With the current lockout of National Hockey League (NHL) players by team owners still ongoing, and to some never-ending, the only professional hockey being played in North Carolina is by the Carolina Hurricanes’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate club, the Charlotte Checkers.
The team has been busy running training camp and playing preseason games in preparation for its upcoming regular season opener.
Just having hockey available is getting area fans excited to watch professional hockey again around the state somewhere and anywhere.
Earlier in the week, Tera Black, Chief Operating Officer of the Checkers, announced that tickets for one Checkers regular season game, scheduled against the Norfolk Admirals on Jan. 6, will be played at PNC Arena, the Hurricanes’ home arena, and not at the the Checkers’ home rink,Time Warner Cable arena in Charlotte.
Poke checks and slap shots
Scheduling a Checkers home game outside of the Queen City is a great move to give the AHL team more exposure in the Raleigh area, particularly with many Hurricanes fans devoid of any pro hockey to watch at the moment.
Hurricanes fans are familiar with many players on the Checkers roster as many have had varied stints up with the big club during the past few years.
With the NHL regular season already cancelled through Oct. 24 due to the lockout, and as each page of the calendar turns, one would wonder if more AHL games will be scheduled in the venue in the near future.
Only time and the lack of agreement in negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) will tell.
Personnel moves in Charlotte
The team recently assigned forwards Justin Shugg and Brody Sutter, defensemen Tommi Kivisto and Beau Schmitz, and goaltender John Muse to the team’s East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) affiliate, the Florida Everblades.
Additional player moves included defenseman Austin Levi returning to play with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) while forward Leigh Salters was released from his tryout contract, but will report to Florida.
With the current roster sitting at 24 players, the Checkers begin their regular season on Saturday in Houston and begin a nine-game road trip before returning to Charlotte for their home opener on Sun., Nov. 4.
Preseason game notes
Charlotte 4, Norfolk 3
The Checkers survived a late charge by Norfolk to earn a 4-3 victory against the Admirals at Chilled Ponds Sports Complex on Oct. 7.
Tim Wallace, Tommi Kivisto, Zach Boychuk and Victor Rask scored for the Checkers while goaltenders Dan Ellis and John Muse both had playing time in the winning effort.
Ellis, making his only appearance of the preseason, stopped all 20 shots he faced before giving way to Muse, who allowed three goals on 15 shots.
The win avenged a 3-0 loss the previous night against the Admirals that marked both teams’ first exhibition contest of the season.
How to stay in touch
ESPN 730 is the Checkers’ flagship radio and online station for 2012-13.
All regular season and playoff games are available at ESPN730.com through the “listen live” stream and through the TuneIn Radio app for smartphones and tablets.
More than 40 games will be broadcast on the radio (AM 730) and all broadcasts include a 15-minute pregame show prior to puck drop.
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