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Carolina Recalls Zach Boychuk; Checkers Sign Matt Pistilli

Zach Boychuk
Zach Boychuk’sgoal-scoring surge has earned him another opportunity with Carolina, and the Checkers have once again turned to a former player to replace him.

Though he broke the news himself via Twitter on Thursday night, the Hurricanes made Boychuk’s recall to the NHL official on Friday morning, prior to their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins that night. It will mark Boychuk’s second recall of the season, having earned an assist against San Jose during a brief one-game trip on Dec. 6.

With that transaction leaving the Checkers a player short for tonight’s game against Milwaukee, the start of a three-game road trip, Charlotte has signed ex-Checker Matthew Pistilli, the ECHL’s current scoring leader with 36 points (16g, 20a) in 28 games, to a professional tryout contract.

After a slow start to the season in regards to goal scoring, Boychuk, 24, has 12 in his last 16 games, giving him more than any other AHL player since Nov. 14. He leads the Checkers in goals (14) and points (27) in 29 games played over the course of his fifth professional season.

Boychuk, recalled to replace Jiri Tlusty following the Carolina forwards's recent appendectomy, could offer a potential solution to a power play that has struggled for most of the season, leading to its current ranking of 27th in the NHL at 13.4 percent. Boychuk leads the AHL with 10 power-play goals, which tie his career high and are just two short of the Checkers’ single-season record, and is tied for first in the league with 16 power-play points.

With Boychuk in the lineup, the Checkers rank third in the AHL with a 23.9 percent success rate on the man advantage and have scored at least one power-play goal in each of their last 10 games, setting a new franchise record.

Boychuk, the Hurricanes’ first-round pick (14th overall) in 2008 who nearly left to play in Europe last summer, has played a total of 86 NHL games with Carolina, Pittsburgh and Nashville, scoring 21 points (8g, 13a). Along with Manny Malhotra and Checkers linemate Chris Terry, he is one of three forwards to earn calls to Carolina after starting this season with Charlotte.

The circumstances of Boychuk’s trip to the NHL (Tlusty is expected to miss two-to-three weeks) suggests that the Checkers could be without him for longer than his last recall, which did not cause him to miss any AHL games. That makes it possible that Pistilli, who has played 126 total games with the Checkers over the last three seasons, could be in the lineup for longer than tonight as forwards Sean Dolan and Jared Staal and defensemen Danny Biega and Rasmus Rissanen continue to deal with injuries.

Should he play tonight as expected, Pistilli, a 25-year-old originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Carolina in 2009, would become the eighth player to play for the Checkers in all four of their AHL seasons, joining Nicolas Blanchard, Zach Boychuk, Michal Jordan, Mike Murphy, Chris Terry, Staal and Rissanen. He is the fourth former Checker to rejoin the team on a PTO this season, joining A.J. Jenks, John Muse and Rob Madore.

In 167 career AHL games in Carolina’s system with Albany and Charlotte, Pistilli (6-foot-2, 219 pounds) scored 52 points (25g, 27a). He achieved career highs with 12 goals, 13 assists and 25 points over the course of his last full season with Charlotte in 2011-12.

Since the Hurricanes chose not to qualify him as a restricted free agent following that season, Pistilli has played a total of 102 ECHL games with South Carolina and Florida, scoring 110 points (41g, 69a). He has appeared in three AHL games during that time, all of which came during a scoreless stint with Charlotte at the end of last season’s NHL lockout.
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.