Through his first 28 games with the Charlotte Checkers, rookie center Lucas Wallmark scored just five goals as he struggled to adjust to the American Hockey League.
Wallmark’s production has steadily increased as he’s grown more acclimated. And after scoring two goals in the Checkers’ wins over the Manitoba Moose on Thursday and Friday — giving him 16 over his past 31 games — he was rewarded.
The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, Charlotte’s parent team, recalled Wallmark for the first time in his career Sunday. He’ll join the Hurricanes for Monday’s game against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Wallmark’s 21 goals lead the Checkers this season. That’s two shy of Zac Dalpe’s club record for most by a rookie in a season.
Thursday: The Moose scored less than three minutes in, but Wallmark answered with a goal two minutes later. Wallmark’s goal was the first of three scored by the Checkers in the first period, which Charlotte finished leading 3-2. Danny Kristo’s shorthanded goal seven minutes into the second ultimately proved to be the difference in a 4-3 win.
Friday: Wallmark kicked off the scoring for Charlotte with a goal less than five minutes into its 4-1 victory. Connor Brickley and Trevor Carrick then followed Wallmark’s lead, netting one goal each to hand the Checkers a 3-0 lead after about 10 minutes. That proved be enough of a cushion for Tom McCollum, who stopped 49 shots — the most by a Charlotte goalkeeper this season — in his first game after being acquired on loan from the Stockton Heat.
What’s next: The Checkers open a six-game homestand at Bojangles’ Coliseum with games against the Ontario Reign at 7:15 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.