The Charlotte Checkers had a solid week, winning two of their three games and continuing a series of alternating wins and losses that dates back to November 22. The team remains the league’s best penalty killing team by a substantial margin with an astounding 92.7% of penalties killed. They’ve allowed just 8 power play goals in 24 games played.
In their first game of the week, Charlotte steamrolled the Syracuse Crunch 5-1. Julien Gauthier scored a pair of first-period goals to give Charlotte the early 2-0 lead but Syracuse cut the lead in half with less than five minutes to go in the period. However, Charlotte’s offense continued to push and added another pair of goals in the second period with Hunter Shinkaruk scoring his fourth goal of the season and Kyle Wood recording his third. Charlotte killed all three penalties they committed, and Anton Forsberg made 17 saves in the outing.
Game two didn’t fare as well for the Checkers as the Rochester Americans shut out Charlotte 4-0. Rochester took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission but the second period proved disastrous for Charlotte as the Americans rattled off three goals. Alex Nedeljkovic allowed four goals on 31 shots and Charlotte couldn’t get anything going on the power play, as they missed on all three opportunities.
In the final game of the week, Charlotte got back into the win column with a 3-1 win over the Americans. Gauthier and Morgan Geekie each had first period scores to give the Checkers a 2-0 lead. Jean-Sebastian Dea cut the lead in half for Rochester but it would be the only power play goal the Checkers allowed on five opportunities. Anton Forsberg made 32 saves on the night in recording his second straight win.
Julien Gauthier was recalled to Raleigh and will play in Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Gauthier remains a bright spot in what could be a lost season for Charlotte. Gauthier’s size and playmaking can translate well to the NHL level but a stacked roster could push Gauthier back down to the AHL in the long run.
Swamp Rabbits Roundup
Greenville split their pair of games this week, falling 4-1 to Norfolk on Friday night and then earning a 3-2 win on Sunday thanks in part to another outstanding performance by Jeremy Hevlig. Greenville’s ailing defense did little to help Helvig in game two of the week but the goaltender stayed strong, stopping an astounding 45 shots and even playing through cramps he was dealing with throughout the game.
Greenville has a busy week ahead with match-ups against the Atlanta Gladiators, two games against the Orlando Solar Bears and a visit to the first-place South Carolina Stingrays. The game against Orlando on Friday will be the Swamp Rabbits’ annual Teddy Bear Toss, with the stuffed animals flying after Greenville’s first goal of the game.