Sports Strength

The AHL’s Charlotte Checkers Are Ready For The Playoffs

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of covering the Charlotte Checkers who played their final regular-season home game against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Not only was it my first time ever covering a hockey game, but it was also my first time even attending a hockey match in person, which was incredible. The game took place at the Bojangles Coliseum, which was an overtime matchup that ended with the Hartford Wolf Pack taking it 4-3.

While the Checkers may not have gotten the win, it was still a memorable day for team captain Zac Dalpe who was playing in his milestone 600th professional game. I attended this game not for a “recap,” but to learn more about the team that has Charlotte’s heart.

The Charlotte Checkers are a minor league professional ice hockey team that are a part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the American Hockey League. They are affiliates of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and Seattle Kraken.

Originally known as the Capital District Islanders from 1990 to 1993 and based in Troy, New York, the team took on another moniker, the Albany River Rats for nearly seventeen years before relocating to Charlotte in 2010. Once there, the River Rats officially changed their name to the Charlotte Checkers, making them the second professional minor league hockey team to officially be recognized in the highest level of minor-league hockey.

At the time, the Checkers were playing at what was then known as the Time Warner Cable Arena (now the Spectrum Center) and moved to the Bojangles Coliseum in 2010. While the Checkers have been fun to watch every year, their 2018-2019 season is widely regarded as their best thus far in team history. That year, the Checkers captured the Regular Season Title, the Division Championship, the Conference Championship, and the Calder Cup.

For those that don’t know, the Calder Cup is the annual trophy awarded to the American Hockey League Champion each year. Fast forward to 2022, and the Checkers are hoping for the same outcome. The team clinched their playoff berth on April 7th, making them the first team to get an invitation to the 2022 Playoffs

Obviously, the city of Charlotte is very excited about the team’s chance to bring home another trophy this year, and that was evident during this final home game. The Bojangles Coliseum houses 8,600 seats, and despite already clinching a playoff spot, the turnout was still amazing. I’d estimate that at least 8,300 of 8,600 seats were filled, and that number could have been more as there were tons of people getting food and merchandise.

Many of those fans were rocking Checkers gear, and we’re genuinely disappointed to see their team lose despite the fact that in the grand scheme of things, the game really didn’t matter much.

The food options were simple yet satisfying with an abundance of pizza, popcorn, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and more, and the live experience was awesome. Since I had never been to a hockey game before, I didn’t know what to expect. I had multiple people tell me that the hockey live experience is among the most exciting to watch, and after attending myself, I would have to agree. I can only imagine what a hockey playoff game feels like, and it is my hope that one day I’ll be able to attend one.

Best of luck to the Charlotte Checkers as they embark on their postseason journey, which you can follow via their Instagram and Twitter.

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