Patrick McNeill tries to hold off Nicolas Blanchard. Photo by Checkers SmugMug.
The story of this series against the Charlotte Checkers has been offense. Both teams are incredibly offensively talented and the score usually shows that. Tonight was no exception.
It was all Hershey for the first two periods. Steve Pinizzotto scored the first goal of the game after Boyd Kane took a Charlotte turnover and dished it to Pinizzotto. Pinizzotto won’t miss that shot often. 1-0 Hershey. The Bears kept frustrating the Checkers by maintaining constant control of the puck and not allowing Charlotte to garner any momentum.
Mathieu Perreault scored quickly at the start of the second period to give Hershey some breathing room. After Braden Holtby made a great save on the Checkers, the Bears moved the puck the other direction. Brian Willsie got the first shot off and Perreault came crashing towards the net to capitalize on the rebound.
I’ve been a fan of Andrew Carroll since we picked him up from the Reading Royals. Tonight, he had one of the best games I’ve seen from him. All of his hard work paid off when he scored his first AHL career playoff goal. With his back to Murphy, he backhanded the puck into the goal as he was losing balance. It’s the kind of gritty goal you would expect from him.
A few minutes later, the Checkers dumped the puck and Braden Holtby went to play the puck behind the goal. Unfortunately, the puck hit the boards and bounced back out to the front of the goal. Brett Sutter crashed the net and made sure the puck went in, giving Charlotte their first goal of the game.
A two goal lead going into the third period is nice. But as Tim Leone warned us on Twitter, the Checkers have outscored the Bears 5-2 in the third period during this series. They proved this point when Charlotte scored on the power play just one minute into the third.
To make things worse, the Checkers tied it up a few minutes later. Oskar Osala had a 1-on-none breakaway. Holtby stopped the first shot but Osala converted his own rebound to get the game-tying goal.
The tables had completely turned. The Checkers now kept control of the puck and the inevitable finally happened: Nick Dodge scored after rushing to the net to give Charlotte the first lead of the night. There was a brief conversation about whether it was kicked in or not but it was eventually determined to be a good goal. Once they had the lead, the Checkers were content to play it safe. Even when the Bears pulled Holtby, they still couldn’t get anything done. The Checkers scored an empty net goal and the Bears lost 5-3. Charlotte now leads the series 3-2.
- During the second period, Kane was boarded by Nicolas Blanchard. He was down on the ice for a little and Dan Stuck came out to see him. He skated on his own and stayed on the bench. He seemed to be okay since he skated a few shifts later.
- Dmitry Orlov had a nice hit towards the end of the second period. Orlov ducked and hit a Checker, who toppled over the back of Orlov.
- Orlov also had a minor injury during the third period. He blocked a shot and fell to the ice. He hobbled to the bench but was back on the ice for his next shift.
- After tonight, the Checkers have outscored the Bears 9-2 in the third period. If the Bears have any hope of winning this series, they need to learn how to shut the Checkers down during the crucial third period.
Lines and Pairings:
Kane – Aucoin – Pinizzotto
Greentree – Perreault – Willsie
Carroll – Joudrey – Rome
Kozek – Lacroix – Bouchard
McNeill – Fahey
Souray – Orlov
Wellar – Miskovic
Actual three stars of the game:
1. Nick Dodge (CHA)
2. Oskar Osala (CHA)
3. Drayson Bowman (CHA)
Sweetest Hockey On Earth’s three stars of the game:
1. Carroll: great game, scored first AHL career playoff goal
2. Orlov: on ice for two Hershey goals and no Charlotte goals
3. Perreault: goal and assist