Charlotte Upends Hershey, 5-2
A night after scoring his 14th goal of the season in the third period, Saarela opened the scoring only 1:10 in. Along the right wing, he snapped a shot to the top-shelf, beating Bears goaltender Pheonix Copley. The initial call on the ice was a goal despite little reaction and only a signal from the officiating crew. A brief video review followed to confirm the goal.
At 6:20, Clark Bishop added Charlotte's second goal of the night. From the left face-off circle, Bishop sniped a shot high-glove side to extend the lead.
The scoring parade for the Checkers continued at 14:06 on the Checkers' first power play of the afternoon. On a tic-tac-toe passing play, Copley made an initial sensational stop on Lucas Wallmark, but Andrew Miller pounded home the rebound to make it 3-0.
Copley's night came to an end only 2:22 later after yielding his fourth goal on 11 shots to start the game. A center point drive from Josiah Didier at 16:28 beat Copley through a screen.
Vitek Vanecek took over in goal, and the Checkers extended their lead to 5-0 at 19:43. Saarela added his second goal of the afternoon by picking a corner and sniping a shot from the left wing.
In a span of 30 seconds, the Chocolate and White climbed back into the game in the middle frame. On the power play, Riley Barber backhanded a rebound into the net past Alex Nedeljkovic at 14:12 after a goalmouth scramble.
After Barber's team leading 16th goal of the season, Tyler Graovac inched the Bears closer. On the rebound of a Mathias Bau shot, Graovac sent a shot into an open cage to make it 5-2.
The Bears entered the third period in a three-goal hole, and were unable to mount a comeback, dropping a 5-2 decision. Hershey falls to 18-23-3-4, while Charlotte improves to 25-19-0-3. The Bears outshot the Checkers 31-29.
Hershey returns to action on Friday, February 9 at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m.
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