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Weekly Report: Oct. 7, 2013

Brody Sutter
The Checkers couldn’t have asked for a better result from the first two games of the 2013-14 season, taking all four points from a two-game road trip to Oklahoma City last weekend.

Thanks to a pair of 3-2 victories, Charlotte is already off to the best start in its four AHL seasons, having never before started with a record of 2-0-0. They did so with contributions from players both familiar (Zach Boychuk, Brody Sutter and Chris Terry all scored one goal, while goalies Mike Murphy and Justin Peters each picked up wins) and new (forward Aaron Palushaj leads the team with three points, defenseman Mark Flood leads the team with two goals).

It will be a long time until the Checkers can attempt to continue their forward momentum, as they do not play again until the home opener against Iowa on Saturday, Oct. 19, marking the longest break between games in team history.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    2-0-0
  • Home record
    0-0-0
  • Road record
    2-0-0
  • Last week's record
    2-0-0
  • Last 10 games
    2-0-0
  • Division Standings
    1st
  • Conference Standings
    1st
  • League Standings
    1st

Checkers 3, Oklahoma City 2

Brody Sutter scored the game-winning goal with just over five minutes remaining in regulation to give the Checkers a 3-2 win in their first game of the regular season at Oklahoma City on Friday. Charlotte had started out strong with Chris Terry scoring on the team's first shot of the season less than a minute into the first period, with Mark Flood becoming the first defenseman to score in his Checkers debut 10 minutes later before the Barons tied things up early in the third period. Justin Peters made 32 saves to earn the victory. Full recap

Checkers 3, Oklahoma City 2

The Checkers topped the Barons by a 3-2 score for the second time in as many nights to improve their record to 2-0-0 for the first time in their four AHL seasons. Newcomer Aaron Palushaj led the way with three points (1g, 2a), with Zach Boychuk and Mark Flood also finding the back of the net as the Checkers again scored the game's first two goals. Goalie Mike Murphy earned the win with a 22-save effort. Full recap

Notables

Flying Start

Prior to winning each of their first two regular-season games in Oklahoma City over the weekend, the Checkers had never gotten off to a 2-0-0 start since joining the AHL for the 2010-11 season. Last year's team came just short of that mark, dropping its second game of the season in a shootout en route to a four-game point streak (3-0-1).

Of the 15 teams that have already played two or more games, the Checkers are one of just two (Toronto) to start with two victories. Charlotte is the only team with two road wins.

Sutter Finds Scoring

After scoring six points (4g, 2a) in his first 27 AHL games dating back to the end of the 2011-12 season, Checkers center Brody Sutter now has six (3g, 3a) in his last seven, all against the Oklahoma City Barons. That stretch of games dates back to Game 1 of the 2013 playoffs, when he recorded his first multi-goal game as a professional, including the overtime winner. Three of his seven career AHL goals, including playoffs, were game winners.

Welcome to the Club

With his first-period goal on Friday, defenseman Mark Flood became the first defenseman to ever score a goal in his Checkers debut. He then extended that streak, scoring for the second time in as many games on Friday to lead the team in goals and shots on goal (eight) through the season's first weekend. Through the season's opening weekend, he is tied for fifth among all AHL players and tied for second among defensemen in goals. He is also one of four players with an active two-game goal streak.

Flood, who scored a career-high 40 points (11g, 29a) in 60 games over his last full AHL season with Manitoba in 2010-11, led all Checkers defensemen and tied for first on the team in scoring during the preseason with three points (3a) in two games. Friday was Flood's first AHL game since Nov. 1, 2011, as he spent the remainder of that season in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets and all of last season in the KHL with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

Been a Long Time

Checkers center Manny Malhotra, a 33-year-old veteran of 864 NHL games with the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks, on Friday played his first AHL game since suiting up for Hartford in the 2000-01 season. Malhotra, the seventh overall pick in the 1998 NHL draft who has 17 points (6g, 11a) in 41 career AHL games, signed a 25-game professional tryout contract with the Checkers on Thursday.

Original Checkers

Five players who were in the lineup for the Checkers' first-ever AHL game at Connecticut on Oct. 9, 2010, also played in the team's first game of the 2013-14 season on Friday. They are: forwards Nicolas Blanchard, Zach Boychuk, Jared Staal and Chris Terry and defenseman Michal Jordan. Along with that group, goalie Mike Murphy, who backed up Friday but played Saturday, and defenseman Rasmus Rissanen, who made his professional debut in April of 2011, are the only seven players to have played for the Checkers in each of the team's four seasons.

New Faces

Six players - forwards Adam Brace, Manny Malhotra, Aaron Palushaj and defensemen Matt Corrente, Mark Flood and Keegan Lowe - made their Checkers debuts over the weekend. It was also the AHL debut for Brace and Lowe and the professional debut for Lowe.

The Checkers used five rookies over the weekend - Brace, Lowe, forwards Victor Rask and Brendan Woods and defenseman Danny Biega.

Long Break

The Checkers are in the midst of a 14-day break between their last game in Oklahoma City on Saturday and their home opener against the Iowa Wild at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday, Oct. 19. That marks the longest time between games this season and in the team's AHL history, besting a 10-day holiday hiatus from Dec. 20-30, 2011.

Quickly

  • Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen leads all AHL defensemen and is in a five-way tie for first in the AHL with a plus-4 plus/minus rating (+2 in each game).
  • Defenseman Matt Corrente is tied for third among AHL defenseman and tied for first among Checkers skaters with two assists in two games. He also ranks tied for second on the Checkers in total points (two), is second in plus/minus (+3) and is tied for second in penalty minutes (six).

Player Streaks

  • Mark Flood has goals and points in each of his last two games (Oct. 4-5; 2g, 0a)
  • Matt Corrente has assists and points in each of his last two games (Oct. 4-5; 0g, 2a)
  • Chris Terry has points in each of his last two games (Oct. 4-5; 1g, 1a)

Transactions

Outgoing

  • Oct. 7 - (RW) Kyle Bonis assigned to Florida (ECHL) from Charlotte
  • Oct. 7 - (LW) Stefan Della Rovere assigned to Florida (ECHL) from Charlotte

Coming Up

Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Iowa

Novant Health
  • Schedule magnet giveaway courtesy of Novant Health
  • T-shirt giveaway

Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m. - Checkers vs. Iowa

North Carolina Zoo AsheboroCoke Zero
  • Halloween Day - wear your costume
  • Postgame skate with the Checkers presented by U.S. National Whitewater Center
  • NC Zoo Asheboro coupon giveaway
  • Coke Family Four Packs - four tickets, four hot dogs and four Cokes for $65

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 11.1% 18th N/A
Penalty kill 75.0% t-18th N/A
Goals per game 3.00 t-9th N/A
Shots per game 29.0 t-14th N/A
Goals allowed per game 2.00 t-8th N/A
Shots allowed per game 29.0 t-16th N/A
Penalty minutes per game 14.0 t-12th N/A
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Aaron Palushaj (3), Mark Flood, Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry, Matthew Corrente (2)
Goals Mark Flood (2), Aaron Palushaj, Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry, Brody Sutter (1)
Assists Aaron Palushaj, Matt Corrente (2), Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry, Sean Dolan, Victor Rask, Rasmus Rissanen (1)
Power play goals Mark Flood (1)
Shorthanded goals none
Game-winning goals Brody Sutter, Aaron Palushaj (1)
Shots on goal Mark Flood (8), Victor Rask (6), Sean Dolan, Chris Terry (5)
Penalty minutes Keegan Lowe (9), Matt Corrente, Rasmus Rissanen (6), Nicolas Blanchard (5)
Plus/minus Rasmus Rissanen (+4), Matt Corrente (+3), Aaron Palushaj, Zach Boychuk, Victor Rask (+2)
Wins Justin Peters (1), Mike Murphy (1)
Goals-against average Justin Peters, Mike Murphy (2.00)
Save percentage Justin Peters (.941), Mike Murphy (.917)