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Charlotte Checkers Corner: It’s Go Time

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The Checkers wrap the regular season and head into the playoffs.

Jacob Kupferman/Charlotte Checkers

The accolades rolled in for Charlotte this week with many award winners announced as the season came to a close. Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci was named the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach. Alex Nedeljkovic was named to the AHL First All-Star team and Andrew Poturalski was named to the AHL Second All-Star team. To add to the accolades, the Checkers added another pair of wins to wrap up a sterling regular season.

Weekly Recap

The Checkers topped the Cleveland Monsters in overtime last Thursday thanks to an Aleksi Saarela goal. The Monsters burst out to an early 2-0 lead before the Checkers stormed back and tied it up before the end of the first period. Julien Gauthier scored his 26th of the season and Martin Necas added a pair of assists. Nedeljkovic stopped 25 shots in the win.

Charlotte wrapped its regular season the next night with a 2-1 win over the Monsters. Tomas Jurco and Julien Gauthier scored the pair of goals for the Checkers with Jurco getting his 12th of the season. Necas had another pair of helpers in the win, finishing the season with 36 assists. Dustin Tokarski stopped an astounding 40 shots in the win.

Player of the Week

How could you not give player of the week to the pair of players of the year? Alex Nedeljkovic has taken strides in his development and his numbers show a promising trend. Nedeljkovic finished the season with a 34-9-5 record, a .916 save percentage and a 2.26 goals against average. His save percentage is way up from a mediocre .903 last year.

Poturalski met the 70 point plateau with 23 goals and 47 assists. His 70 points were good enough for fifth in the league.

Thought of the Week

To me, the AHL has always been weird. While NHL teams with the better record typically get to play the first two games at home, the AHL does not honor that in the first round. The Checkers will play Games 3, 4 and 5 at home instead. If a team goes down 2-0 in the first pair of games with a hostile environment playing a factor, the three home games remaining leave little room for error. Why not have a format similar to the NHL? Standardize it across the league: 2-2-1 with the final game going to the higher seed and the first two games of the series also going to the team that’s the higher seed. Just my two cents.

With Andrei Svechnikov’s unfortunate injury that will likely keep him out the remainder of the postseason, it’s pretty baffling the Hurricanes would not call up top prospect Martin Necas. The Czech forward is coming off a five-game stretch in which he totaled 10 points (two goals, eight assists). Necas finished the regular season with 52 points in 64 games and looked to fit right in with the rest of the league. Instead, the Hurricanes opted for Patrick Brown (press release below). I’m not too sure Brown could make a substantial impact like Necas could have. It was worth a roll of the dice to bring him up.

Looking Ahead

The Charlotte Checkers will now take on the Providence Bruins for a best-of-five series. Here’s a look at the upcoming schedule:

  • Game 1 - Saturday, April 20 - 7:05 p.m. - Providence
  • Game 2 - Sunday, April 21 - 5:05 p.m. - Providence
  • Game 3 - Wednesday, April 24 - 7:00 p.m. - Charlotte
  • Game 4 - Friday, April 26 - 7:00 p.m. - Charlotte
  • Game 5 - Saturday, April 27 - 6:00 p.m. - Charlotte

CANES RECALL BROWN FROM CHARLOTTE

Checkers captain posted career highs in goals and points this season

Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled forward Patrick Brown from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL) on an emergency basis.

Brown, 26, registered 35 points (19g, 16a) in 70 games with Charlotte this season. The 5’11”, 214-pound forward set AHL career highs in goals, points, power-play goals (5) and game-winning goals (3) in 2018-19 and ranked tied for fourth on the team in goals and power-play goals. Brown has earned 125 points (53g, 72a) in 334 career AHL games. The Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native has earned two points (1g, 1a) in 28 career NHL games with the Hurricanes.