Bears Trail Series 2-0 to Checkers

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Posted May 4, 2019

via Sarah Hobday

CHARLOTTE, N.C — Beck Malenstyn laid face down in the slot while a scrum ensued on the near side boards. Malenstyn skated towards the locker room and the refs skated towards the time keepers table. After the media timeout, Charlotte’s Dennis Robertson was given a match penalty for an illegal check to the head with his team up a goal and just 5:34 left in the first period.

Hershey’s Jayson Megna would score on the power play to tie the game, but the Checkers would score five of the next six, including four in the third, on their way to take Game 2 by a score of 7-3. The AHL’s best regular season team will take a 2-0 lead to Chocolate Town.

“We wanted to get into the win column and even the series, I thought we put ourselves in a decent spot to do that in the first two periods and it just got away from us in the third,” Bears head coach Spencer Carbery said.

Defenseman Ryan Sproul and forward Riley Barber scored the other  Hershey goals. Steve Whitney, Nathan Walker, Aaron Ness, Garrett Pilon and Megna all recorded an assist on the night. Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves in the losing effort.

Robertson’s match penalty was the tip of the iceberg in terms of the physicality. Dylan Steman and Trevor Carrick, who just returned from suspension, were whistled for off-setting minors less than six minutes into the game.

Just under 13 minutes into the game, Liam O’Brien and Derek Sheppard fought just inside the Checker blue line. Sheppard received an additional 10 minute misconduct for continuing to throw punches after O’Brien hit the ice.

Then came the match penalty.

“The check to the head I don’t like. Cause that’s — you got to be careful with those hits in this day and age because you can end guys’ careers. I don’t like that hit where guys are coming across, as a weak side [defenseman] and picking a guy’s head. There’s no room for that.”

 

As for the rest of the physicality, Carbery said “that’s just playoff hockey.”

 

Sproul’s late second period seemed destined as the Bears controlled most of the action out  shooting Charlotte 11-8 in the middle frame. When the teams came back out of the locker room for the third, Charlotte scored two goals in the first seven minutes that stopped any Hershey momentum.

“For whatever reason, it took all the wind out of sails when they scored that fourth goal,” Megna said. “It was a one goal game going into the third period, and they scored that fourth goal and it seemed like we kinda deflated. In the playoffs, in the regular season it’s unacceptable and it’s something we’ll definitely address heading into Tuesday.”

Barber’s reaction to scoring with 3:28 left in the game tells you exactly how the Bears felt. After scoring, Barber didn’t raise his stick or anything. He ignored teammates trying to give him taps and just skated to the redline ready for the face-off.

“He knows its a 6-2 hockey game so … there’s nothing about him scoring the third goal that he needs to celebrate. That’s the way he feels and that’s the same way I feel.”

In the final moments of the game, Joey Leach was called for cross-checking and ended up fighting Trevor Carrick before the scrum around Samsonov was over. The chippiness didn’t end there.

After Charlotte scored on the ensuing power play, Liam O’Brien was whistled for a slashing penalty away from the action as Hershey’s frustration culminated in the 7-3 blowout.

“I think it boils up at some point,” Sproul said. “Where we’re struggling and we want to start laying out the body and start getting to them.

“A little bit chippy and that’s the way the playoffs go.”