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Checkers Ride Strong Start Past Bears in Game 1

Checkers Ride Strong Start Past Bears in Game 1

May 3, 2019

The Charlotte Checkers posted four goals in the game's opening 11:32 to down the Hershey Bears, 4-1 on Friday night at Bojangles' Coliseum. Charlotte leads the best-of-seven Atlantic Division Finals, 1-0. 

Only 1:42 into the game, Julien Gauthier started the early scoring run for the Checkers. After a collision in the neutral zone, the Checkers blitzed into their offensive zone on an off-man rush. All alone in the low slot, Gauthier went backhand-forehand past Vitek Vanecek to open the score. At 3:56, Derek Sheppard blasted a shot from the center point through a maze of bodies to double his team's lead. 

Aleksi Saarela scored Charlotte's third goal at 10:27 of the first stanza after burying a centering pass by Morgan Geekie beneath the goal line. Only 65 seconds later, Stelio Matteos added the Checkers fourth goal of the period after redirecting a Bobby Sanguinetti point shot past Vanecek low to the ice. The Bears ended the first period on a high note with Chris McCarthy scoring on the rebound of a Connor Hobbs shot at 15:38. Shots after 20 minutes were 15-12 Charlotte after tallying on four of their first eight shots on goal. 

Hershey went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the second frame, but neither team cracked the score sheet. Shots after two periods in Charlotte were 26-16 Checkers. The Chocolate and White killed two more minor penalties in the third period, but were unable to generate any additional offense on Checkers goaltender Dustin Tokarski. Final shots on goal rounded to 38-23 Charlotte.

Both teams rematch for Game 2 of the Atlantic Division Finals tomorrow, May 4 at Bojangles' Coliseum. Puck drop is slated for 6 p.m. Voice of the Bears Zack Fisch will have the call on the Bears Radio Network. 

Hershey Bears in a victory embrace

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