March 02, 2012 8:46 AM
For the first time in three months, the Checkers’ starting goalie tandem is intact.
With Brian Boucher healthy again, the Carolina Hurricanes reassigned Justin Peters to Charlotte on Friday. Since Boucher initially succumbed to a lower-body injury in early December, one of Peters or Mike Murphy, and occasionally both, had been on the NHL roster.
The transaction marks the first time that both Murphy and Peters, who the Checkers viewed as co-starters to begin the season, have been with the Checkers at the same time since Dec. 6. Due to a now-healed injury to Murphy, neither goaltender has appeared in game action for Charlotte since Murphy’s last start on Jan. 21.
"They'll both play," said Daniels, referring to this weekends' back-to-back set in Lake Erie that begins Saturday. "Murphy hasn't played in a while so we need to get him in a game, and at the same time Peters was in a stretch where he was playing a lot and we want to keep that going."
Since Peters and Murphy both left the lineup for various reasons, rookie John Muse, a recall from the ECHL’s Florida Everblades, had seen the bulk of the starts, posting a record of 10-3-2 with a sterling 1.81 goals-against average, .941 save percentage and two shutouts. To make room for Peters, the Checkers reassigned him to Florida on Friday.
"It's part of pro hockey, but it was tough to give him the news that he was going down and then tell him that he was playing great," said Daniels. "He handled it well, just like he did the whole time he was with us. He was very professional."
Despite losing both of their starters for over a month, the Checkers were able to hold on to their division lead, which is not something many AHL teams could say.
"That's a credit to Muser and how he played," said Daniels. "He won some big games for us."
Peters, the reigning AHL Goaltender of the Month at the time of his December recall to Carolina, played seven games for the Hurricanes, going 2-3-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and his first NHL shutout against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 20. Five of those games came since Feb. 17, when an injury to Cam Ward thrust Peters into a starting role. The Hurricanes earned a point in all four of Peters’ February starts, winning two games and losing the next two by way of shootout.
The return of Peters means that Boucher will not be joining the Checkers on a conditioning stint, something Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller listed as a possibility earlier in the week.
CHECKERS SIGN GENTILE
The Checkers made an additional transaction on Friday, signing defenseman Brandon Gentile to a professional tryout contract. The move was needed to give the team six healthy defenseman, with Justin Krueger, Chris Murray and Rasmus Rissanen all out for this weekend due to injury.
Gentile, a 24-year-old Michigan State product who started the season with the ECHL's Alaska Aces, comes straight to Charlotte from a separate tryout contract with the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
"Bridgeport had defenseman come back and they were going to release him, but his coach had nothing but good things to say about him," said Daniels. "He's probably more defensive and will keep things simple, which is what we were looking for."
In 15 games with Bridgeport, Gentile, who checks in at an even 6 feet and 196 pounds, recorded 5 points (1g, 4a). He is in his third full professional season, having also played for the IHL Flint Generals during his rookie season of 2009-10.
Gentile was paired with Bobby Sanguinetti at Friday's practice.