CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Max McCormick scored with 4:44 left in regulation thanks in part to a miscue between Hershey Bears goaltender Pheonix Copley and his defensive pair, and the Charlotte Checkers won their home opener by a 5-3 count in the return to play at Bojangles Coliseum. Checkers forward Alexander True capped off a three-point performance assisting on the goal, tallying a goal and two assists. Chris Gibson made 33 saves on 36 shots to secure the win.
The game was a back and forth affair, with the teams trading leads a number of times throughout the contest. The Bears opened the scoring with the first of the season from Aliaksei Protas on an odd-man rush. The Checkers tied the game moments later when True scored his third goal in as many games this season after beating the Bears over the blue line on a rush of their own. Charlotte took the lead towards the end of the first when McCormick scored his first of two goals at the front of the net.
In the second, Hershey got a pair of power-play goals from Mike Sgarbossa and Garrett Pilon to turn a 2-1 disadvantage into a 3-2 lead. Sgarbossa’s tally was an excellent execution of a two-man advantage while Pilon’s goal saw him stuff a rebound of a Mike Vecchione shot past Gibson. Aleksi Heponiemi evened the score less than two minutes later to once again knot the score at three. In the end, McCormick would score the decisive goal when Copley dove out to try and swat a bouncing puck to the corner, and both defenders followed the puck to the corner, leading to True’s centering pass and an easy goal for the Checkers’ veteran. Charlotte got an insurance marker and the first AHL goal for Matt Kiersted on an empty net to seal the win, the first for the Checkers in 590 days between games in their home rink. The announced attendance was 5,317 fans in the return to play for Charlotte.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) October 23, 2021
The two teams rematch in the same place on Saturday evening with a 6 p.m. puck drop. The home team has now won both games at home in the eight-game season series, and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues Saturday night. The loss for Hershey and win for Charlotte brings them even in the standings with two wins and one loss apiece, with 3-0 Springfield now leading the Atlantic Division early in the season.
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