Justin resumes his weekly Checkers column for the 2018-19 season, appearing every Tuesday on Canes Country. Game coverage will be provided at times throughout the season.
While Checkers alumni thrived for the Hurricanes at the NHL level, the current Checkers started off on the right foot. The team heads into week two undefeated after winning both of their opening weekend games.
The Checkers started the season in Rochester on Friday night where they dominated the Americans for a 6-2 win. Janne Kuokkanen opened the scoring with a 1st period goal. Nicolas Roy added two goals and an assist. Andrew Potrualski added a goal and two assists and brought a complete effort, playing well in all three zones. “I love Potsy. He does all the right things. His competitiveness has gotten way better than he started last year,” coach Mike Vellucci said in high praise of the two-way forward.
Charlotte continued their strong play with a solid showing again on Saturday against the Americans, this time topping them 4-2. Morgan Geekie kicked off the scoring, earning his first goal of the season after a strong showing in Checkers camp and Hurricanes training camp. The forward has a underrated set of hands that thrive in tight spaces around the net. The Americans bounced back with two goals after Geekie’s tally before the Checkers scored three unanswered goals to close out the game. Roy scored a pair to solidify the win for the Checkers.
Thought of the Week
This team, much like the Hurricanes, will only go as far as their goaltending takes them. The offensive production is there. The defense is strong. As stressed in our season preview, Nedeljkovic must prove himself a vaulable asset in the organization this year. Yes, the season is young but he can’t let goals in like this. Flukes happened too often with him last year and his save percentage is an important number to keep an eye on this season.
Player of the Week
Who else but Nicolas Roy? His six points (four goals, two assists) lead the league through two games. Roy, much like Hurricane forward Warren Foegele, was streaky over the course of the 2017-18 season. It was only a matter of time until the two found continued success.
Speaking of Foegele, Vellucci is anything but surprised by his immediate impact on the Hurricanes. “He deserves it. He competes every night and brings it every shift. The goals are great and the assists are great but its the work ethic that gets him those things,” said the coach.
The Checkers don’t play until the weekend, and they remain in New York for matchups against the Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks) and Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning). The Checkers may fair better against a Comets team without star goalie Thatcher Demko. The 22-year-old is currently in the concussion protocol and the Comets will role with Richard Bachman and Ivan Kulbakov in net while they take it slow with Demko.
The Crunch feature defenseman Cal Foote that may otherwise be in the NHL, if the Lightning weren’t as deep as a franchise as they are. He could cause the Checkers problems on Saturday night.
Well, guess I’m not the only one to notice Nicolas Roy this week. The AHL has named him Player of the Week. This is the second consecutive season a Checkers player has won the award in the first week of the season.
After two dominant outings against Rochester, Checkers forward Nicolas Roy has been named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week.
The 21-year-old kicked off the season with back-to-back three-point performances against the Amerks, logging two goals and an assist in each game.
Roy, who was credited with the game-winning goal in both contests, matched the best two-game start in franchise history in terms of both goals and points, matching Warren Foegele’s four goals in 2017-18 and Jon Matsumoto’s six points in 2011-12. Those totals also led the league after the first weekend and are currently tied for the lead along with former Checker Zac Dalpe, who has played one more game.
Additionally, Roy became the third player in franchise history to score both a power-play and shorthanded goal in a single game on Saturday, joining Brock McGinn in 2016-17 and Chris Terry in 2010-11.
Roy, a fourth-round pick by Carolina in 2015, is the ninth player in franchise history to earn AHL Player of the Week honors and the fifth forward to do so. This also marks the second consecutive campaign in which a Checkers player has been named Player of the Week for the first week of the season, with Foegele capturing the honor to start 2017-18.