In a move made to add some defensive depth for a three-in-three weekend, the Checkers recalled Tommi Kivisto on Friday.
The addition of Kivisto from the ECHL’s Florida Everblades gives the team seven defensemen on their trip, with veteran Marc-Andre Gragnani out for the weekend with a lower-body injury. The extra player will cover for Justin Faulk, who the team has protected from playing on three consecutive nights in four previous instances this season.
The Checkers resume their holiday schedule by taking on Houston Friday night before departing to conclude the trip through the South Division against Texas on Saturday and San Antonio on Sunday. Assuming no further injuries since the team’s last game, a win over Peoria on Dec. 21 that extended the team’s point streak to six games, Faulk is likely to sit out one of the three games this weekend, opening the door for Kivisto to enter the lineup.
Kivisto, a 21-year-old native of Finland playing his first professional season in North America, has 13 points (3g, 10a) in 30 games with the Everblades this season. The Carolina Hurricanes’ seventh-round draft pick in 2009 also has 29 penalty minutes to go along with a minus-5 rating.
Kivisto made his AHL debut under similar circumstances on Nov. 18, playing one game in San Antonio as Faulk sat out and Gragnani missed the game to do a separate lower-body concern. Kivisto, who played parts of three previous seasons with Jokerit’s top team in Finland, recorded no points and an even plus/minus rating.
Gragnani, who has been sidelined since scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period in San Antonio on Dec. 16, will have missed 13 of the Checkers’ 33 games by weekend’s end due to a combination of injury and illness. The 25-year-old, named the AHL’s best defenseman while playing for Portland in 2010-11, leads the Checkers and ranks tied for fifth in the league with 10 power-play assists.