By KP Kelly, Staff Writer
The forsaken PNC Arena will have cobwebs dusted from under the seats and tumbleweeds removed from the concourse for the first-ever AHL game played in the home of the Carolina Hurricanes. Yes, I realize other events occur at PNC, but I’m going for a dramatic effect here.
The Charlotte Checkers bring their winning team to the City of Oaks on Sunday to face the Norfolk Admirals. Charlotte currently sits victorious in the South Division of the AHL Western Conference. Justin Peters made 23 saves on Friday against the Lake Erie Monsters to earn his third shutout of the season. Zac Dalpe had two goals, Riley Nash tallied three points (1g, 2a), and Tim Wallace collected the last goal to win 4-0.
The Norfolk Admirals are no strangers to winning big as well. You may remember they set a North American professional hockey record by winning 28 consecutive games in the regular season. They went 15-3 in the playoffs, including a sweep in their final two rounds. They were crowned AHL Champions, and then quickly lost their NHL affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightening. Congratulations. The (completely revamped) team was later adopted by the Anaheim Ducks. Their 14-16-1-0 record places them second to last in the Eastern Conference. However, don’t assume this will be an easy win. The Ads seem to surprise Charlotte often.
Players to Watch…
Zach Boychuk is a familiar face to Caniacs and he is having a terrific season. He has earned 15 goals (including 7 power play goals) and 16 helpers over 35 games.
Justin Faulk was a star rookie for the Canes last year. The defenseman continues to excel with 24 points (5g, 19a) in 30 contests this season. He is simply bound for a tremendous career.
Drayson Bowman has also punched his timecard in Raleigh and continues to thrive in Charlotte with 14 goals (including 6 power play goals) and 7 assists over a span of 35 games. Bowman also holds the longest point streak record in the league with his 10 points (9g, 1a) earned from October 19th to November 4th.
Zac Dalpe has played in one less game than Bowman, although matches him with 21 points (10g, 11a).
Sutter, Sanguinetti, Terry, Nash…the list could go on and on. Charlotte boasts a roster of ridiculous talent and Caniacs are going to be in for a treat on Sunday. The puck drops at 1:30pm, but be sure to show up early for some classic tailgating!
Professional hockey in Raleigh…it looks like Christmas came a little late this year and that’s ok!
Let’s Go Checkers!