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BY DON SCOTT

The Bears took a 3-2 lead into the third period of Saturday’s game, before the Hartford Wolf Pack scored five times in the final 20 minutes to claim a 7-3 decision. The Charlotte Checkers visited Giant Center on Sunday, in a game that saw Hershey get back into the win column with a 4-2 final, to improve its record to 7-5-2-1. 

Hartford scored twice to take a 2-0 advantage into the first intermission.

At the 6:18 mark, Anthony Greco came off the bench and took a cross-ice pass from Braden Schneider and buried his fifth goal of the season. At 12:13, Patrick Khodorenko made it 2-0. 

In the second period, Hershey took charge with three unanswered goals to grab a 3-2 lead. Just 93 seconds into the period, Eddie Wittchow forced a turnover in the slot, and Shane Gersich snapped his first goal of the campaign home.

The Bears pulled even at 10:06 on Mike Sgarbossa’s sixth goal of the season. Lucas Johansen fired the puck near the goal from the left point, and a perfect redirect by Sgarbossa sent the disc past Hartford goaltender Keith Kinkaid to tie the score.  

The Chocolate and White turned a prolonged offensive zone shift into a 3-2 advantage at 15:13 on Dylan McIlrath’s his first goal of the season. Gersich and Michal Kempny earned the helpers.

But the third period was all Wolf Pack once again as they stormed back with five unanswered strikes. Lauri Pajuniemi scored twice within 64 seconds to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead, at 2:53 and 3:57.

P.C. Labrie netted his second goal of the season to open a 5-3 cushion at 4:24, then Jonny Brodzinski also scored twice on a power play and shorthanded goal, for the 7-3 final.

In Sunday’s tilt, Joe Snively and Mike Sgarbossa each recorded three-point nights for Hershey, and goaltender Pheonix Copley picked up his 74th win in a Bears uniform to move into the number seven spot for all-time franchise victories, nine behind Rollie Boutin’s 83 victories. 

Cale Fleury tallied for the Checkers only 8:36 into the contest for the first period’s lone marker.

Matt Moulson’s deflection of a shot by Cody Franson past Charlotte goaltender Christopher Gibson evened the score for the Bears at 11:23 of the second period, with the Bears on a power play.

The Checkers needed just 64 seconds to regain a 2-1 lead, on Gustav Olofsson’s first goal of the season at 12:27. 

Hershey responded once more before the period ended, when Michal Kempny hit the goal post and Mike Sgarbossa converted on the rebound at 16:09 to tie the game at 2-2.

“There was a lot said before tonight’s game about needing a big bounce back after our performance in the third period Saturday night that was unacceptable,” Hershey captain Matt Moulson said. “The guys were pretty fired up, especially because this was the Cancer Night that brought a lot of energy from the fans in the building.”

In the third period, the Bears went up 3-2 on a power play goal from Joe Snively, a tally that became the eventual game-winner at 2:39, then Sgarbossa added an empty net goal at 18:22 to round out the 4-2 final.

“This was an extremely important game for us tonight because Charlotte did not play last night and we had to travel and got back here around four this morning,” Hershey head coach Scott Allen said. “This was a full team effort, plus Copley played extremely well, along with Scarbossa and Snively getting three points.”

“Between the injuries in Washington and us, we’re short more than six or seven guys, but this gives others an opportunity to get more ice time in situations they wouldn’t normally get,” added Allen.

Shots on goal totaled 26-19 Charlotte. Hershey’s special teams finished two-for-five on the power play and four-for-five on the penalty kill. 

Hershey returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 24 against the Providence Bruins at 7 p.m. It will be Sara Lee & Canteen Vending Turkey Shoot Night at Giant Center, when all fans are welcome postgame to take part in the Sara Lee & Canteen Vending Turkey Shoot. 

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