Charlotte Checkers
Charlotte Checkers (AHL) logo.svg
CityCharlotte, North Carolina
LeagueAmerican Hockey League
ConferenceEastern
DivisionAtlantic
Founded1990
Home arenaBojangles' Coliseum
ColorsRed, black, silver, white
       
Owner(s)Michael Kahn
General managerGregory Campbell
Head coachGeordie Kinnear
CaptainZac Dalpe
Media
AHL.TV (Internet)
Affiliate(s)Florida Panthers (NHL)
Florida Everblades (ECHL)
Franchise history
1990–1993Capital District Islanders
1993–2010Albany River Rats
2010–presentCharlotte Checkers
Championships
Regular season titles1 (2018–19)
Division titles2 (2018–19, 2021–22)
Conference titles1 (2018–19)
Calder Cups1 (2018–19)
Current uniform
ECA-Uniform-CLT.png
Current season

The Charlotte Checkers are a minor-league professional ice hockey team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the American Hockey League (AHL), and are the top minor league affiliate of the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Checkers play their home games at Bojangles' Coliseum. The current organization is the third team by this name; it succeeded a Checkers franchise that played in the ECHL from 1993 until the end of the 2009–10 ECHL season. The original Checkers team played in the city from 1956 to 1977, originally in the Eastern Hockey League and then in the Southern Hockey League. The franchise is one of six teams to replace and share a name with a predecessor franchise from a lower-tier league; the others are the Bakersfield Condors, Colorado Eagles, Ontario Reign, Rockford IceHogs, and San Diego Gulls.

History

The franchise was originally based in Troy, New York, as the Capital District Islanders from 1990 to 1993. They then became the Albany River Rats from 1993 to 2010, until the River Rats were sold to MAK Hockey, LLC, led by Charlotte beer distributor Michael Kahn, owner of the ECHL Checkers.[1] The new ownership relocated the team to Charlotte for the 2010–11 season, renaming the franchise the "Charlotte Checkers", and relinquished the ECHL franchise to the league.[2][3]

The Checkers are the second North Carolina-based team to play at the highest level of minor-league hockey, following the Carolina Monarchs, who played in Greensboro from 1995 to 1997. The Checkers inherited the River Rats' affiliation with the Carolina Hurricanes, in keeping with a recent trend to have NHL teams' top affiliates geographically close to their parent teams in order to ease movement between the AHL and the NHL.

Playing at the Time Warner Cable Arena, the Checkers' first home game on October 15, 2010, in front of 12,512 spectators which set an attendance record for a hockey game in Charlotte.[4] On February 26, 2011, the attendance record was broken as 12,933 fans watched the Checkers defeat the Connecticut Whale 1–0.[5] Almost a year later, on February 25, 2012, the attendance record was broken yet again as 13,102 fans watched the Checkers fall to the Oklahoma City Barons, 3–2.[6] On April 11, 2015, the attendance record was broken a third time as 13,219 fans watched the last Checkers game at Time Warner Cable Arena, a 2–0 loss to the Rockford IceHogs.[7]

In late 2014, the Checkers announced they would return in the following season to the Bojangles' Coliseum, the home of the previous Checkers teams until 2005.[8] As Kahn detailed, the move would reconnect with said team legacy. Additionally, having a dedicated arena allowed for "greater control over every aspect of our business, including scheduling, amenities, game presentation and sponsorship inventory." To make sure the Coliseum was up to AHL standards, the Charlotte City Council arranged to provide $16 million to fund renovations.[9][10] While Time Warner Cable Arena had been one of the largest arenas in the AHL, it left much to be desired as a hockey venue. It seated 14,100 people, but over 4,000 seats had obstructed views.[11]

Panoramic view of Bojangles' Coliseum for Game 2 of the 2019 Calder Cup Finals, against the Chicago Wolves.
Panoramic view of Bojangles' Coliseum for Game 2 of the 2019 Calder Cup Finals, against the Chicago Wolves.

In Charlotte on May 9 and 10, 2018, in game four of the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs, the Checkers and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms played the longest game in the history of the American Hockey League. A 1–1 tie was broken by a Phantoms' goal at 6:48 of the fifth overtime period, more than six hours after the game began. The Checkers made 95 shots against Lehigh Valley goalie Alex Lyon.[12]

The 2018–19 season was the Checkers' best season as an AHL team to date and one of the best in Charlotte's hockey history. They won their first division title with 110 points and the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy for the league's best regular season record. It was the first time a Charlotte hockey team had broken the 100-point barrier since the SHL Checkers earned 101 points in 1974–75. They defeated the defending champion Toronto Marlies in the Eastern Conference finals to advance to their first Calder Cup final. They defeated the Chicago Wolves in five games to win their first AHL title, and the seventh hockey championship by a Charlotte-based team.[13]

The following 2019–20 season was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Calder Cup was not awarded. Following the cancelled postseason, the Hurricanes ended their affiliation with the Checkers after ten seasons,[14] resulting in the Checkers affiliating with the Florida Panthers beginning with the 2020–21 season. However, due to the ongoing restrictions during the pandemic, the Checkers were one of three teams that opted out of the 2020–21 AHL season.[15] When the Checkers returned for the 2021–22 season, they remained the primary affiliate of the Panthers, but agreed to also serve as the affiliate for the 2021–22 expansion team Seattle Kraken. The Kraken's general manager Ron Francis formerly worked for the Hurricanes when the team was still affiliated with the Checkers.[16]

Season-by-season results

Regular season Playoffs
Season Games Won Lost OTL SOL Points PCT Goals
for
Goals
against
Standing Year Prelims 1st
round
2nd
round
3rd
round
Finals
2010–11 80 44 27 2 7 97 .606 265 243 3rd, East 2011 W, 4–2, HER W, 4–2, WBS L, 0–4, BNG
2011–12 76 38 29 3 6 85 .559 209 214 3rd, Midwest 2012 Did not qualify
2012–13 76 42 26 4 4 92 .605 226 202 2nd, South 2013 L, 2–3, OKC
2013–14 76 37 36 1 2 77 .507 228 241 4th, West 2014 Did not qualify
2014–15 76 31 38 6 1 69 .454 172 231 4th, West 2015 Did not qualify
2015–16 76 36 32 3 5 80 .526 214 229 5th, Central 2016 Did not qualify
2016–17 76 39 29 7 1 86 .566 212 208 4th, Central 2017 L, 2–3, CHI
2017–18 76 46 26 1 3 96 .632 261 212 3rd, Atlantic 2018 W, 3–0, WBS L, 1–4, LV
2018–19 76 51 17 7 1 110 .724 255 189 1st, Atlantic 2019 W, 3–1, PRO W, 4–0, HER W, 4–2, TOR W, 4–1, CHI
2019–20 61 34 22 5 0 73 .598 202 172 3rd, Atlantic 2020 Season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2020–21 Did not participate due to the COVID-19 pandemic 2021 Did not participate
2021–22 72 42 24 5 1 90 .625 234 197 1st, Atlantic 2022 BYE W, 3–1, BRI L, 0–3, SPR

Players

Current roster

Updated August 16, 2022.[17][18]

Team roster
No. Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Contract
United States Riley Bezeau RW R 20 2022 Mansfield, Massachusetts Checkers
12 United States Henry Bowlby C L 25 2021 Edina, Minnesota Panthers
7 Canada Connor Bunnaman C L 24 2022 Guelph, Ontario Panthers
19 Canada Robert Calisti D L 21 2022 Toronto, Ontario Checkers
44 United States Dennis Cesana D R 24 2022 Providence, Rhode Island Checkers
32 Canada Xavier Cormier C L 21 2022 Pont-Rouge, Quebec Checkers
21 Canada Zac Dalpe (C) C R 32 2021 Paris, Ontario Panthers
14 Russia Grigori Denisenko RW R 22 2021 Novosibirsk, Russia Panthers
37 Canada Evan Fitzpatrick G L 24 2021 St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Checkers
United States Dominic Franco RW R 26 2022 Scituate, Rhode Island Checkers
6 United States Max Gildon D L 23 2021 Plano, Texas Panthers
39 United States Patrick Giles C R 22 2022 Chevy Chase, Maryland Checkers
1 United States Mack Guzda G L 21 2022 Knoxville, Tennessee Panthers
20 Finland Aleksi Heponiemi (A) C L 23 2021 Tampere, Finland Panthers
9 United States Logan Hutsko RW R 23 2021 Tampa, Florida Panthers
United States Cam Johnson G L 28 2022 Troy, Michigan Checkers
Germany Lukas Kaelble D L 24 2022 Mannheim, Germany Checkers
Canada Ethan Keppen LW L 21 2022 Whitby, Ontario Checkers
8 United States Matt Kiersted D L 24 2021 Elk River, Minnesota Panthers
18 Canada John Ludvig D L 22 2021 Liberec, Czech Republic Panthers
Canada Cam Morrison LW L 24 2022 Aurora, Ontario Checkers
Canada Riley Nash C R 33 2022 Consort, Alberta Checkers
28 Canada Serron Noel RW R 22 2021 Guelph, Ontario Panthers
15 Canada Zach Uens D L 21 2022 Belleville, Ontario Panthers

Team captains

References

  1. ^ "Capital District Sports announce River Rats sale". Albany River Rats. February 10, 2010. Archived from the original on February 21, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  2. ^ "AHL Hockey coming to Charlotte in 2010-11". Charlotte Checkers. February 15, 2010. Archived from the original on February 19, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  3. ^ "Charlotte added to AHL for 2010-11". American Hockey League. February 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 2018-02-15. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  4. ^ "CHECKERS DOUBLED UP, 4-2, IN HISTORIC OPENER". Charlotte Checkers. October 15, 2010. Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  5. ^ "CHECKERS BLANK WHALE IN FRONT OF RECORD CROWD!". Charlotte Checkers. February 26, 2011. Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  6. ^ Lasko, Seth (April 10, 2015). "Charlotte Checkers looking to leave Time Warner Cable Arena with team attendance record". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on 2015-09-15. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  7. ^ Niedzielski, Nicholas (April 11, 2015). "Checkers fall to Rockford in front of record crowd". Charlotte Checkers. Archived from the original on 2015-04-18. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  8. ^ Brough, Jason (November 25, 2014). "The Charlotte Checkers would like to move back to Bojangles' Coliseum". NBC Sports. Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  9. ^ Branecky, Paul (December 9, 2014). "Checkers Make Return to Bojangles' Coliseum Official". Charlotte Checkers. Archived from the original on 2015-02-09. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  10. ^ Spanberg, Erik (February 10, 2015). "Council backs Charlotte Checkers, arena". Charlotte Business Journal. Archived from the original on 2015-02-14. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  11. ^ "Charlotte City Council Approves Funding to Renovate Bojangles' Coliseum". Charlotte Checkers. December 8, 2014. Archived from the original on 2015-02-19. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  12. ^ "MARATHON MEN: PHANTOMS WIN LONGEST AHL GAME EVER". American Hockey League. May 10, 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-05-10. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  13. ^ Niedzielski, Nicholas (June 9, 2019). "CHECKERS WIN CALDER CUP CHAMPIONSHIP". Charlotte Checkers. Archived from the original on 2019-06-10. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  14. ^ "Wolves forge partnership with Carolina Hurricanes". Chicago Wolves. September 10, 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-09-29. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  15. ^ "28 teams to participate in 2020-21 AHL season". American Hockey League. January 4, 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-01-04. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  16. ^ Pelletier, Justin (July 2, 2021). "No longer affiliated with the Canes, the AHL's Checkers now have two NHL parent clubs". The Herald-Sun. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  17. ^ "Charlotte Checkers Team Roster". Charlotte Checkers. Archived from the original on 2010-07-19. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  18. ^ "Eliteprospects.com Charlotte Checkers". Elite Prospects. Archived from the original on 2003-11-19. Retrieved July 26, 2022.