Charlotte’s six-game homestand wrapped up on a rocky note with a pair of losses. The Checkers finished 3-2-1 at Bojangles Coliseum. Despite their rough patch, Charlotte now hold an 11 point lead on the rest of the league and are the first AHL team to reach 30 wins this season.
Charlotte kicked off the week with a strong defensive effort on 1950s Night. Canes Country had coverage of the game.
On Wednesday, Charlotte topped Bridgeport with a six-goal outburst. The Checkers and Sound Tigers were tied at one apiece before the Checkers scored three straight. At a 4-1 lead, the Checkers allowed a pair of goals to make it a one goal game. Charlotte kept the pressure on however and came away with a 6-4 win.
Charlotte fell just short later in the week with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Toronto Marlies. Callum Booth manned the nets with Alex Nedeljkovic recalled to Raleigh and stopped 21 shots in his first start since being forced to the ECHL to make way for Scott Darling. After heading into the third period down 3-1, Charlotte roared back with help from Jake Bean and Patrick Brown. Mason Marchment struck for the Marlies in the overtime period.
On Sunday, everything went wrong for Charlotte. The Marlies struck once in the first period, put three goals on the Checkers in the second and added another goal in the third. Scott Darling allowed five goals on 37 shots in a game the Checkers would like to forget.
Thought of the Week
During the Checkers’ 1-0 win over Bridgeport on Tuesday, I sat between a Nashville Predators scout and a Philadelphia Flyers scout. The Flyers scout spoke highly of Martin Necas and his play so far this season. The scout highlighted his World Junior Championships performance and said he really stood out in the tournament.
One thing I found of interest that he said was how goaltending in the NHL has changed. Much bigger bodies are covering the nets compared to what it looked like around the league just a few years ago. The scout questioned goalie Alex Nedeljkovic’s size and if it would translate to the league.
You’ve heard my opinion on it but I may just be a lowly blogger to you. Now, here’s the opinion of a professional scout from an NHL organization. The Hurricanes may be developing the wrong prospect to take over long term in Raleigh.
Cliff Pu ranks 25th among Checkers players with 0.16 points per game. That’s the lowest amount for a player to suit up in at least 30 games for Charlotte this season. Nic Roy (0.7 ppg) and Janne Kuokkanen (0.84) have suited up in the same number of games (37). Pu has one goal.
Player of the Week
Aleksi Saarela is this week’s player of the week. Saarela scored the lone and game-winning goal against Bridgeport on Tuesday and followed it with another goal against the Sound Tigers the following day. He missed Charlotte’s overtime loss to Toronto due to illness but returned for Sunday’s home finale. He’s been reliable for the Checkers this season and ranks tied for second on the team.
The Checkers get back on the road for a pair of games before the All-Star break. Charlotte takes on the Providence Bruins on Friday before facing off against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday.