The Charlotte Checkers split a pair of games to start their six-game homestand, taking a loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday but following it up with a win against the Penguins on Saturday.
I’ve been able to cover multiple wins live this year but I’ve also been at two of the worst games of the season: a 5-1 loss to the Binghmaton Senators on Nov. 20 and Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Penguins. Both had something similar other than the score.
Each of those two losses had one of the better crowds of the season. As is the case with the Hurricanes, crowds tend to flock more to Bojangles Coliseum on the weekend. In both losses, head coach Mike Vellucci was not happy for one reason: how the Checkers played in front of their home crowd.
Vellucci had passionate responses in both efforts and seems to understand the selling point of hockey in the state. Win and they will come. Show a poor effort and the casual fan’s likelihood of returning likely decreases.
Tuesday’s game will be the Checkers first sold crowd of the season as they are hosting their annual 1950s Night featuring drastically reduced ticket prices and $1 hot dogs, 50 cent sodas and 50 cent popcorns. Its a safe bet to say Vellucci will have his team ready to play in front of a great crowd.
Canes Country had coverage of Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Penguins:
Checkers Rocked By Penguins 5-1
The Checkers followed the loss with a 5-3 win over the Penguins on Saturday. Alex Nedeljkovic lead the way with 32 saves on 35 shots and Nicolas Roy had a three-point night with two goals and an assist. Charlotte burst out to a three goal lead in the first period before the Penguins cut the gap to 3-2 until Roy added cushion late in the second period with a goal. The Penguins’ Jeff Taylor responded to close the one goal gap again but Roy delivered the dagger with an empty net goal late in the third.
Player of the Week
Nicolas Roy is this week’s player of the week. His three-point performance propelled the Checkers to their lone win of the weekend. While the Greg McKegg and Clark Bishop experiments have been fun, it would be interesting to see Roy get a larger chance in the NHL. The six-games was a small chance but Roy’s size as a center or wing would fit well into the Hurricanes’ system. He’s been productive at the AHL level this season with 26 points in 33 games.
Thought of the Week
Callum Booth was fantastic in his back-up role for the Checkers before being forced to the ECHL to make way for Scott Darling and his contract. In seven games at the AHL, Booth posted a 1.89 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. Now at the ECHL, Booth’s numbers have suffered with a 2.76 goals against average and a .903 save percentage in 12 games. Scott Darling has a 3.31 goals against with a .882 save percentage in ten games this season. In a previous column, I suggested Booth’s development could hurt as result of making way for Darling. It’s starting to show short-term effects.
The Checkers have a busy week with a pair of games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Charlotte takes on Toronto on Saturday and Sunday to wrap up their homestand.