into his first professional season so maybe it would have been wise to pump the brakes on comments to the press.
Player of the Week
This week’s player of the week is Valentin Zykov. He netted five goals this week and now sits second on the team in scoring with 24 points. He’s currently shooting 32.1%, so that’s bound to come down, but Charlotte might as well let the hot hand continue to roll.
Charlotte will have two additional home games this week with a pair of games against the Hershey Bears heading into the holidays. After the holidays, they hit the road for five straight games.