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Florida Panthers Prospects: Checkers start 1-1, Benning shines in Denver

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Prospects Florida Panthers
Logan Hutsko, formerly of Boston College, made his pro debut for the Charlotte Checkers over the weekend and led the team with three assists in two games. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

With the AHL season now underway, the Florida Panthers now have their prospects on full display.

The Charlotte Checkers opened their season with a 5-2 loss to the Hershey Bears on Saturday, while ending their short road trip with a 4-2 victory over the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins to open 1-1.

The Checkers started their season with a big boost to their lineup as Maxim Mamin and Chase Priskie were sent down after starting the season with the Panthers. Neither player dressed for Florida’s opener but both have an assist for the Checkers.

Another defenseman who looked like he could make the roster, Max Gildon, also added an assist in his first two games with the Checkers. He played a very good game defensively, as he usually does, using his long reach to break up offensive plays. Gildon is a player to watch throughout the season.

Aleksi Heponiemi scored the biggest highlight reel goal of the weekend with an absolute snipe after splitting the defense to give Charlotte its first goal of the season.

Heponiemi finished the weekend with just that goal, but also played a complete game defensively as well.

The star of the show for the Checkers this weekend, however, was Logan Hutsko.

The former Boston College standout finished the weekend with three assists, leading the team in points through the first weekend.

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Hutsko is a known playmaker and was making things happen in a similar capacity during the preseason, scoring a goal and playing a very physical game in the two games he played.

At 5-11 and 174 pounds, he’s not the biggest guy out there, but he has the strength to be a pest in front of the net while also being a good skater.

Hutsko is turning into one of the biggest players to watch in Charlotte and is closer to being an NHL-caliber player than a lot of people previously thought.

The Checkers return to action this weekend for their first home action in 590 days — a matchup with the Hershey Bears on Friday at 7:00 p.m.

The two teams go at it again on Saturday meaning Charlotte will play Hershey for three of its first four games.

College Panthers Shine

For the second week in a row, it’s Matt Benning who is leading the pack for the Panthers’ collegiate prospects.

After scoring two goals this weekend against Air Force, he now leads Panthers defense prospects in goals, trailing just Aleksi Saarela in total goals. Saarela has played 11 games; Benning four.

Benning leads all University of Denver defensemen in goals and is second amongst blueliners in points (four) this season.

The eighth-ranked Pioneers are in good standing with a 4-0-0 record heading into next weekend’s New England road trip, where they’ll face off against Providence and Boston College.

  • Mackie Samoskevich added another assist in two games for 4-0-0 Michigan.

The Wolverines are ranked first in the nation after beating then-No.1 Minnesota State 3-2 on Saturday. Samoskevich’s assist came in Friday’s 5-1 victory over No. 5 Minnesota Duluth on Friday.

On a loaded Michigan squad, the Panthers’ 2021 first-round draft pick is ranked 12th in points (two) and is tied for sixth in goals (one) as a freshman.

He plays on a line with fellow 2021 first-round picks Matty Beniers (Seattle) and Kent Johnson (Columbus.)

Samoskevich and the top-ranked Wolverines will be back in action this weekend against Western Michigan.

Friday’s opener in Ann Arbor of the home-and-home set between the two squads will be at 7:30 p.m. while Saturday’s game in Kalamazoo will be at 7:05.

 Games PlayedGoals Assists Points
C Justin Sourdif
(WHL, Vancouver Giants)
2000
D Mike Benning
(NCAA, University of Denver)
2202
C Aleksi Saarela
(NL, SCL Tigers)
3000
C Mackie Samoskevich
(NCAA, University of Michigan)
2011
D Carter Berger
(NCAA, University of Connecticut)
2000
D Tyler Inamoto
(NCAA, University of Wisconsin)
2000
C Owen Lindmark
(NCAA University of Wisconsin)
2101
D Braden Hache
(OHL, Kingston Frontenacs)
2000
D Cole Krygier
(NCAA, Michigan State University)
2000
D Kasper Puutio
(Liiga, KalPa)
2000
D Santtu Kinnunen
(Liiga, Tappara)
2000
C Aleksi Heponiemi
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
2101
LW Grigori Denisenko
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
2000
D Max Gildon
(AHL Charlotte Checkers)
2011
D Lucas Carlsson
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
2112
RW Serron Noel
(AHL Charlotte Checkers)
2000
C Logan Hutsko
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
2033
D Chase Priskie
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
2011
RW Cole Schwindt
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
2000
C Henry Bowlby
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
2000
LW Maxim Mamin
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
2011

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