The Charlotte Checkers are fighting for their playoff lives and kept their head above water over the past couple of weeks, going 3-2-0 in their past five games. Charlotte currently sits six points back of fourth place in the Central Division with 17 games left in the schedule.
The Checkers started their five game stretch with a thrilling 5-4 shootout victory over the Milwaukee Admirals. After falling behind 2-0 early in the first period, the Checkers came roaring back with three goals in six minutes in the first. Andrew Poturalski led the way for the Checkers throughout the game with a goal and two assists. It took eight rounds to settle the game in a shootout but Kris Newbury finally secured the victory with a wrist shot past Admirals goalie Marek Mazanec.
The Checkers next played back-to-back games against the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers affiliate), dropping both contests. The Checkers allowed five goals in the first game and followed that performance up by allowing a season-high seven goals in the second game. 2016 fourth overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi led the way for Bakersfield in the pair of games, recording two goals and two assists.
The Checkers then hit the road for a pair of games against the Manitoba Moose in their final games of the season against Manitoba. The Checkers topped the Moose 4-3 in the first game behind a strong first period from Lucas Wallmark, Connor Brickley and Andrew Miller. Daniel Altshuller shut the door on a strong Moose attack stopping 35 of 38 shots.
In the second game, the Checkers beat the Moose 4-1 behind a stellar performance from newly-acquired goaltender Tom McCollum. McCollum stopped an astounding 49 of 50 shots in the win. Wallmark recorded his team-leading 21st goal and was recalled to Carolina as a result of his strong play and the injury to Valentin Zykov. The Checkers have now recorded at least a point in their last four road games, a far cry from the start of the season when they struggled mightily away from home.
The Checkers will return to Charlotte for a six-game homestand over the next two weeks, which includes a crucial two-game set against the Iowa Wild who currently sit in the coveted fourth place spot in the Central Division.
Since Last We Met:
- February 28: Milwaukee 5, Checkers 2
- March 1: Checkers 5, Milwaukee 4 (SO)
- March 4: Bakersfield 5, Checkers 2
- March 5: Bakersfield 7, Checkers 2
- March 9: Checkers 4, Manitoba 3
- March 10: Checkers 4, Manitoba 1
Next up for the Checkers: (28-27-4-0, 60 points, 6th Central Div)
- March 17 and 18: home vs. Ontario
- March 21 and 22: home vs. Iowa
- March 25 and 26: home vs. Chicago