Weekend watch list: Nov. 10-12

Photo: Jacob Kupferman

Patrick Williams, TheAHL.com Features Writer

The Charlotte Checkers gave themselves some extra time to settle in as they start a four-game West Coast swing tonight against the San Jose Barracuda.

The team departed on Wednesday morning, allowing for a full day of practice at Tech CU Arena on Thursday. This will be the Checkers’ third trip to California and first since the 2016-17 season. While they went 0-5-1-0 on their 2016-17 journey, they were 5-0-0-1 in 2015-16.

Charlotte is coming off a perfect four-game homestand that included back-to-back overtime victories last weekend against the San Diego Gulls. Gerry Mayhew has a four-game point streak (two goals, four assists) and scored both overtime winners last weekend. The Checkers will head to San Diego next week to conclude this trip.

But first on their travel itinerary will be the match-up with the Barracuda tonight and Sunday. Charlotte will have extra help on hand with the arrival of former San Jose Sharks forward Jonah Gadjovich on a conditioning assignment from the Florida Panthers. Gadjovich played 78 NHL games over the past two seasons with the Sharks before signing with the Panthers on Oct. 16. He also spent parts of three AHL seasons with Utica, scoring 15 goals in 19 games in 2020-21.

After a six-game winless streak (0-3-3-0), the Barracuda picked up a big 4-1 victory last Sunday at Calgary behind 33 stops from Georgi Romanov. Second-year forward Danil Gushchin is off to a hot start for San Jose with 13 points (four goals, nine assists) through nine games.

The Calgary Wranglers and Coachella Valley Firebirds have a Saturday date night set for Acrisure Arena, their first meeting since a memorable five-game battle in the Pacific Division Finals last May.

The clubs finished the regular season as the top two teams in the AHL, with the race for first place going down to the final week before Calgary edged Coachella Valley by three points.

The final four games of the teams’ best-of-five playoff series were all one-goal decisions, culminating in a back-and-forth Game 5 won by the Firebirds, 6-5, on an overtime goal by Andrew Poturalski.

The teams enter the weekend again with the best records in the AHL, Calgary at 6-1-1-0 (.813) and Coachella Valley at 6-2-0-0 (.750). The Firebirds will bring a five-game winning streak into Saturday’s game, and rank second in the league in scoring (4.13 goals per game) and tied for first in goals allowed (2.00).

Both teams also lost a pair of star prospects to NHL promotions this week. The Seattle Kraken have recalled Firebirds forward Shane Wright, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, while Wranglers goaltender Dustin Wolf, last season’s AHL most valuable player and top goaltender, was recalled by the Calgary Flames.

The Rochester Americans and Utica Comets will finish a home-and-home series in the AHLTV Free Game of the Week on Saturday (7 ET/6 CT).

After meeting tonight in Rochester, the teams go east on I-90 to Utica for Saturday’s rematch. The Empire State rivals have split their first two meetings this season. Utica’s Xavier Parent had the overtime winner in a 4-3 home victory last Friday.

Saturday is Veterans Day in the United States, and the Comets traditionally stage a home game on the holiday. This year, they will host a ceremony along with the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Upper Mohawk Valley Auditorium Authority. Joe Fraccola, commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 490, and Mohawk Valley Garden chief operating officer Rick Redmond, a Purple Heart recipient, will speak at the ceremony that will spotlight local military families.

An AHLTV account is required to watch the AHLTV Free Game of the Week, but no subscription is needed. Visit AHLTV.com for details.