The Charlotte Checkers, AHL affiliate for the Carolina Hurricanes, are finally gearing up for a game in front of their hometown fans after a grueling nine-game road trip that had them playing three consecutive “three-in-threes” over the past three weekends. While the team was able to return to Charlotte after each weekend set, their Western Conference tour took them to 6 different cities, playing back to back in the same city only once.
Despite the brutal travel schedule and despite missing some key players due to injuries and call-ups, the Checkers came through the stretch with a very respectable 5-4-0 record. Here’s a look back at the longest road swing in Checkers’ history.
28Oct2011 – Charlotte Checkers 2, Oklahoma City Barons 1
Kicking off the road trip without captain Brett Sutter and then leading goal scorer Zach Boychuk who were both recalled to the Hurricanes, the Checkers went into Oklahoma City to face off against the red-hot Barons. Jerome Samson opened up the scoring for the Checkers in the first period, converting off a pass from Chris Durno. The assist marked Durno’s first point as a Checker. The Barons tied the game at 1-1 on a fluky deflection past goaltender Mike Murphy early in the second. With the game seemingly headed into overtime, Matt Pistilli took advantage of a late powerplay, deflecting a Bobby Sanguinetti shot past Baron goaltender Yann Danis with just 44 seconds remaining in regulation to secure the win for the Checkers. Murphy finished the game with 22 saves to earn his third straight win.
29Oct2011 – Charlotte Checkers 4, San Antonio Rampage 1
After losing Cedric McNicoll to an injury the night before, the Checkers received a boost in San Antonio from the newly reassigned Brett Sutter. The captain kicked off the Checkers’ scoring with a shorthanded marker midway through the first period, tying the game at one a piece. Chris Terry would add two goals, his first two of the season, and Drayson Bowman would cap things off with his team leading fifth of the year. With Justin Peters still out with an injury, Mike Murphy got the start and the win, making 36 saves and extending his win streak to four games.
30Oct2011 – Houston Aeros 5, Charlotte Checkers 3
In a penalty filled game which saw the teams take 11 minor penalties each, the Checkers entered the third period in Houston with a 3-2 lead on goals from Justin Soryal, Jon Matsumoto, and Jerome Samson. The Aeros notched a powerplay tally early in the third to tie the game and added the game winner with just over 2 minutes left in regulation (followed by an empty net goal in the final minute). Mike Murphy, starting his third game in three consecutive nights, had his four game win streak snapped. Top defensive prospect, Justin Faulk grabbed two assists for the first multi-point game of his career.
04Nov2011 – Milwaukee Admirals 3, Charlotte Checkers 1
The Checkers engaged in a special teams battle in Milwaukee and came out on the losing end in part thanks to going 0 for 8 on the powerplay. The Admirals on the other hand cashed in on 3 of their 5 extra-man opportunities en route to their 3-1 win. Chris Durno scored the Checkers lone goal, his first of the season. Jerome Samson picked up the assist, extending his point streak to five games. Goaltender Mike Murphy made his sixth consecutive start for the Checkers, coming up with 24 saves in the loss. The Checkers played without leading goal scorer Drayson Bowman who was recalled to Carolina. Zac Dalpe made his season debut for the Checkers as he was assigned to Charlotte on a conditioning stint. Dalpe was held off the scorers sheet, but looked strong on his skates in his first game back from the lower body injury he suffered when the Hurricanes played Buffalo on 14Oct2011.
05Nov2011 – Charlotte Checkers 2, Grand Rapids Griffins 1
Justin Peters was back in net for the Checkers, starting his first game since suffering a lower body injury against the Aeros on 21Oct2011. The Griffins opened up the scoring late in the first period. Checkers forward Nicolas Blanchard evened up the score in the second with defenseman Justin Faulk adding the game winner on a powerplay later in the second. Jerome Samson’s point streak hit six games with the assist he earned on Faulks’s goal. Peters seemed to pick up where he left off prior to his injury with a strong outing, stopping 26 of Grand Rapids’ 27 shots on goal. The Checkers’ penalty kill redeemed itself from the previous outing, killing off a 5-minute major assessed to Chris Terry for running into Griffins’ goaltender Joey MacDonald. Terry also received a game misconduct for the hit and later, a two game suspension.
06Nov2011 – Charlotte Checkers 4, Rockford Icehogs 2
Jerome Samson continued on his scoring tear, picking up two goals in the Checkers’ 4-2 win and extending his point streak to seven games. With Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman still seeing time with the Carolina Hurricanes, Samson’s two goals moved him into the team lead for goals (7) and points (14). Jared Staal opened the scoring with his first of the season. Defenseman Michal Jordan (1G, 1A) and center Riley Nash (2A) joined Samson with multi-point efforts. Charlotte goaltender Mike Murphy backstopped the win with a 28 save night.
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow which will take a look at the final week of the road trip.
Tags: AHL Bobby Sanguinetti Brett Sutter Carolina Hurricanes Cedric McNicoll Charlotte Checkers Chris Durno Chris Terry Drayson Bowman Grand Rapids Griffins Houston Aeros Jared Staal Jerome Samson Jon Matsumoto Justin Faulk Justin Peters Justin Soryal Matt Pistilli Michal Jordan Mike Murphy Milwaukee Admirals Nicolas Blanchard Oklahoma City Barons Riley Nash Rockford Icehogs San Antonio Rampage Zac Dalpe Zach Boychuk