CHARLOTTE, NC— The Charlotte Checkers have added more AHL experience, toughness and scoring by agreeing to terms with forwards Derek Couture and Kenny Roche, head coach and general manager Derek Wilkinson announced Tuesday.
Couture, 25, joins the Checkers after splitting time last season between the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League, Elmira Jackals of the ECHL and Alba Volan of the Austrian Hockey League. In 21 games with Elmira, the gritty right-winger posted six goals, 14 assists and 53 penalty minutes. He then chipped in with four points in seven playoff games while racking up 37 minutes in penalties.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound native of Calgary, Alberta had his dream come true when he was signed to an NHL contract by his hometown Calgary Flames in 2005. He spent the next three seasons with the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights and Quad City Flames, Calgary’s AHL affiliates. In 188 games, he notched 20 goals, 26 assists and amassed 293 penalty minutes.
“Derek adds some much-needed toughness to our forward group,” said Wilkinson. “Not only will he deal out punishment to the opposing teams, he has also shown a nice scoring touch.”
Prior to being signed by the Flames, Couture spent five years in juniors with the Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades and Seattle Thunderbirds. In 254 games, he tallied 48 goals, 58 assists and collected 578 penalty minutes.
Couture will attend training camp with the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL this month.
Roche, 25, spent all of last season overseas with the Lausitzer Foxes of the German Second League. In 40 games, he tallied 14 goals and added 14 assists. In 2007-08, the native of South Boston, Mass. split the season between the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters and the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs. In 27 games with the Chiefs, he scored five goals and added 16 assists, good for 21 points. In 32 games with the Monsters, Roche chipped in with six points.
The 6-foot, 205-pound winger was a third-round pick of the New York Rangers in the 2003 NHL Draft before completing a four-year collegiate career with Boston University. At BU, he was a teammate of recent Checkers signee Kevin Schaeffer and helped the Terriers capture three Beanpot Tournament Championships.
“I am very excited to get this season underway,” stated Roche. “We have a solid team signed so far and I am looking forward to a great year.”
With Couture and Roche added, the Checkers’ roster now has 16 players.
The Checkers’ schedule is now available and they are getting ready for their 17th season of play as a member of the ECHL and 16th as an affiliate of the New York Rangers. In the team’s 16-year history, the Checkers have made the playoffs 12 times including five consecutive playoff appearances to date. Season tickets are on sale now. For season ticket information, please call 704-342-4-ICE or visit www.gocheckers.com.