Sports stats

 Charlotte Checkers

Rookie Year Serves as Education for Skyler Brind'Amour

May 16, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Charlotte Checkers News Release

The biggest moment of Skyler Brind'Amour's rookie year came on the biggest stage - the postseason.

While shorthanded in the final minutes of a tied Game 1 against Hartford, Brind'Amour forced a turnover in the neutral zone, carried the puck up the ice and made a stellar pass across to Will Lockwood for what would hold as the game-winning goal.

"You see in that first playoff game, he made some serious positive impact in the game," said head coach Geordie Kinnear. "Big moment in a key playoff game, makes a play on the penalty kill. You'll see more of that."

That moment was the culmination of what had been a year of grinding for the first-year pro.

"I think, from the start to the end, I grew a lot," said Brind'Amour. "It's different coming in here and playing way more games and things like that. Overall it was a tough year but I had a lot of fun doing it and working every day and trying to get better."

The learning curve that comes with transitioning from the college ranks to the pro game is a steep one - and one that Brind'Amour took head on, with the support of the coaching staff.

"We spoke all year, it wasn't easy at times," said Kinnear. "At some point I just told him to keep your head up, keep fighting, that's what we do around here regardless of how hard it gets."

That wasn't the only thing he took head on.

"He did that," said Kinnear of Brind'Amour taking his advice to keep fighting. "And then took a couple pucks to the face after I talked to him about that. So he had to battle through that."

The battling paid off for Brind'Amour, who carved out a consistent role centering the fourth line and killing penalties - two of the biggest weapons in his arsenal.

"Coming in that was one of the things I did a lot in school, playing on the penalty kill and being good on draws and things like that," he said. "Thankfully [Kinnear] gave me a little bit of leeway - especially at the start - to find my game in that area. Big credit to him, he taught me a lot of little things, the nuances about playing that way."

Brind'Amour found a way to be a contributor on this Checkers team, and while he may have liked to see an uptick on the production front, his rookie campaign has given him a foundation to build on as a pro.

"I thought it was a great step for someone to take," said Kinnear. "The numbers are what they are, but I don't look at it that way. It was a great education for him moving forward to become a real good hockey player at some point. You have to have the education first to have the growth later - only if you're willing to put the work in, be a great teammate and a great competitor, all that stuff. He fits the bill for all of those."

Brind'Amour already has his sights set on the work he'll be putting in this offseason.

"There's a lot of things, especially now when it's still so fresh," he said of what he wants to focus on. "For me, I want to get stronger this summer, work on some puck skills. It's a big summer, as they all are, but I'm excited to get to work. I'm going to have a little extra motivation with how things ended here."

Having signed a two-year AHL deal out of college, Brind'Amour is ready to take the next step back here in his home state.

"It's awesome," said Brind'Amour of returning to Charlotte. "It's a great city, the fans were great all year. It's pretty special to be able to play this close to home and be able to have family and friends come. To play in Charlotte is pretty special."

• Discuss this story on the American Hockey League message board...

American Hockey League Stories from May 16, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Charlotte Checkers Stories

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central