The Checkers, much like a banana on a sundae, split their pair of games this weekend yet again in what has become an ongoing theme for a team on track to finish around .500 if they continue at their current pace. Special teams continue to be the team’s strength, ranking 1st on the penalty kill and 7th with the man advantage. It’s the inconsistency at 5-on-5 that continues to be the prevailing theme to Charlotte’s early season struggles.
On Friday, Charlotte played one of their best games of the season in a 3-0 win over the Hershey Bears. Alex Nedeljkovic had his best game of the season with a perfect night, stopping all 36 shots he faced. Steven Lorentz broke through with the game’s first goal five minutes into the second period for his fourth goal of the season. Colin Markison and Morgan Geekie each added late third period goals to secure the win for Charlotte. Geekie remains the team leader in points with ten (five goals, five assists) in 14 games.
Despite a strong 35-save performance from Anton Forsberg, Charlotte dropped a 2-1 decision to Hershey in the team’s second game of the weekend. Hershey completely outmanned the Checkers defense as the the Bears controlled the play in the first two periods, outshooting Charlotte 31-14. Max McCormick scored the lone Checkers goal in the loss.
With Erik Haula expected to miss extended time, now is the best opportunity for a Checker to try to secure a roster spot for the future. First up is Eetu Luostarinen, who received his second call-up to fill Haula’s spot after impressing in his first chance. If Luostarinen fails to hold his spot, look for Morgan Geekie or Julien Gauthier to get a chance. While Geekie has slotted in at center with the Checkers, the team has historically shifted centers to the wing to gain experience (for example, Martin Necas).
Swamp Rabbits Roundup
Greenville had a strong (and busy) week, finishing 3-1 in their four games played. The Swamp Rabbits beat the Norfolk Admirals handily in both games played, with a 4-3 win and then a 8-1 rout in their second game played. A strong effort against the Indy Fuel earned them a 3-0 start to the week but couldn’t complete the 4-for-4 after being shut out by the Florida Everblades 3-0.
Forward Patrick Bajkov continues to lead the team in points with an almost point-per-game pace with 15 in 16 games. He earned the game-winner in Greenville’s win over Norfolk in the first game of the week.