A three-goal, third-period outburst by Hershey came up short on Wednesday night during a 5-4 road loss to the Charlotte Checkers, one that closed out the back-to-back series at Bojangles’ Coliseum in North Carolina. The Bears remain winless on Wednesday’s this season, falling to 0-4-0-2 in midweek battles.
Charlotte scored twice within the final minutes of the opening period. At 17:19, Jake Bean scored after his center-point shot deflected off a maze of bodies and into the cage behind Vitek Vanecek. The Checkers received another lucky bounce after a Steven Lorentz shot hit the cross-bar and the puck fell at the skates of David Gust who had an open net at 19:39.
The Bears got on the board in the second period on a strong, individual effort by Garrett Pilon, who wired a shot from the slot that beat Checkers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic 1:13 into the stanza.
Hershey hit iron twice and Vanecek made two saves on Charlotte breakaways before Gustav Forsling scored unassisted at 10:35, when Vanecek mishandled the puck in the crease. Oliwer Kaski tallied on a power play at 12:09 and Lorentz added his 13th goal of the season at 18:14 to give Charlotte a 5-1 lead.
The Bears came to life in the third period with three goals starting with a Brian Pinho shot that eluded Nedeljkovic at 11:51. At 15:24 Eddie Wittchow sent the puck across the crease that deflected into the cage. The goal was originally credited to Matt Moulson but switched to Wittchow for his second goal in consecutive nights.
With Vanecek on the bench for an extra attacker, and over three minutes remaining, the Bears won a face-off and Pinho blasted his second goal of the evening home at 16:57 to make it 5-4.
Despite several late chances in the offensive zone the Bears were unable to find the equalizer, and lost back-to-back games for the first time since losing consecutively on Nov. 27 and Nov. 30 at Giant Center, to the Providence Bruins and Belleville Senators.
The Bears return to action on Saturday entertaining the Atlantic Division-leading Hartford Wolf Pack. Hershey dominates weekends, posting a combined 18-5-2-1 record between Saturdays and Sundays.