01/12/2012 - CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Ryan Potulny provided two goals and an assist while Keith Aucoin added three more assists to power the HERSHEY BEARS to a 4-3 victory over the Charlotte Checkers on Thursday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The BEARS came out with a stronger effort to start the game, but ended up turning the puck over in their defensive zone two times late in the first period. The first giveaway allowed Chris Terry to take a pass from Nicolas Blanchard and send a wrist shot past the outstretched arm of Braden Holtby at 15:57, while Matthew Pistilli planted his eighth of the season into the net with 27 seconds left in the frame.
HERSHEY cut into the lead in the second period while working on their second power play of the game. Skating four men against three, several quick passes allowed Chris Bourque to feed Aucoin in the left circle. Aucoin one-touched a feed back to Bourque, who then dished to his right. Potulny collected the pass and slapped home his 10th goal of the season underneath Checkers goaltender Mike Murphy at 8:06, cutting the Checkers lead to 2-1.
Down by a goal in the third, the BEARS earned another man-advantage opportunity and took only eight seconds to cash in and tie the game. Jacob Micflikier took a centering pass from Aucoin and slipped a shot underneath Murphy at 4:11. And only 53 seconds later, off of an offensive zone faceoff win, Zach Miskovic had to hurry a pass away from a charging Charlotte winger while at the right point toward the slot. The puck landed on Potulny’s backhand, and the forward promptly turned and spun a low shot past Murphy to give the BEARS a 3-2 lead.
Boyd Kane gave the BEARS insurance by roofing a shot over Murphy at 14:50 off of the third helper by Aucoin, staking the BEARS to a 4-2 advantage.
The goal would prove necessary as Matt Ford was whistled for a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct after he collided with Charlotte’s Nicolas Blanchard late in the period. On the power play, the Checkers got one goal when Zach Boychuk chipped the rebound of a shot from Bobby Sanguinetti through Holtby’s pads at 18:53. The BEARS were able to buckle down defensively, and held on for the victory.
Holtby improves to 13-8-1 on the season, stoping 21 of 24 shots. Murphy drops to 13-10-1, making 24 saves on 28 shots.
The BEARS finished the night 2-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
With the win, the BEARS extend their East Division lead to eight points, and move to 23-8-4-3 (53 points) for the top point total in the American Hockey League.
The BEARS will head to the Southern Tier to take on the Binghamton Senators on Saturday, January 14 at 7:05 PM. The team returns home on Saturday, January 21 for a 7:00 PM faceoff against the Manchester Monarchs. Individual tickets for this and all regular-season home games are on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or by visiting ticketmaster.com.
Game Recap: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1009185
NOTES: Keith Aucoin’s three assists extended his point streak to 13 games, now the longest streak this season in the AHL…Aucoin has 25 points (3G, 22A) in the streak…The BEARS won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods (1-3-1-0) and improved to 4-2-0-0 when trailing after one period…The BEARS have had a multiple-goal game from a player 15 times this season…The BEARS matched a season high with their fourth consecutive victory.