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 Charlotte Checkers

Vande Sompel Acquisition Paying off for Stingy Checkers Blue Line

April 4, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Charlotte Checkers News Release

At the start of March, Mitch Vande Sompel was patrolling the blue line for the last-place Chicago Wolves. A month later and he has jumped straight onto a Checkers squad that is catching fire down the stretch and eyeing a postseason run.

"It's been awesome," said Vande Sompel. "I couldn't ask for more so far."

The Checkers acquired Vande Sompel on March 8 in exchange for Jake Wise - a move necessitated by the loss of Lucas Carlsson to injury for the remainder of the season. That kickstarted a whirlwind stretch for Vande Sompel, who debuted with Charlotte four days later.

"That was my first time being traded as a pro," he said. "So it was a bit of a hectic few weeks. I've played on the road here a little bit, but honestly I didn't know anything about the city."

The Charlotte coaching staff immediately entrusted him with a spot on the blue line, and Vande Sompel - a third-round pick in 2015 with nearly 300 AHL games under his belt - has adapted quickly to his new surroundings.

"Once you figure some of the big things out then you start to settle down and get comfortable," said Vande Sompel. "That's been it for me, I'm feeling more comfortable with the city and the schedule and meeting all the guys and stuff."

In terms of what he brings to the defensive group, the Ontario native sees his skill set as a well-rounded one.

"I think that's been the biggest thing in my career, I've been a decent skater and it's kept me around," said Vande Sompel. "I think that's the biggest thing, getting up and down the ice, I'm typically pretty good with that. I try to chip in on both ends of the ice, be reliable defensively, help on special teams whenever I'm called upon."

The already surging Checkers have continued to raise their game since adding Vande Sompel to the mix - going 7-1-1-0 since acquiring the blue liner.

"I think it's a lot of things," said Vande Sompel of the source of Charlotte's hot streak. "I obviously haven't been here that long, but from what I've seen guys have just bought into the coaches' systems and the way we play. When you do those things and you bring it every night, it's hard to lose games when you're playing like that. Especially when you get on a roll."

The defensive side of things has taken center stage as of late for the Checkers, as they've surrendered just 14 total goals over that nine-game stretch.

"We don't give up a lot of odd-man rushes typically," said Vande Sompel. "We've got guys skating on top of their team the whole game and it's frustrating for the other team when they don't have time and space. That builds up and then you don't give up good chances and you get good play from the goalies. That usually equates to a better defensive game."

Propelled by that stingy play, the Checkers are tied for the best record over the last 10 games in the division and are closing in on punching their ticket to the postseason.

"Right now, this is the best time to be hot," said Vande Sompel. "We have seven games left still in the regular season, you've got to carry that through so you have a little bit of momentum going into the playoffs. Finding our game right now is huge and we just have to keep it going."

Midseason trades can bring about a wide array of results, but Vande Sompel's arrival in Charlotte has been positive all the way around.

"Everyone's feeling good," he said. "It's a good vibe around the rink. That carries over. It's fun right now."

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