The Director of Finance/Controller filled in as the public address announcer. The Chief Operating Officer acted as the arena DJ. Ticket sales staff? They worked as the ice crew. A corporate salesperson ran the video board. The camerawoman regularly handles merchandise. Even the mascot, Chubby, was played by a corporate servicing specialist.
Wednesday night wasn’t your typical American Hockey League game at Bojangles’ Coliseum for the Charlotte Checkers. Inclement weather in the area forced the team to close the game to the public. But since the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and referees were already in town, and it would have been difficult to get Bridgeport back to Charlotte for a makeup, it was game on.
So in front of a crowd of, well, Checkers employees doubling as game operations staff, the teams played and the home side came out on top 4-3, thanks to a three-goal third period.
Here’s what a goal by the home team sounded like:
We get it right back!
And yes, we are using the goal horn, in case you were wondering. pic.twitter.com/LSryDLdYif
— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) January 17, 2018
The lack of a crowd didn’t stop the Checkers from acting like it was a normal game day. The mascot kept working and even “Cotton-Eyed Joe” was played to rev up the…players, I guess? It also wouldn’t have been a game night without the “Kiss Cam.”
This wasn’t the first time the team has played a game that was closed to the public. Back in 2016 Winter Storm Jonas caused a number of sporting events to be postponed, but not for the Checkers, who had their staff run the game.
The Checkers are off the next two days as they prepare to face the Rochester Americans in a two-game set this weekend. The weather in Charlotte will be much better over the next couple of days, which means the Checkers’ staff will be able to get back to their regular jobs.
Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at email@example.com.
• Eric Lindros talks jersey retirement and about the buzz in Philadelphia now that the Eagles are in the NFC title game. (Philly.com)
• Willie O’Ree became the first black hockey player to play in the NHL 60 years ago this week. Not many people have had a greater impact on the game. (NHL.com)
• Washington Wizards forward Mike Scott isn’t a hockey fan, but he has a pretty large collection of NHL jerseys. (Washington Post)
• Lightning goalie Louis Domingue admitted that he almost quit hockey when he was struggling with the Coyotes earlier this season. (Raw Charge)
• The U.S. Women’s National Team won a pair of exhibition games against the best players from the NWHL. (Victory Press)
• The ECHL has already announced their new 2019 All-Star format, and it’s a little odd. (Scottywazz.com)
• A Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993. If hockey fans want that streak to come to an end this year, they’ll probably have to root for the Winnipeg Jets. (Spector’s Hockey)
When Ondrej Kase cashed in on another breakaway opportunity for the Ducks to make it 4-1 in the second period, it looked like that goal would be icing on the cake for Anaheim. Even if it would be especially pretty frosting.
Instead, that stylish goal ended up being critical, as the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly rallied in the third period to at least send Wednesday’s game to overtime. John Gibson ended up holding down the fort, and with an empty-netter in the dying seconds, the Ducks ended up beating the Penguins 5-3.
You could call it a game of periods and close calls.
The Penguins entered the first intermission thanks to a 1-0 Evgeni Malkin goal, but the Ducks dominated the middle frame with their first four-goal period of 2017-18. The Penguins’ prolific power play helped them stay in the game (2-for-4, with both goals coming during that third-period comeback bid), but the rally fell short. Pittsburgh’s winning streak ended at four victories.
From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the latest argument in favor of this team being a threat now that key pieces have returned to the lineup. This win begins what they hope is a successful five-game homestand, as Anaheim still needs to battle for its own playoff hopes.
The Penguins can’t ruminate on this loss for very long. They head to Los Angeles to face what must be a frustrated Kings team (four straight defeats, only two wins in their last eight games) on Thursday, with little reason to expect any mercy.
This last stretch of wins improved the Penguins’ outlook, but dropping games in back-to-back nights could make things tense again in a hurry. You can check out that Penguins – Kings game on NBCSN Thursday.
BOSTON (AP) Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL’s color barrier.
At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018 to be “Willie O’Ree Day”. O’Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.
Walsh called O’Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better and thanked him for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O’Ree Rink.
A native of Canada, O’Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.
For the past two decades, O’Ree has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.
More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey