Bears Drop Entertaining Battle in Shootout
Charlotte, NC - The Hershey Bears kicked off the first of four meetings with the Charlotte Checkers this season in a 4-3 shootout loss on Friday night at Bojangles' Coliseum. The Bears scored all three goals on the power play after entering the night 1-for-16 on the man-advantage.
Moments after Charlotte's first power play of the game expired, the Checkers capitalized from the low-slot to take a 1-0 lead. After a kick save by Bears goaltender Vitek Vanecek, Nicolas Roy scored on the rebound into an open frame at the 4:18 mark. Later in the period, the Bears drew even on a major power play opportunity. Josiah Didier was handed five minutes for charging, five for fighting and a game misconduct for an illegal hit on Shane Gersich. After Tyler Lewington's retaliatory instigating minor expired, Hershey went on a three minute major power play.
With one second left on the man-advantage, Brian Pinho blasted a one-timer for his first professional goal at the 12:56 mark to tie the game. The penalty fest continued in the first period with Pinho called for Hershey's fourth minor of the night at 17:08. With 1:23 left in the period, Charlotte grabbed a 2-1 lead. Janne Kuokkanen backhanded a lively rebound over Vanecek for his fourth goal of the young season. Shots after 20 minutes were 10-3 Checkers.
Into the second period, the Chocolate and White's offensive tempo began to ramp up. At 7:36 of the second period, the Bears tied the game at 2-2 on their second power play goal of the night. Shane Gersich blasted a one-timer from the left face-off circle past Checkers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. Gersich's tally stood as the only goal between either side in the second stanza.
An entertaining, back-and-forth third period ensued between the two clubs. After Lucas Johansen rang the goal post on an odd-man rush in the opening minutes, the Checkers eventually grabbed their third lead of the night. Jake Bean at the center-point found an open Julien Gauthier on the back-door for an easy layup into an open goal at 8:49. The Bears showed resilience, and Johansen found retribution by finding the equalizer at 10:34. Johansen beat Nedeljkovic with a blast from the right wing for his first goal of the season to even the score at 3-3.
Both teams entered a shootout for the first time this season after a five minute, sudden-death overtime did not award a victor. In the shootout, Morgan Geekie and Martin Necas scored, while Riley Barber and Michael Sgarbossa were denied to give the Checkers the shootout edge and 4-3 win.
The Hershey Bears finished the night 3-for-7 on the power play and 7-for-8 on the penalty kill, including two successful kills of a 5-on-3. Final shot totals were 33-13 Charlotte, despite Hershey's satisfactory amount of scoring chances and offensive zone play.
The Bears return to the ice for the finale of back-to-back games on the road, against the Charlotte Checkers. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Voice of the Bears, Zack Fisch will have the call on the Bears Radio Network.
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