Though the Checkers won’t have Chris Terry for the first two games of their upcoming road trip, they didn’t seem to find the development all that surprising.
Charlotte coach Jeff Daniels said that he was aware that the AHL was reviewing Terry’s collision with Grand Rapids goaltender Joey MacDonald from last Saturday’s road victory, and that he more or less agreed with the decision to suspend the team’s third-leading scorer
“I knew that they were reviewing it, and I expected a suspension,” said Daniels. “He was going hard to the net and trying to make a play, but he had to make more of an effort to avoid the goaltender.”
While disappointed with to be sitting out the first game of his professional career, Terry, who had only received three major penalties, all for fighting, in his first 173 games, said that he understood why.
“I was more worried about the guy coming in from behind me and got a little bit of a push,” said Terry, referring to Griffins’ forward Tomas Tatar, who was backchecking on the play. “I think there was going to be contact no matter what, but I maybe could have lessened the blow.”
MacDonald suffered a concussion on the play and is out indefinitely. Terry is expected to play Sunday in Houston as the team completes its season-long run of nine consecutive road games.
Terry’s suspension will end his run as owner of the AHL’s longest active ironman streak. Though he was unaware that he was the current league leader, Terry, who had played his last 178 consecutive games of junior hockey to predate his AHL streak, knew of his perfect attendance record.
“It’s tough,” he said. “It will be my first time missing a pro game so I don’t know what it will be like, but I know I don’t like it.”
Daniels said that it would essentially take a committee to replace Terry, who is a mainstay on the power play and penalty kill in addition to his regular spot on a scoring line.
“A lot of other guys will get more of an opportunity, because he does everything for us,” said Daniels. “I know he’s frustrated that he’s not scoring at the same pace as last year, but he’s become much more of a complete player and helps us out a lot even when the numbers don’t show it.”
At even strength, rookie Justin Shugg will step into the lineup now that he’s recovered from the odd practice injury that kept him from playing the team’s last three games.
“It was a one-on-one play and Sangs (defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti) went to poke-check the puck away from me but got my skate instead,” recalled Shugg. “I must have been taking too much yoga in the summer, because my skate came right back up and cut me in the thigh.
“It was a freak accident, and I’m lucky to have recovered so quickly.”
The 19-year-old Shugg, who was the reigning Player of the Week in the ECHL at the time of his recall to the Checkers nearly two weeks ago, returned to practice this week and admitted to feeling a little sore, but said that he is otherwise good to go.
“He seems fine, so we’ll take him on the trip,” said Daniels.
Shugg, who had 8 points (3g, 5a) in five games with the Florida Everblades at the time of his recall, was held scoreless in his first three career AHL games from Oct. 28-30, recording one shot on goal.
“I tried to play simple hockey, and I’m just trying to get to know my linemates and get them to trust that I can play at this level,” he said.
On Wednesday, Shugg was skating on a line with Checkers captain Brett Sutter and veteran winger Nicolas Blanchard. Recent ECHL recall Scott Pitt was the biggest beneficiary of the new groupings, moving up with leading scorers Jon Matsumoto and Jerome Samson. Full lines can be found below.
The Checkers are in the midst of a nine-game road swing and will return to Charlotte Friday, Nov. 18 to host the Rockford IceHogs for a two-game set. Friday's game is presented by the Marines and the Checkers will wear special black jerseys, courtesy of Amtrak.