Hershey dropped the middle two games of its current six-game road trip on Friday and Saturday in Charlotte, by score of 5-3 and 3-1.
Friday’s game could not have started any better for Hershey, as the Bears enjoyed a second-period lead of 3-0, one that evaporated quickly and resulted in a 5-3 loss, their sixth straight on the road.
Just 1:57 into the game, Hershey’s Beck Malenstyn fed teammate Tobias Geisser, whose shot was stopped by Charlotte goaltender Joey Daccord. But Kody Clark connected on the rebound for his seventh goal of the season, from the slot.
Hershey outshot the Checkers 10-4 in the opening period and took a 2-0 lead when Mason Morelli scored at 17:43, redirecting Bobby Nardella’s shot into the net for his ninth goal of the campaign. Shane Gersich also picked up an assist on the play.
Cody Franson netted his eighth goal of the season at 3:46 of the middle stanza to give the Bears a 3-0 lead with Garrett Pilon and Mike Vecchione assisting. Charlotte removed Daccord from the game, after he allowed three goals on 11 shots.
His replacement, Christopher Gibson, kept the Bears from scoring the rest of the game.
Charlotte cut Hershey’s lead to just a goal before the period ended. Alexander True scored at 8:13, and Zac Dalpe struck on a screen shot at 18:15, to make it 3-2 Hershey heading into the third period.
The Checkers tied the game at 6:13 of the third period on Cale Fleury’s seventh goal of the season. With the puck loose off a faceoff tie-up, Fleury skated in alone on Zach Fucale and chipped a backhander over his right pad to even the score at three.
Charlotte enjoyed a late power play, and Scott Wilson scored the winner at 15:14. Fleury’s shot from the point was deflected by Wilson past Fucale to give the Charlotte its first lead at 4-3.
Dalpe scored his second goal of the game into the empty net at 19:52 to seal the win for Checkers.
Hershey was outshot 29-27. Charlotte was 1-for-5 on the power play while Hershey was 0-for-3.
Along with Bridgeport, the Checkers have been the Atlantic Division’s hottest team of late, going 8-2-1-0 over the past 11 games.
The contest was Hershey’s first game on April Fool’s Day since Apr. 1, 2017, when the Bears dropped a 4-2 decision to Bridgeport.
Saturday’s game saw the Checkers score at 19:20 of the first period on a power play, when Hershey was caught in a line change. Charlotte broke out 2-on-1, and Wilson connected from the right wing for his 23rd goal of the season. Fleury and Connor Carrick assisted.
Hershey tied it in the second period on Brett Leason’s third goal of the season. Leason took an Alex Alexeyev pass and skated down the right wing, snapping a shot over the catching glove of Charlotte goaltender Joey Daccord. Alexeyev and Shane Gersich provided the helpers.
The game went into the third period tied thanks to a pair of breakaway saves by Hershey netminder Pheonix Copley, on Henry Bowbly and Wilson to keep the score 1-1.
Jac Dalpe’s power play goal at 2:46 of the third period proved to be the difference maker. The veteran forward ripped a one-timer from the slot past Copley’s blocker for his 27th goal of the season, making it 2-1 Charlotte.
Hershey pulled Copley late in the final period for an extra skater, but Cole Schwindt finished the win for Charlotte, with an empty-net goal for the 3-1 final at 18:22.
Copley stopped 37-of-39 shots in the loss, as Charlotte led in shots, 40-21. The Checkers were 2-for-4 on the power play while Hershey was 0-for-4.
The Bears are back in action Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. in Bridgeport.
Hershey has lost seven straight road decisions, despite out-shooting its opponents in five of the losses.
The Bears finished 3-5-0-0 versus Charlotte this year.
Copley entered the game unbeaten in regulation in his previous five starts. Since Jan. 22, he has gone 6-2-2-1. Against Charlotte this year, Copley is 2-3-0.