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Hershey Manages a Road Point in Charlotte

BY DON SCOTT

The Hershey Bears came up short twice this weekend in Charlotte, dropping a 5-4 decision on Friday then enduring a 3-2 overtime defeat on Saturday

The Bears built a 3-0 lead on Friday, but the Charlotte Checkers scored five consecutive goals to hand Hershey its first loss of the season in a 5-4 loss at Bojangles Coliseum.

Sam Anas tallied his first goal of the season for the Bears just 1:15 into the tilt when Mason Morelli skated toward the net from the left wing and slid the puck across the crease to Anas. Morelli’s effort moved Alex Lyon out of the goalmouth, allowing Anas to hit the open net for a Bears 1-0 lead. Gabriel Carlsson earned the secondary assist.

With Henrik Borgstrom serving a tripping call at 10:41, the Bears made it 2-0 when Riley Sutter stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated in alone against Lyon, sending a shot home at 11:01 for the club’s first shorthanded goal of the season, and Sutter’s second tally on the year, making it 2-0.

The trio of Garrett Pilon, Mike Vecchione and Sonny Milano teamed up on Hershey’s third goal of the night, when Milano batted the puck out of mid-air back to Veccchione at the left circle, who then sent it across the slot to allow Pilon to put home his first of the season, at 13:38 of the second period.

Charlotte started its comeback at 18:03 with a goal from Anton Levtchi when he banked the puck underneath the pads of Hershey goalie Zach Fucale.

The Checkers made it 3-2, 1:07 into the third when Gerry Mayhew redirected a rebound past Fucale.

Charlotte pulled even at 3-3 at 6:40 when Zac Dalpe corralled a rebound and slid the puck through the pads of Fucale. At 15:10, Riley Nash put the Checkers up 4-3 with a power-play tally.

Dalpe netted his second goal, and the eventual game-winner, at 19:14 with Fucale pulled for an extra skater. Borgstrom pulled Hershey back to within a goal with less than one second remaining on the clock, with Pilon and Bobby Nardella assisting.

Shots finished 23-17 favoring the Checkers. Fucale finished the night stopping 18 of 23 shots for the Bears. Hershey was 0-for-3 on the power play, while Charlotte went 2-for-3.

In Saturday’s tilt, Ethen Frank and Sonny Milano scored in regulation, but the Bears (2-1-1-0) only earned a point as they fell to the Checkers (4-0-0-0) 3-2 in overtime at Bojangles Coliseum.

Frank scored his first of the season at 6:08 to give the Bears a 1-0 lead when he joined Mason Morelli on a give-and-go. As Morelli skated around a defender, he sent the puck to his right for Frank to beat Mack Guzda on the glove side. Logan Day picked up the secondary assist.

Logan Hutsko tied the game for Charlotte at 16:18 just as a Hershey penalty expired. He dug a rebound out of the pads of Hunter Shepard and shoved it past the Hershey goalie to make it 1-1.

The Bears pulled ahead 2-1 at 2:43 of the second period when Milano was camped at the side of the Charlotte crease and redirected Mike Vecchione’s feed past Guzda for a power-play goal, and his first as a Bear. Bobby Nardella picked up an assist on the goal.

Hutsko netted his second of the evening at 9:08 to draw Charlotte even at 2-2 after driving toward the net and taking a pass from out of the left corner to beat Shepard.

The third period was a goaltending duel that was capped by Shepard and Guzda each trading highlight-reel saves, including a point-blank stop by Shepard on Zac Dalpe with a minute to go.

Chris Tierny won it for Charlotte when he teamed up with Hutsko on a 2-on-1 rush and tapped in a rebound off a Hutsko shot 1:28 into the overtime.

Shots finished 34-29 favoring the Checkers. Shepard finished the night stopping 31 of 34 shots for the Bears. Hershey was 1-for-6 on the power play, while Charlotte went 0-for-2.

Hershey concludes its three-game road trip against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. at the XL Center. 

BEARS NOTES:

Defenseman Gabriel Carlsson played in his 150th career AHL game on Friday and Kale Kessy played his 100th game as a Bear on Saturday.

Since the Checkers moved to the Atlantic Division in the 2017-18 season, Hershey has struggled to find success at the Bojangles Coliseum. The Chocolate and White entered Saturday’s game having lost three straight games in the Queen City, and five of the last six contests in Charlotte have gone to the Checkers. Overall, Hershey is now just 3-9-1-1 on the road in Charlotte and have been outscored 55-34 in that time frame.

The Bears return to Giant Center to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.

** For a chance to win two free tickets to an upcoming Bears’ home game, email your name, email address, home address and phone number to dscottsports@comcast.net to be entered in a random drawing. A drawing for two tickets will take place each week. You must send a separate email to enter each week of the season. Previous winners will not be considered.

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