Charlotte’s division rivals, the Hershey Bears, had a productive year and concluded their regular season just three points ahead of the Checkers to claim the second seed in the East Division. These teams kickoff the semi-finals at the Giant Center On Thursday, April 14th then Sunday, April 17th before heading to Charlotte.
However, don’t delude yourself in thinking the Bears are an easily defeated team. This is their sixth consecutive Calder Cup pursuit. The Pennsylvania team has celebrated three Cup wins as well.
The boys in chocolate and white boast five leading AHL players. Goaltender Braden Holtby ranks eighth in the top twenty goalies with a 0.920 save percentage. Holtby also went 9-2-2 in 13 games for the Washington Capitals this season.
Keith Aucoin, Brian Willsie, Kyle Greentree, and Andrew Gordon are all fierce producers for the Bears. Aucoin racked 72 points in 53 games and ranks third in the AHL in 54 assists. Zach Boychuk also makes the top twenty with 43 helpers.
Brian Willsie and Kyle Greentree each generated 30 goals each in the regular season. Checkers’ Chris Terry ranks third in the league with 34 goals. Willsie also ranks seventh in power play goals (14). Right winger Andrew Gordon turned out 28 points in 50 contests, also including 14 power play goals. Jacob MicFlikier is only two extra-man goals short of that statistics.
These East Division teams are equally matched (Checkers 44-27-2-7, Bears 46-26-3-5). It should prove an exciting playoff round. Watch for the Cardiac Check pre-game post on Wednesday.