Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre and Aliaksei Protas Score In Bears 5-2 Win Over Checkers

Photo: Jacob Kupferman/Charlotte Checkers

The Hershey Bears downed the Charlotte Checkers, 5-2 Friday night at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. The victory gives the Bears a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five Atlantic Division semifinal series with the Checkers.

After a sloppy start, the Bears slowly began to dial it in and ultimately opened the scoring late in the first period with a tally from Mike Vecchione. The Bears made it 2-0 just two-and-a-half minutes later with a strike from Aliaksei Protas for a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

The Bears quickly made it 4-0 early in the second period on goals from Hendrix Lapierre and Connor McMichael before the Checkers finally scored on a power play early in the middle frame to make it 4-1, the score at the second intermission.

The Checkers closed the gap to 4-2 midway through the final frame but were unable to draw any closer. Mike Sgarbossa added an empty net goal for the 5-2 win.


Hunter Shepard (20-8-5-1, 2.18 GAA, .916 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the visiting Bears. Mack Guzda (16-9-3-1, 2.88 GAA, .897 sv%) got the start in goal for the Checkers. The forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

Mike Vecchione – Mike Sgarbossa – Ethen Frank
Joe Snively – Connor McMichael – Garrett Pilon
Aliaksei Protas – Hendrix Lapierre – Sam Anas
Beck Malenstyn – Riley Sutter – Mason Morelli

Gabriel Carlsson – Dylan McIlrath
Aaron Ness – Logan Day
Lucas Johansen – Vincent Iorio

Hunter Shepard
Zach Fucale

Scratches: Shane Gersich, Henrik Borgstrom, Henrik Rybinski, Matt Strome, Bobby Nardella, Bogdan Trineyev, Julian Napravnik, Jake Massie, Ludwig Persson, Dru Krebs, Alexander Suzdalev and Garin Bjorklund.


After a sloppy start, the Bears ultimately opened the scoring late in the first period. Mike Sgarbossa rifled a shot from the left side, which was redirected by Mike Vecchione for the series’ first tally at 14:12. Mike Sgarbossa (1) and Gabriel Carlsson (1) had the assists.

The Bears quickly made it 2-0 on a close-range strike from Aliaksei Protas at 16:43 of the first period. Sam Anas (1) and Hendrix Lapierre (1) had the helpers.

The first frame concluded with the Bears holding the 2-0 lead. The Bears also led in shots, 6-5. Charlotte was 0 for 1 on the power play while the Bears did not have a man advantage in the first 20.


The Bears quickly made it 3-0 on a goal from Hendrix Lapierre at 2:06 of the second period. Lapierre made a centering pass to Aliaksei Protas but the pass was redirected off the skate of a Checkers defenseman for the score. Sam Anas (2) and Vincent Iorio (1) had the assists.

The Checkers pulled Mack Guzda immediately following the Lapierre tally. He was replaced by J.F. Berube.

Connor McMichael quickly made it 4-0 less than two minutes later. Garrett Pilon (1) and Lucas Johansen (1) had the assists.

The Checkers finally got on the scoreboard with a power play goal from Lucas Carlsson (3) at 5:42. Aleksi Heponiemi (6) and Mackie Samoskevich (3) had the assists.

The second frame concluded with the Bears holding a 4-1 lead. Hershey led in shots 9-6 in the second period and 15-11 after two periods.


The Checkers closed the gap to 4-2 midway through the final frame on a tally from Santtu Kinnunen (2) at 8:52. Riley Nash (1) had the lone assist.

The Checkers pulled J.F. Berube with three minutes remaining and the Bears’ Gabriel Carlsson was called for holding with 2:33 remaining giving the Checkers a 6-on-4 advantage. But the Checkers were called for interference with 52 seconds remaining, nullifying the 6-on-4 advantage.

Mike Sgarbossa added an empty net goal for the 5-2 win.

Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Saturday night in Charlotte. Puck drop is set for 6PM.


  • AHL box score
  • Attendance: 4,605
  • Bears led in shots 25-24.
  • Hershey was 1 for 3 and Charlotte 1 for 4 on the power play.
  • Hunter Shepard stopped 22 of 24 for a .916 game save percentage.
  • Hendrix Lapierre had a goal and an assist, Vinny Iorio had two assists.
  • Stars of the game: 1) Hendrix Lapierre, 2) Sam Anas and 3) Santtu Kinnunen
  • Bears last played on April 15; Checkers last played on April 21.
  • Checkers Logan Hutsko still out after hit from Hendrix Lapierre on April 11.

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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11 Responses to Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre and Aliaksei Protas Score In Bears 5-2 Win Over Checkers

  1. Anonymous says:

    Go Bears!

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s one! 13 more to go.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The kids getting it done.

  4. Prevent Defense says:

    Way to go Hershey Bears!

    NHL Playoff Update: FLA pushes BOS to seventh game. I dare say that Paul Maurice’s guys have given the Bruins fits this series. The Marchand – Pasternak – McAvoy axis looked very mortal this game.

    Looks like FLA gunners might have solved the invincible Linus Ullmark: Shoot high to the blocker side!

  5. novafyre says:

    Stingrags won 4-2 tying their best of 7 series 2-2. Clay was in net stopping 34 of 36 shots as the Everblades outshot the Rays 36-26.

    Bear had a hat trick of assists, helping on the second (a PP goal), third, and fourth (ENG). Lukosevicius scored two of the goals continuing his winning ways. In his 5 regular season games with the Rays he has scored 5 goals and now in 4 playoff games has scored 4. Connor Moore had to be helped (almost carried) off the ice by two trainers in the waning minutes of the game after he got sandwiched but no word on his condition. Has did not play.
    Game 5 is tonight at 7pm.

    • Rich427 says:

      Was at the game last night. Typical tough game between these two clubs. The Ray’s player that impresses me most is Luko. He has a nose for the puck and it always seems to find him. He doesn’t miss many chances. To me the difference in this game was the Ray’s PP goal in the first. As I mentioned before, I think the winner of this series will be the team that can stay out of the box, and in the ECHL that’s not always easy. Puck drops 7pm at Hertz arena.

      • novafyre says:

        I like the last two more than the first two because there has been fewer penalties — but you’re right, it’s like watching a NASCAR race — when’s the next wreck?

        Luko is very interesting. He only played 5 games for the Rays this year, spending most of the season in Belleville. So he’s quite an unknown.

        There are some ‘new’ players on the Rays roster and I think their lack of playing time together has hurt them — they are just not working together as a team, or not the teamwork I saw a few weeks ago.

        FloHockey last night was terrible. Blades audio was often silent — because it was on the Rays audio along with the Rays announcer. Both announcers kept apologizing.
        Watching either stream was an effort. I hope the technical gremlins are gone for tonight’s game.

  6. Prevent Defense says:

    Tom Gulitti composed a 28 April 23 article about Peter Laviolette’s decision to not return to the Caps. It’s in all the NHL internet major sites. A segment:

    “Peter Laviolette doesn’t know if the Washington Capitals would have brought him back as coach because he’d already decided that he would not return next season.
    With his three-year contract expiring, Laviolette told general manager Brian MacLellan his decision during a meeting April 14, the day after the Capitals’ season ended with a 5-4 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. “For me, the contract is up on June 30, and I knew that I wouldn’t be back next year,” Laviolette said Friday in his first comments since the season ended. “So, I just had a good conversation with Brian and expressed that to him.” ”

    Further intel? NovaCapsFans analysis?

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Read that as well. The concerning part is that Lavi wanted out ASAP. Like he said, there aren’t a lot of jobs out there, so for him want out is concerning.

    • novafyre says:

      Tarik has a similar article in The Athletic.

      I felt the last few months that Lavi just wan’t having fun, he wasn’t happy. His decision to move on didn’t surprise me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The prospects take game 1

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