After a stretch of poor play in the latter part of January and into early February, the Charlotte Checkers have gotten back on track. They’ve now won four of their last five games while outscoring their opponent 14-6 in those four wins. Charlotte holds a six-point lead over the second place team in the league, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who are also in their division.
Charlotte kicked off the weekend with a 2-1 win on Friday over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on their Miracle on Ice promotional night. Nick Schilkey continued his strong play in the second half of the season by adding a late first period goal to tie the game up after the Phantoms struck earlier in the period. There was no need for a miracle on the ice that night, however, as Haydn Fleury’s second period goal was enough for Charlotte to keep the lead through the rest of the game. Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 25 of 26 shots in route to the win.
The Checkers beat the Phantoms again on Saturday by a score of 5-2. Four Checkers had multi-point nights in the resounding win lead by Julien Gauthier’s two-goal night. Josiah Didier and Morgan Geekie each added an assist and a goal as well. Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 28 of 30 shots and stood strong in the first period when the Phantoms pushed hard.
Player of the Week
This week’s player of the week is Alex Nedeljkovic. The goaltender allowed just three goals over the pair of games over the weekend and was a rock in net when the Phantoms pushed. Nedeljkovic ranks 6th among goalies in goals against average at 2.42. He’s on pace for the best save percentage in his three year career.
Thought of the Week
While the Hurricanes stood pat at the trade deadline on the NHL level, the franchise did make a move to add additional offense to the Checkers roster. Tomas Jurco was acquired for “future considerations” and participated in his first practice with the team this morning. Jurco played in 14 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds and registered 10 points. He’ll be a nice addition to the middle-six of the line-up. Jurco is just 26 and has bounced all around from the NHL to the AHL. The Slovakian forward spent time with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks and was a decent production player in a bottom-six role. His AHL numbers have been consistently good.
As for the player to go the other way for “future considerations”, it’s unfortunate Cliff Pu could never get his footing with the Checkers. His junior numbers were explosive and indicated he could be a good player with the right development. Pu never grasped his opportunity in head coach Mike Vellucci’s line-up and found himself the odd man out. He’ll have a chance to find his groove in a Springfield line-up that has struggled.
March is full of many home games for the Checkers. 8 of the 13 games played in the month will be at Bojangles Coliseum. The Checkers will play a pair of games at home this weekend as the CIAA Tournament wraps up at Bojangles Coliseum. Charlotte will take on the Binghamton Devils on Friday at 7 p.m. followed by another match-up against the Devils on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Hurricanes on Wednesday recalled defensemen Jake Bean and Haydn Fleury from the Checkers under emergency conditions, following injuries to Justin Faulk and Calvin de Haan suffered during and, in de Haan’s case, after last night’s win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Fleury has been bouncing back and forth between Raleigh and Charlotte all season, most recently being sent down on February 9. He has played in twelve NHL games and 22 games with the Checkers this season. Bean made his NHL debut in November and was sent back after two games. The two injured defensemen are both listed as day-to-day with upper body injuries.
The emergency denotation indicates that the Hurricanes currently have fewer than six healthy defensemen, and callups made under emergency conditions do not count against the four permitted recalls from the AHL after the trade deadline. The release from the team is below.
CANES RECALL FLEURY AND BEAN FROM CHARLOTTE
Defensemen rejoin Hurricanes on emergency basis
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled defensemen Haydn Fleury and Jake Bean from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL) on an emergency basis.
Fleury, 22, has recorded one assist in 12 NHL games with Carolina this season and five points (2g, 3a) in 22 AHL games with Charlotte. The 6’3”, 208-pound defenseman has posted 34 points (11g, 23a) in 95 career AHL games and nine assists in 79 career NHL games. The Carlyle, Sask., native was drafted by the Hurricanes in the first round, seventh overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft.
Bean, 20, has played a pair of NHL games this season, making his NHL debut at Montreal on Nov. 27. Among rookie AHL defensemen, Bean ranks tied for first in goals (10) and second in points (33), while skating in 56 of Charlotte’s 57 games this season. The 6’1”, 181-pound defenseman represented Canada at the 2017 and 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships, winning silver in 2017 and gold in 2018. The Calgary, Alta., native was drafted by Carolina in the first round, 13th overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft.