CHARLOTTE - Playoff hockey. Those are some of the best two words in all of sports.

And playoff hockey is coming to Charlotte beginning Thursday night.

The Charlotte Checkers, AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, will begin their playoff series against the Chicago Wolves, with guaranteed home games on Thursday and Friday.

The Checkers made a mad dash at the end of the season to clinch a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs, and they know things are going to be taken up a notch beginning Thursday.

"Everything becomes harder," said first-year coach Ulf Samuelsson. "Everything is tougher. Players find another level to compete."

"It's more physical, it's faster," said the team's right winger, Patrick Brown. "Both teams going at it maybe seven games in a row, it's going to be a good sporting event."

For tickets, call 704-342-4423.