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Farm Report: Checkers cooling a bit as Gauthier finds a new home

The Checkers are already struggling a bit, and now face life without their top goal scorer.

Charlotte Checkers

Checkers Recap

The Checkers split their results this week with a strong pair of wins to start the week but slid over the weekend. Charlotte continues their hold in the fourth spot in the division, but have cooled down significantly over the past couple of weeks: the Checkers have gone just 5-4-1 over the last ten games.

The Checkers topped the Rochester Americans twice early in the week, outscoring the visitors 9-4. In the first game of the week, the Checkers got off to a shaky start after allowing a goal in the opening minute. Morgan Geekie and Spencer Smallman teamed up for the deciding goal in the third period. In the second game against the Americans, the Checkers exploded for a five goal second period that decided the game. Jake Bean had a three assist period and now-former Checker Julien Gauthier added a goal and an assist to his point totals.

However, Charlotte followed that up by dropping a pair of 4-3 decisions against the Springfield Thunderbirds over the weekend. Derek Sheppard scored in the third period of the first game to send the game to overtime, but Rodrigo Abols scored in overtime to give Springfield the win. In the second game of the weekend, things got feisty in the back and forth game but Charlotte squandered a tied game in the third by allowing Springfield to control the flow of the game and score a pair of goals.

Speaking of Gauthier, the Hurricanes made a daring move today sending the former first-rounder to the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Joey Keane. Regardless of Gauthier’s NHL prospects and whether he had a future in Raleigh, this sends a gut punch to the Checkers’ top-six forward group. Gauthier has been productive for the Checkers this season with 37 points (26 goals, 11 assists) in 44 games. For a team that struggled to score until the midway point of this season, it will be a jolt to Charlotte’s forward group and the team will have to somehow fill the hole internally (perhaps an expanded role for Morgan Geekie) with the deadline quickly approaching.

Swamp Rabbits Recap

Greenville suffered a pair of overtime losses to this week, both by scores of 4-3. The Jacksonville Icemen broke the Swamp Rabbits’ hearts on Valentine’s Day after Greenville took a penalty in overtime. Jacksonville’s Chase Lang scored to secure the win for the Icemen.

In the second game of the weekend, the South Carolina Stingrays came out on top 4-3 in a game the Swamp Rabbits led until the final minutes. Tom Parisi continued his strong season by tying the game in the final minute and Eddie Witchow scored the game winner to keep Greenville winless over the weekend.

This weekend, the Swamp Rabbits will host back-to-back theme nights. On Military Appreciation Night Friday, the Rabbits will celebrate the armed forces and wear specialty jerseys to be auctioned off after the game. Proceeds from the jersey auction will go to Fluor’s Golf for Greenville event, which will take place on April 27 and will benefit a wealth of organizations throughout the Upstate.

The next night, it’s Nickelodeon Night. PAW Patrol is the theme of the night, and the specialty jerseys the team will wear that night will be auctioned off after the game. It’s also a Pucks N Paws Night, and furry friends get in free with a paid ticket.