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Weekly Report: Dec. 16, 2013

Nicolas Blanchard
The Checkers are coming off their best week of the season, winning all three games against San Antonio and Norfolk as their season-long home stand draws to a close.

All three wins, which make up the team’s longest streak of the season, came by a single goal. All three of those goals were late winners, with Justin Shugg scoring with six minutes left to beat the Rampage on Tuesday, Keegan Lowe and Chris Terry scoring to erase a 2-1 deficit with just 70 seconds remaining in Thursday’s rematch and Aaron Palushaj netting the overtime winner against Norfolk on Sunday. John Muse picked up all three victories in goal.

Now just four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Checkers look to head into a five-day holiday break on a high note as they host an upcoming three-in-three against Norfolk and Toronto starting Thursday.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    11-14-1
  • Home record
    6-9-0
  • Road record
    5-5-1
  • Last week's record
    3-0-0
  • Last 10 games
    6-4-0
  • Division Standings
    5th
  • Conference Standings
    13th
  • League Standings
    26th

Checkers 2, San Antonio 1

After the referee disallowed Zach Boychuk’s goal with six minutes remaining due to goaltender interference, Justin Shugg scored on the same power play to give the Checkers a 2-1 victory over the visiting San Antonio Rampage on Tuesday. The game’s other goals came less than a minute apart in the second period, with Chris Terry canceling out Eric Selleck’s opening goal for the Rampage. John Muse made 26 saves as the Checkers improved to 1-1-0 against their West Division opponent this season. Full recap

Checkers 3, San Antonio 2

Defenseman Keegan Lowe tied the game with 1:10 remaining in regulation and Chris Terry netted the winner with 7.3 seconds on the clock as the Checkers came back to defeat the San Antonio Rampage by a 3-2 score on Thursday. The two-game sweep of San Antonio marked just the second time the Checkers had won consecutive games this season and first time in over two months. Zach Boychuk tied the game at 1-1 with his league-leading eighth power-play goal of the season for the Checkers, who saw referees disallow a goal by Michal Jordan that would have tied the game a few minutes prior to their late flurry. John Muse made 25 saves to pick up his seventh victory of the season. Full recap

Checkers 4, Norfolk 3 (OT)

Despite losing leads of 2-0 and 3-2 against the visiting Norfolk Admirals, who were playing for the third time in three nights, the Checkers extended their winning streak to a season-high three games with a 4-3 victory on Sunday. Aaron Palushaj netted the winner in overtime, with Beau Schmitz, Zach Boychuk and Justin Shugg also scoring for Charlotte. Goalie John Muse set a personal season high with 36 saves to extend his winning streak to five games in his third straight start. Full recap

Notables

Austin Levi
  • After an injury to Danny Biega, the Checkers recalled rookie Austin Levi from ECHL Florida on Saturday. More info

Last Week's News

Winning Streak

Prior to winning each of their last three games, a season high, the Checkers not won two in a row since the season's opening weekend in Oklahoma City on Oct. 4 and 5. Meanwhile, their three-game streak at home is their longest since Dec. 21-Jan. 16 of last season, with one of those games taking place at Raleigh's PNC Arena.

If the Checkers are able to extend their streak to four games with another victory over Norfolk on Thursday, it would mark the team's longest since posting a franchise-record, six-game streak from Jan. 4-16 of last season. The Checkers have not won four in a row at home in over two years (Nov. 20-30, 2011), one of two four-game streaks that set a franchise record.

Power Players

The Checkers, who rank third in the AHL with a 24.0 percent success rate on the power play, have scored at least one man-advantage goal in each of their last seven games (9-for-27; 33.3 percent). That marks the longest streak they have posted this season and longest since the 2012-13 team scored power-play goals in each of its first eight games (15-for-41; 36.6 percent).

The Checkers have scored 43.5 percent of their goals on the power play this season (30 of 69), which is the highest percentage of any AHL team. Lake Erie has the next-highest percentage at 38.9. The Checkers are 1-6-0 when they do not score a power-play goal.

Winning with Muse

John Muse has won each of his last five games dating back to Nov. 30, which marks the longest streak by a Checkers goalie since Justin Peters did the same from Oct. 28 to Nov. 18 of last season. Muse's streak also ties his AHL career high, which he set by winning his first five Checkers games from Dec. 16-Jan. 26 of the 2011-12 campaign. Current teammate Mike Murphy holds the team's all-time record with a pair of six-game streaks set during the 2010-11 season.

Since joining the Checkers on a tryout contract on Oct. 23, Muse has been in goal for all nine of the Checkers' wins. He ranks 11th in the AHL with a 2.29 goals-against average, is tied for 10th with a .922 save percentage and is tied for second with two shutouts. The other six goalies the team has used this season - Murphy, Justin Peters, Jesse Deckert, Allen York, Rick DiPietro and Rob Madore - are a combined 2-8-1 with a 3.74 goals-against average and .865 save percentage.

Boychuk Powers Up

After starting the season with two goals in his first 13 games, forward Zach Boychuk now has nine in his last 13 to take sole possession of the team lead, one more than linemate Chris Terry. He is also the team's points leader with 23 in 26 games, giving him a four-point lead over Terry and Aaron Palushaj.

Eight of Boychuk's 11 goals have come on the power play, marking the most in the AHL, while his 14 power-play points are tied for second. He is the Checkers' all-time leader with 36 power-play goals, at least nine more than any other player, while his 85 career power-play points with Charlotte trail Terry by one.

Mr. 200

With a goal against San Antonio on Dec. 10, Chris Terry became the first player to record 200 points with the Checkers. Terry, who led the team in scoring for two of his three seasons with the club, has 27 more career points than teammate Zach Boychuk, who has second most, and is one of five players to have cleared the 100-point mark with Charlotte (Zac Dalpe, Jerome Samson and Brett Sutter).

Terry, who has nine points (4g, 5a) in 10 games since returning from an NHL stint, is also the Checkers' all-time leader in games played (244), goals (85) and assists (118). Including his rookie season with Albany, he is now just one point shy of 250 for his AHL career.

Floodgates Open

Mark Flood's eight goals rank third on the team and are tied for the second-most among all AHL defensemen, as are his his five power-play goals. His 68 shots on goal rank second on the team behind Zach Boychuk and are the sixth most of all AHL defensemen.

In just 26 games, Flood, 29, already has the third-highest single-season goal total by a Checkers defenseman behind Bobby Sanguinetti (10 in 2011-12) and Bryan Rodney (nine in 2010-11). He is also just three away from his AHL career high of 11 set with Manitoba during the 2010-11 campaign. Flood scored just one goal in 52 games in the Russian KHL last season.

Home Again

The Checkers' current 10-game home stand ties the longest in franchise history, a record originally set from Nov. 25-Dec. 15 of last season. Dating back to Nov. 7, the Checkers are in the midst of a stretch in which they play 16 of 19 games at Time Warner Cable Arena. After starting the season 0-6-0 on home ice, the Checkers have won six of nine in their own building.

Divided Division

In 26 games, the Checkers have played against their own division, the West, just five times (4-1-0), marking the fewest games that any AHL team has played within its own division. They will not play another divisional game until facing Texas on Jan. 2, which marks the start of a run in which they will play eight of nine games against divisional opponents. The West Division is the only division that the Checkers have a winning record against.

Quick Hits

  • Five of the Checkers' last six games have been decided by one goal. They are 4-1-0 in those games.
  • The Checkers have won each of their last two overtime games, both during the five minute, four-on-four period, improving to 2-1 this season.
  • Charlotte's three overtime games are tied for the fewest in the league, as is its lone shootout appearance.
  • The Checkers' five shorthanded goals allowed are tied for the fifth-most in the AHL
  • Charlotte is one of three teams that have yet to score a shorthanded goal
  • Matt Corrente ranks tied for fourth among all AHL defensemen with five major penalties
  • Charlotte has both scored (26) and allowed (31) more goals in the third period than in any other period

Player Streaks

  • John Muse has won each of his last five starts (Nov. 30-Dec. 15)
  • Aaron Palushaj has points in each of his last three games (Dec. 10-15: 1g, 4a)
  • Zach Boychuk has goals and points in each of his last two games (Dec. 12-15: 2g, 2a)
  • Brett Sutter has assists and points in each of his last two games (Dec. 12-15: 0g, 2a)

Milestones

  • Philippe Cornet recorded his 100th AHL point with an assist on Dec. 15
  • Chris Terry is one point away from 250 AHL points
  • Nicolas Blanchard is two goals away from 25 Checkers goals

Injuries

  • Sean Dolan - missed six games starting Dec. 1
  • Jared Staal - missed five games starting Dec. 5
  • Rasmus Rissanen - missed three games starting Dec. 10
  • Danny Biega - missed one game starting Dec. 15

Transactions

Incoming

  • Dec. 14 - (D) Austin Levi recalled to Charlotte from Florida (ECHL)

Outgoing

  • none

Coming Up

Thursday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Norfolk

Bud LightHendrick AcuraHarris Teeter
  • Thirsty Thursday - $1 Bud Light draughts
  • College Night presented by Hendrick Acura - discounted tickets with valid college email address. Click here to purchase.
  • Teacher Appreciation Night
  • Cheesy Holiday Sweater Night
  • Harris Teeter VIC Card Thursday - show your VIC card to get $5 off any regular-price ticket

Friday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Toronto

Piedmont Natural Gas
  • Piedmont Natural Gas Share the Warmth Night - earmuff giveaway to the first 2,500 fans. Sign up for the Share the Warmth program and receive a complimentary ticket to a future Checkers game.

Saturday, Dec. 21 at 12 p.m. - Checkers vs. Toronto

  • Charlotte Bobcats doubleheader

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 24.0% 3rd 23.0% (5th)
Penalty kill 78.9% 25th 79.4% (24th)
Goals per game 2.65 20th 2.61 (25th)
Shots per game 30.1 13th 30.5 (10th)
Goals allowed per game 3.08 19th 3.22 (24th)
Shots allowed per game 29.9 t-15th 29.8 (14th)
Penalty minutes per game 15.1 8th 16.4 (12th)
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Zach Boychuk (23), Aaron Palushaj, Chris Terry (19), Mark Flood, Victor Rask (15)
Goals Zach Boychuk (11), Chris Terry (10), Mark Flood (8)
Assists Zach Boychuk, Aaron Palushaj (12), Victor Rask (10), Brett Sutter, Chris Terry (9)
Power play goals Zach Boychuk (8), Mark Flood (5), Chris Terry (4)
Shorthanded goals none
Game-winning goals Aaron Palushaj (3), Justin Shugg, Brody Sutter, Chris Terry (2)
Shots on goal Zach Boychuk (69), Mark Flood (68), Chris Terry (65)
Penalty minutes Nicolas Blanchard (60), Matt Corrente (51), Rasmus Rissanen (43)
Plus/minus A.J. Jenks, Brendan Woods (+1), Justin Shugg, Brody Sutter (0)
Wins John Muse (9), Mike Murphy, Justin Peters (1)
Goals-against average John Muse (2.29), Mike Murphy (3.89), Rick DiPietro (5.18)
Save percentage John Muse (.922), Mike Murphy (.866), Rick DiPietro (.846)

Checkers in the NHL

Carolina Hurricanes (14-13-7: 3rd Metropolitan Division)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Zach Boychuk LW 1 0 1 1 0 1 Reassigned to Charlotte on 12/7
Elias Lindholm C 21 3 4 7 2 -4 Injured 12/12
Manny Malhotra C 22 1 3 4 10 4 2nd on team in plus/minus, 2nd in NHL faceoffs (60.3 percent)
Chris Terry LW 7 0 0 0 0 -3 Reassigned to Charlotte on 11/22
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Justin Peters 17 7-8-2 2.16 .929 1 Started five of last seven games

Checkers in the ECHL

Florida Everblades (18-6-2: 1st Eastern Conference)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Kyle Bonis F 24 12 6 18 9 +10 t-5th ECHL goals
Austin Levi D 23 0 4 4 22 +2 Recalled to Charlotte on 12/14
Stefan Della Rovere F - - - - - - On injured reserve
Kellan Tochkin F 20 4 12 16 24 +8 4a at WHL on 12/14
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Jesse Deckert 9 6-1-2 2.71 .891 0 Injured - out for season
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.