The Hershey Bears put an end to a four-game week on Sunday with a critical battle against the Charlotte Checkers.
Going into Sunday the Checkers had previously won their duel with the Adirondack Phantoms in a shootout. Many would believe Hershey would be given the upper hand coming into the game, as the Checkers had played 65 minutes of hockey the night before, and would have to suffer a six hour bus ride to Hershey.
Sunday’s meeting would be the final of the two teams during 2010-11 regular season. However, with playoffs approaching and both Hershey and Charlotte in the playoff mix, it certainly would be no surprise if the Checkers and Bears battled it out in the postseason.
The Bears came onto the ice Sunday in pink jerseys supporting breast cancer awareness, which were auctioned off after the game for charity. Charlotte was off to the start they intended for, as Nicolas Blanchard slipped a loose puck into the net 31 seconds in to give the Checkers a 1-0 lead.
Trying to shrug off the early offensive attack from Charlotte, the Bears didn’t register their first shot on net until 4:49 into the contest. The Checks would continue to control play through out the opening 20 minutes, out shooting the Bears 10-3 only midway through the first.
The Checkers carried a 1-0 lead into the locker room. They out shot the Bears 12-6 in the opening stanza with three of the six Hershey shots being from the outside, leading to routine stops by goaltender Mike Murphy.
Hershey began getting into penalty trouble to start the second period when Johann Kroll was sent to the box for a slash just under three minutes in. The penalty would be followed by a Drayson Bowman goal at 4:31 to give Charlotte a 2-0 lead.
As the period ran on, Hershey began playing over aggressive in the offensive end sending an extra man in deep on the offensive forecheck. The strategy would back fire on the Bears, as off a turnover Chris Terry entered the Bears’ offensive end on an odd-man rush and beat Bears goalie Braden Holtby for a 3-0 lead.
Frustrations began to rise in Hershey’s corner as Ashton Rome would get into a spirited battle, in effort to light a fire underneath his team. However, the fight would barely lead to any more offensive chances on net for the remainder of the period.
With the Bears down by three at the start of the final inning, Bryan Rodney scored his seventh goal of the season for to put an early end to extend the lead to 4-0. Zac Dalpe added to the lead for the on a 5-on-3 power play goal as time began to run low for Hershey to break their zero in the goal column. Murphy came away with his first shutout of the season as the Checkers beat the Bears, 5-0.
Hershey finished the weekend only taking two points out of six, with the East Division continuing to tighten. The Bears take the ice again in Toronto on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game against the Marlies.