The Charlotte Checkers may have taken a bit of an early Christmas vacation as they rolled into the holiday with a pair of losses. Despite the stutter, Charlotte remains in a great position atop the league standings with a seven-point lead over the 2nd place team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Checkers remain the only team in the AHL to reach the 20-win plateau this season and now have a .750 win percentage.
The Checkers kicked off the week with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Utica Comets that was capped off by a costly mistake by Checkers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. Canes Country had coverage of the game:
The Checkers followed the overtime loss up with its worst loss of the season, a 6-1 at the hands of the the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday. Former Checkers netminder Jeremy Smith saved 29 of 30 shots against his former team. Bridgeport burst out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period before Andrew Poturalski cut the lead in half eight minutes into the second period. After Poturalski’s goal, the Checkers collapsed, surrendering four unanswered goals. Bridgeport’s Sebastian Aho (the other one) had three assists for the Sound Tigers. Meanwhile, in the Checkers’ net, Scott Darling stopped just 22 of 28 shots. Darling dropped to 3-2 with the Checkers this season and has a 2.99 goals against average and a .887 save percentage.
The Checkers were able to right the ship in their next match-up with a 3-1 win over the Sound Tigers. The game was a snoozefest through two periods until both offenses awoke in the third. Nicolas Roy and Morgan Geekie scored to put the Checkers up a pair before Bridgeport responded with a goal of their own. Andrew Poturalski responded with an empty net goal with less than a minute remaining to secure the win for the Checkers. Alex Nedeljkovic stood tall in net, stopping 27 of 28 shots.
Thought of the Week
As the calendar turns into 2019, the Checkers have a lot to be thankful for in a very successful 2018. The team is on pace for their best season in franchise history and still look as complete as they were when they started the 2018-19 season. Mini-slumps like this don’t define what the Checkers will look like for the rest of the season, but instead give them a chance to overcome adversity. This Checkers team is extremely young and has persisted through call-ups of key players this year like Janne Kuokkanen and Clark Bishop. The constant roster shakeups early in the season have given the team an opportunity to roll four lines and find secondary scoring deep in the lineup.
Player of the Week
A player of the week will not be given out this week. No player stood out during any of the games enough to be worthy of recognition. This week was different than most, with players performing below the level of their normal performances.
The Checkers hit the road for a six-game road trip that will conclude on January 6 against the Toronto Marlies. They kick of the road trip with a pair of games on Friday and Saturday against the Laval Rocket. The Checkers won’t return home until January 11.