CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Checkers looked flat. They looked defeated and down 3-0 to the Hershey Bears in their third game of the season with only a handful of shots on goal and kept in check neatly by the visiting team’s defense. However, a late second period goal sparked a comeback that led to the ice being tilted in the third, spelling out a 5-4 comeback win for the home team to stay perfect on the year and handing the Bears their first loss of the season. Alex Lyon got the win in his first game back from his Calder Cup Final celebratory suspension with just 13 saves, while Zach Fucale suffered his first loss of the season with 19 stops.
To the Bears’ credit, they got off and running in a hurry just over a minute in when Sam Anas scored his first goal in a Hershey uniform after an excellent feed from Mason Morelli. Morelli continues his strong start to the season with three helpers in three games, setting up Anas with a lot of daylight for the finish. Hershey would continue the strong start with a shorthanded tally from Riley Sutter, forcing a turnover and blasting a shot past Lyon to double the Bears’ lead. Hershey would make it three in the middle frame when newest Bear Sonny Milano would get his first in the Chocolate and White, batting the puck out of midair and finding Mike Vecchione, who’d set up Garrett Pilon for the Bears’ third goal.
— Bears Hockey Nation (@HBHNationBlog) October 22, 2022
After being in such dire straits for the first thirty minutes of action, the Checkers would get a bounce late in the second period with Anton Levtchi getting credit for his third of the season, and the Checkers would get some shots and pressure before the period was over to get themselves back into the game. Charlotte outshot Hershey 11-4 in the final frame and got goals from Gerry Mayhew and captain Zac Dalpe to even the score at three before Riley Nash scored on the power play to take the lead. Dalpe would get his second goal of the game on an empty net tally, and the Bears would net a goal in the game’s final second with Henrik Borgstrom scoring, but it was too little, too late for the Bears, who continue to struggle in Charlotte. The Bears similarly blew a 3-0 lead in their last set of games at Bojangle’s Coliseum a season ago and have struggled in the arena since the Albany River Rats moved there prior to the start of the 2010-11 season, where the Checkers knocked off the Bears in their attempt at a threepeat championship. Charlotte swept Hershey in the 2019 division final and has just had Hershey’s number of late, even in spite of their multiple affiliation changes.
The Bears won’t have to wait long to try and end the Checkers’ reign, as the two teams will rematch on Saturday at 6:00 PM EST. New head coach Todd Nelson will look to get his group back on track after their first setback of the season, and it will be interesting to see their response in the second game. The Bears had a lackluster night on special teams that ultimately got the best of them, coming up empty on three power play opportunities and looking nowhere as crisp as they did on opening weekend. At the same time, their penalty kill was torched twice on three chances. It all adds up to a subpar second half of the game that killed their momentum in this game. Hershey is without one of their top forwards for the weekend in Mike Sgarbossa, who is away from the team while his wife is expecting the birth of a child.
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