The Charlotte Checkers have kept their playoff hopes alive with another solid couple of weeks, posting a 3-1-1 record in their last five games. Charlotte is now 6-2-1 in the month of February.
The Checkers offense has found its stride in the month of February and that was apparent this week, as the team scored 17 goals in four games for an average of 4.25 goals per game. Andrew Poturalski continued his strong rookie season, tallying three goals and three assists in four games including an overtime game-winning goal against the Cleveland Monsters on Friday.
The Checkers’ most recent five-game stretch began with a forgettable 6-3 defeat to the Milwaukee Admirals, in which the Checkers blew a 3-1 lead and lost starting goaltender Michael Leighton to an injury. Alex Nedeljkovic took over to disastrous results, with the Admirals scoring four times in the final five minutes to steal a win.
With Leighton on the shelf, it was Nedeljkovic’s crease going forward, and he made the most of it, shutting out the Rockford IceHogs the next night by a 2-0 score. The rookie played his best game as a member of the Checkers, stopping all 32 shots he faced. Valentin Zykov started the scoring midway through the first period and Poturalski doubled the lead early in the second to secure the Checkers’ win.
Charlotte faced the Milwaukee Admirals the following night and dropped a 5-4 decision in overtime. Frederick Gaudreau scored just 44 seconds into the extra frame to secure the win for the Admirals. Andrew Miller recorded three points (one goal, two assists) but it wasn’t enough to earn two points.
The team wrapped up their week with back-to-back wins against the defending Calder Cup champion Cleveland Monsters. On Friday, the Checkers topped the Monsters 5-4 in overtime. Poturalski led the way with two goals, including the game-winner, and Levko Koper also added a goal and an assist. Charlotte followed that game with a resounding 6-1 win against the Monsters the next night. Bryan Bickell recorded an assist in his first game back at any level since October 30th after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Heading into this week, the Checkers sit one point back from the Monsters for fifth place in the Central Division. The top four teams from each division make the playoffs and the Checkers are six points back from the fourth place Iowa Wild but have four games in hand. A playoff spot is still feasible but the Checkers must go above .500 to get there.
Since Last We Met:
- February 17: Milwaukee 6, Checkers 3
- February 18: Checkers 2, Rockford 0
- February 19: Milwaukee 5, Checkers 4 (OT)
- February 24: Checkers 5, Cleveland 4 (OT)
- February 25: Checkers 6, Cleveland 1
Next up for the Checkers: (25-24-4-0, 54 points, 6th Central Div)
- February 28 and March 1: home vs. Milwaukee
- March 4 and 5: home vs. Bakersfield
- March 9 and 10: at Manitoba