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AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Checkers Sweep Weekend Set With Bears

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Another night, another win for the Charlotte Checkers. This time, it was over the Hershey Bears by a 3-1 decision at Bojangle’s Coliseum for the final meeting between the two teams this season. The two teams combined for fewer goals than a day ago, but the narrative was very similar as the Checkers used a third period power play goal from Zac Dalpe as the eventual winner.

Hershey goaltender Pheonix Copley put on a show despite not being named a star in this one, making 37 saves on 39 shots against, while Joey Daccord earned the win with 20 saves. The loss marks Hershey’s fourth straight and seventh straight overall away from Giant Center.

Special teams played a factor in this one as Charlotte capitalized twice on four power play opportunities. At the same time, Hershey’s came up empty across the weekend and in four tries on Saturday night. Scott Wilson would open up the scoring with another goal against Hershey, taking advantage of a poor line change by the Bears and moving quickly on the rush to make it 1-0. To Hershey’s credit, they’d get on the board in the second period when Brett Leason picked a corner over Daccord’s glove hand and evened the count at one. Much like Friday’s game, an ill-timed penalty by Hershey early in the third eventually spelled doom as Dalpe scored from the top of the right faceoff circle. Charlotte added an empty net goal late to seal the game.

Copley did everything in his power to keep Hershey in the game, including a pair of breakaway saves on Henry Bowlby out of the penalty box and Wilson later on. The duel between Copley and Daccord was naturally low-scoring as the two are ranked at the same 2.36 goals against average and are sixth and seventh overall in the league amongst AHL goaltenders. Copley’s 37 saves tonight match a single game high for him this season, and it took all of those shots for the Checkers to break through and beat him. For Hershey, the gaps in their forward lineup seemed to stick out a little more in this one with a much lower shot count than Friday. The long-running story of recalls and injuries continue to impact the team’s ability to win in these games where the team is able to battle to narrow losses, and not earning a point in this one certainly hurts as much as Friday night’s decision did.

The Bears will look to break their road winless skid on Tuesday in a rare 10:30 AM EST start time for their final road game outside of the state of Pennsylvania when they take on the Bridgeport Islanders in another crucial divisional tilt. Much like the Checkers, the Islanders are rapidly running out of games to play in order to push into the top six teams and lost to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins by a 9-2 count on this night after once leading 2-1. The loss hurts the Islanders as the sixth place Penguins gained some separation as a result. Another good standings result for Hershey on this night was another loss for the Hartford Wolf Pack, who lost an 8-5 decision to the Syracuse Crunch. It suddenly moves Wilkes-Barre in the conversation to move even higher in the standings as Hershey and Hartford feel the heat.

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