CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Casey Wellman tallied a hat trick, Peter LeBlanc and Nathan Walker added multiple-goal efforts and Philipp Grubauer turned aside 35 shots as the Hershey Bears rolled over the Charlotte Checkers by an 8-1 count on Thursday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
LeBlanc got things started for the Bears 7:21 into the game after Grubauer made a tough save in the Hershey end. David Kolomatis cleared a loose puck away, and Nicolas Deschamps jumped on the puck to send it out of trouble. LeBlanc picked up the puck, skated to the right circle and let a snap shot go through a screen that dipped under the blocker of Charlotte netminder John Muse.
Hershey again added to their lead with a power play goal. Wellman picked off a Charlotte clearing bid in the high slot, then turned and fired a low slap shot. The puck deflected in a high arc and dropped into the net behind Muse at 10:06.
The Bears then took a 3-0 advantage at the exact second of the expiration of a penalty on Checkers captain Brett Sutter. Brandon Segal took a shot from the left point that deflected off of the stick of defenseman Dan Biega, and right to Walker who was stationed inside the right circle. Walker had a virtually empty net to bang home his second goal in as many nights at 15:25.
Charlotte would get on the board late in the opening frame on their first power play chance of the night. Brett Sutter grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone and started a short two-on-one rush. He slid a short pass to his right for Zach Boychuk, who sent a wrist shot over Grubauer’s glove at 18:39.
Deschamps would find the back of the Charlotte net at 6:20 of the second period for his first goal of the season. Derek Whitmore forced a turnover behind the Checkers net, and quickly sent a pass in front for Deschamps to snap over Muse’s shoulder for his first goal of the season.
Hershey then pushed the game out of reach of the Checkers with four third-period goals. The first came when Jeff Taffe created a turnover in the neutral zone and pushed a pass to his left for Wellman. Holding on the odd-man rush, Wellman snapped a shot under the glove of Muse at 6:02.
Whitmore would later be the recipient of a hard hit from Jared Stall, who earned a major penalty for charging. Patrick Wellar was flagged for roughing in the scrum that followed, creating a four-on-four situation. LeBlanc would cash in on an individual effort by racing through neutral ice, beating Charlotte forward Victor Rask all the way and sending a shot through Muse’s pads at 7:56.
On the ensuing power play, Wellman completed his hat trick by waving at a Kolomatis point shot and tipping the puck behind Muse at 8:57.
Rick DiPietro would come on in relief of Muse. After making two good saves from in close, he watched a passing play connect between Matt Watkins and John Mitchell. Mitchell would pass from the right circle into the slot to an uncovered Walker, who tapped a shot through DiPietro’s pads at 11:59.
Grubauer improved to 3-3-1 on the season, while Muse made 19 saves on 26 shots in 48:57 of work in being tagged with the loss.
The Bears move above the .500 mark for the first time this season with the win, improving to 5-4-2-2.
The Bears will wrap up their three-game road trip this Saturday, November 16 with a 7:05 PM faceoff against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Fans may listen to the game live on the Bears Radio Network of affiliates WQIC-FM 100.1, WTKT-AM 1460, WRBT-FM HD-2 94.9, and on the Bears mobile app for Apple and Android devices.
The Bears next home game is set for Saturday, November 23 at 7:00 PM against the Binghamton Senators. The first 5,000 fans will receive a car magnet courtesy of M&T Bank. Individual tickets for this and all Hershey Bears home games are on sale at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or by visiting TicketMaster.com on the internet. Information on season tickets, group tickets and flex plans for the 2013-2014 Hershey Bears regular season is available by calling (717)508-BEAR.
NOTES: D Tyson Strachan was recalled to the Washington Capitals earlier in the day…With Strachan recalled, D Patrick Wey made his AHL debut...The Bears injury scratches were D Julien Brouillette, C Jamie Johnson, D Tomas Kundratek and RW Joel Rechlicz…D Chay Genoway was out due to illness…Healthy scratches were LW Dane Byers and LW T.J. Syner…Hershey finished the night 2-for-7 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill…Casey Wellman’s hat trick was the first by a Bears player since Joey Crabb accomplished the feat on April 14 at Portland… Wellman has recorded power play goals in three consecutive games…The Bears scored eight goals in a game for the first time since an 8-3 win over Albany on January 21, 2011.