Charlotte Checkers

AHL champion Charlotte Checkers will have a familiar face as their new head coach

Ryan Warsofsky, who directed the American Hockey League’s top penalty-killing unit as Charlotte Checkers’ assistant coach, was named Wednesday as head coach of the reigining Calder Cup champions.

The announcement was made by the Carolina Hurricanes, the NHL parent club of the Checkers.

Warsofsky replaces Mike Vellucci, who left the organization last month to become head coach of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Checkers’ first regular-season game under their new head coach will be Oct. 5 in Hartford, Conn. The AHL released the 2019-20 schedule Wednesday.

Warsofsky, 31, will be the youngest current head coach in the AHL and the youngest head coach in Checkers history. He’s also the youngest head coach hired in the league in since Providence appointed Bill Armstrong, then 30, in 2000.

Under former head coach Mike Vellucci (right), Ryan Warsofsky led a Charlotte Checkers defense that ranked second in the AHL and turned the team’s penalty-killing unit into the league’s best. Courtesy of Charlotte Checkers

Warsofsky was an assistant with the Checkers for one season and headed a defense that ranked second in the AHL, allowing 2.49 goals per game. He also directed a penalty-killing unit that climbed from 24th the season before he arrived to No. 1 in the AHL in 2018-19.

He was head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays in 2016-18, compiling an overall record of 88-44-12. He became the second-youngest coach to lead a team to the ECHL finals in 2017.

Warsofsky played collegiately at Sacred Heart College and Curry College, then played one year of professional hockey (2011-12) in two lower-level U.S. minor leagues before turning to coaching.

Checkers schedule set

The Checkers will open their home season Friday, Oct. 11, with a 7 p.m. game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The team’s 2018-19 AHL championship banner will be raised prior to the contest.

Some other highlights from the schedule:

Thanksgiving weekend: The Checkers will have three home games that weekend, facing Cleveland on Nov. 27 and Providence on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Long road trip 1: Charlotte will be on the road for seven straight games from late December to mid-January.

Toronto visits: The last two AHL champions play Jan. 18-19 in Charlotte. Toronto won the Calder Cup in 2018 and lost to the Checkers in the Eastern Conference finals in May.

Brutal trip: The Checkers play six road games in eight days in late March.

Vellucci’s homecoming: Mike Vellucci’s return to Charlotte with his new team, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, will be Jan. 24-25. It’ll be the Checkers’ only home games against the Penguins.

Balanced schedule: Despite the two long trips, the Checkers have a nearly balanced home-away schedule. They have four road and four home games in October; five home and seven road in November; seven home and five road in January; six home and six road in February; seven home and seven road in March; and three home and three away in April.

2019-20 Checkers Schedule

Date, Time, Opponent

Oct. 5, 7 p.m., at Hartford

Oct. 6, 3:05 p.m., at Springfield

Oct. 11, 7 p.m., Bridgeport

Oct. 12, 6 p.m., Bridgeport

Oct. 18, 7 p.m., at Utica

Oct. 19, 7 p.m., at Syracuse

Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Lehigh Valley

Oct. 26, 6 p.m., Lehigh Valley

Nov. 1, 7 p.m., at Cleveland

Nov. 3, 1 p.m., at Cleveland

Nov. 8, 7 p.m., Springfield

Nov. 9, 6 p.m., Springfield

Nov. 15, 7 p.m., at Hershey

Nov. 16, 7 p.m., at Hershey

Nov. 20, 7:05 p.m., at Lehigh Valley

Nov. 22, 7:05 p.m., at Lehigh Valley

Nov. 23, 7:05 p.m., at W-B/Scranton

Nov. 26, 7 p.m., Cleveland

Nov. 27, 7 p.m., Cleveland

Nov. 30, 6 p.m., Providence

Dec. 1, 1 p.m., Providence

Dec. 4, 7 p.m., at Syracuse

Dec. 6, 7:05 p.m., at Rochester

Dec. 7, 7:05 p.m., at Rochester

Dec. 13, 7 p.m., Syracuse

Dec. 14, 6 p.m., Syracuse

Dec. 17, 7 p.m., Hartford

Dec. 18, 7 p.m., Hartford

Dec. 21, 6 p.m., Lehigh Valley

Dec. 22, 1 p.m., Lehigh Valley

Dec. 28, 8 p.m., at Cleveland

Dec. 30, 1 p.m., at Cleveland

Jan. 4, 7:05 p.m., at Providence

Jan. 5, 3:05 p.m., at Providence

Jan. 8, 7:05 p.m., at W-B/Scranton

Jan. 10, 7:15 p.m., at Hartford

Jan. 11, 7 p.m., at Bridgeport

Jan. 14, 7 p.m., Hershey

Jan. 15, 7 p.m., Hershey

Jan. 18, 6 p.m., Toronto

Jan. 19, 1 p.m., Toronto

Jan. 24, 7 p.m., W-B/Scranton

Jan. 25, 6 p.m., W-B/Scranton

Jan. 31, 7 p.m., at Toronto

Feb. 1, 4 p.m., at Toronto

Feb. 7, 7 p.m., Hartford

Feb. 8, 6 p.m., Hartford

Feb. 11, 7 p.m., Rochester

Feb. 12, 7 p.m., Rochester

Feb. 15, 6 p.m., Springfield

Feb. 16, 1 p.m., Springfield

Feb. 21, 7:05 p.m., at Binghamton

Feb. 22, 7:05 p.m., at Binghamton

Feb. 25, 7 p.m., at Hershey

Feb. 28, 7:05 p.m., at Lehigh Valley

Feb. 29, 7:05 p.m., at Lehigh Valley

March 1, 5 p.m., at Hershey

March 6, 7 p.m., Utica

March 7, 6 p.m., Utica

March 10, 7 p.m., Cleveland

March 11, 7 p.m., Cleveland

March 14, 6 p.m., Providence

March 15, 1 p.m., Providence

March 20, 7:15 p.m., at Hartford

March 21, 7 p.m., at Bridgeport

March 22, 3:05 p.m., at Providence

March 25, 7 p.m., at Hartford

March 27, 7 p.m., at Utica

March 28, 7:05 p.m., at Springfield

March 31, 7 p.m., Binghamton

April 1, 7 p.m., Binghamton

April 4, 6 p.m., Hershey

April 5, 1 p.m., Hershey

April 8, 7:05 p.m., at Springfield

April 10, 7:05 p.m., at Providence

April 11, 7:05 p.m., at Springfield