The Charlotte Checkers launch their American Hockey League season Friday with a 7:15 p.m. game at the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Here are four things to know about the Checkers and the AHL as the hockey season begins:
The home opener is next week
The Checkers play Friday night in Hartford, then Saturday at the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins before coming home next weekend. They’ll entertain the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, farm team of the New York Islanders, at 7:15 p.m. next Friday and 6 p.m. Oct. 14 at Bojangles Coliseum.
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Incidentally, Checkers CEO Tera Black says this is the earliest start to the AHL season in a number of years.
Names to remember
There’s a good chance the players you see with the Checkers and their opponents will be big names in the NHL eventually. More than 88 percent of the NHL’s players spent some time in the AHL.
Up and down
The Checkers and their NHL parent team, the Carolina Hurricanes, both have young rosters. Look for a number of Checkers players to be called up to the NHL during the season – and vice versa. Also loaded with talent are the Florida Everblades, the Hurricanes’ farm team in the East Coast Hockey League (a level below the AHL). So a number of Florida players could spend time with Charlotte this season.
The Checkers have been moved from the AHL’s Western Division to the East. So instead of facing teams from the Midwest, Southwest and West Coast, Charlotte’s opponents will all be from New England, the Mid-Atlantic, Ontario and Quebec.