Connor McMichael And Joe Snively Score, As Bears Thump Checkers 5-1 To Take Commanding 2-0 Series Lead

Photo: Jacob Kupferman/Charlotte Checkers

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

After a scoreless first frame, Joe Snively opened the scoring in the second period with a power play goal and Mason Morelli added a late tally for a 2-0 Bears lead at the second intermission.

The Checkers cut the Bears lead to 2-1 midway through the third period but the Bears would quickly answer with goals from Connor McMichael and Sam Anas to make it 4-1. Garrett Pilon added an empty net goal to make it 5-1, the final.


Hunter Shepard (1-0-0, 2.00 GAA, .917 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the visiting Bears. J.F. Berube (1-0-0, 0.47 GAA, .982 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.


Cautious play highlighted the first 20 minutes of Game 2 as both teams did a good job thwarting zone entries, clogging the middle of the ice and minimizing sustainable zone time by the opposition.

The Bears were awarded the game’s first power play with a little over six minutes remaining in the period, but were unable to generate much in the way of decent scoring chances.

The Checkers went to the power play right after the expiration of the Bears initial power play on a very questionable tripping call on Aaron Ness.

Regardless, the Bears penalty kill was up to the task and did a good job of boxing out the Checkers on the man advantage, keeping the score 0-0.

The first period concluded with no score in the first 20 minutes. Charlotte led in shots 6-3. Both sides were 0 for 1 on the power play.


The second period began very much in similar fashion as the first period, as both teams continued to jam the middle and hinder zone entries. The Bears didn’t crack the 10-shot mark until the very end of the period.

However, it was the Bears that finally broke the silence with a power play goal from Joe Snively at 6:46 of the second period. Garrett Pilon (2) and Aliaksei Protas (1) had the helpers.

The Bears made it 2-0 on a tally from Mason Morelli at 14:55 of the second period. Center Riley Sutter made a nice centering pass to setup the score. It was Sutter’s first postseason point.

The second period concluded with the Bears leading 2-0. Charlotte led in shots 11-7 in the second period and 17-10 after two periods.


The Checkers cut the Bears lead in half midway through the final frame. Ryan McAllister (1) notched the Checkers first tally at 9:15 of the final frame. Riley Nash (2) and Lucas Carlsson (3) had the assists.

But the Bears would quickly answer. Connor McMichael scored his second goal in as many games to make it 3-1 at 9:50 of the final frame. Garrett Pilon (3) made a beautiful feed and McMichael finished with a nifty backhander in the crease. Joe Snively (1) had the second assist.

The Bears made it 4-1 with a goal from Sam Anas just 23 seconds later. Aliaksei Protas (2) had the lone assist.

The Checkers pulled their goaltender with more than five minutes remaining, but Garrett Pilon added an empty net goal to make it 5-1, the final.

Game 3 of the series is set for Wednesday in Hershey. The Bears can clinch the best-of-five series with a win.


  • AHL Box Score
  • Attendance: 5,533
  • Charlotte led in shots 20-16.
  • Garrett Pilon had three points (1g, 2a)
  • Hunter Shepard stopped 19 of 20 for a .950 game save percentage.
  • Stars of the game: 1) Joe Snively, 2) Garrett Pilon and 3) Hunter Shepard.
  • Hunter Shepard stopped 41 of 44 in back-to-back starts for a .932 save percentage in Charlotte.

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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25 Responses to Connor McMichael And Joe Snively Score, As Bears Thump Checkers 5-1 To Take Commanding 2-0 Series Lead

  1. Anonymous says:

    Carolina sweep!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Go Bears!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hunter Shepard is a stud. Starts and wins in back-to-back nights.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      41 of 44 in back-to-back nights. Not too shabby.

    • GRin430 says:

      Shepard has definitely been the Bears best player in this series so far. He isn’t big or particularly flashy, he just stops the puck from going in his net. Which, if I understand it right, is the job.

      And He’s a UFA after this season. Forget about extending Sandin for 8 years, sign Shepard to a multiyear NHL contract and move Lindgren for whatever you can get. Not that I dislike Charlie, but they should get a draft pick back if they trade him, and Shepard could walk with the Caps getting nothing back. More importantly, if I needed my backup goalie to play in a pressure/playoff game, I’d count on Shepard to help the team win more than I’d trust Lindgren.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        I’m with ya re: Shepard. The part I cant get passed is the fact that the Capitals didn’t want to give him a game. He was called up mid-season and they didn’t even want to give him one shot. Not sure if that was Lavi, goaltending coaches are what the deal was.

        He certainly earned a game, in my book, having watched each and every one of his games. He’s better than Fucale and Lindgren. But I can speak for what the Capitals are thinking.

        Shepard is extremely soft spoken, seemingly shy and might not convey a great amount of confidence, but im just speculating what the Capitals were seeing.

  4. Prevent Defense says:

    HER Aaron Ness poke-check was perfectly executed and non-tripping
    NJD Dawson Mercer poke-check was perfectly executed and non-tripping

    >> Mercer’s maneuver against Patrick Kane led to an exceedingly cheap NYR goal. Check out the highlights. HER killed off Ness’s non-penalty, lucky for us<<

    Inconsistent! For years the AHL and NHL have allowed successful poke-check (if you missed the puck, two minutes for tripping). Suddenly late this season it's a foul either way. Urrgh.

    • GRin430 says:

      The refs definitely blew that call, and were not great overall tonight, but still better than the first game, when I was sure a closeup of their shirts would show a Checkers logo. Almost makes me wish the AHL would use NHL officials for the playoffs.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I watched the play a dozen times. If that was technically a penalty on the stick follow through, the league needs to change the rule, as they are discouraging what i deemed to be an excellent play by Ness.

      I don’t believe the league wants to chase those types of plays from the game.

  5. novafyre says:

    Rays lost 4-0 despite taking 35 SOG. Clay was in net and allowed 3 goals on 16 shots (last Blades goal was ENG). Next game Monday 7pm in North Charleston. Blades lead series 3-2.

    • Rich427 says:

      novafyre, I was at the game tonight and have to say it was a bit odd. If you only looked at the score you might think it was one sided, and it was not. In fact I thought the Ray’s outplayed the Blades in the first 2 periods. Even though the Blades had a goal in each of the first 2 periods, most of the play took place in the Blades end of the ice. It wasn’t until the Blades killed off 2 penalties that overlapped by about 40 seconds (5 on 3) that the momentum changed at the start of the 3rd period. Most of the 3rd period was controlled by the Blades except for the last 4 minutes or so while the Ray’s made a push with 6 on 5. Ray’s out shot Blades 35 to 17 but Cam Johnson just had an excellent game in net. Series moves back to Charleston with game 6 on Monday.

      • novafyre says:

        Thanks. Yeah, I got that ‘odd’ impression from seeing SOG 35-17 yet goals 0-4. If FloHockey cooperates, will be watching the game today.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        Rich, I would love to hear your unbiased take on a few players, beginning with Martin Has.

        • Rich427 says:

          Jon, in the 3 playoff games that I’ve seen, which is a small sample, in person Has didn’t standout to me. That doesn’t mean he had bad games, just wasn’t as noticeable on the ice as other Dmen, such as Reddenkopp, Moore, and Kim. Rkopp is big and shows his presence in front of the Rays crease. He does a decent job of trying to move opponents from in front of Stevenson. Moore and Kim are not big Dmen, but they can skate and handle the puck. All 3 will jump in on a rush in the Ozone. If I had to pick between the 3, Kim has impressed me with his skating and stick checking. Moore, unfortunately, got crunched between 2 checks towards the end of game 2 and didn’t play last night. You asked for my opinion, and that’s off the top of my head. I didn’t try to dig up any data like +/-, etc. Just what I saw and mentally took note of during the games. I hope that helps.

      • novafyre says:

        After watching the game I felt that although the Rays had the shot quantity, they did not have quality. Yes, Johnson had to stop a lot of shots but I just never felt he was pressured or threatened. And the Rays went 0 for 5 on powerplays. For a team which led the league during the regular season, that was awful.

        Connor Moore who was injured in the third last game did not play but Has did.

  6. GRin430 says:

    It’s been fun these 2 games to root for a team that plays hard in all zones, hits, supports each other on the ice, protects its goal crease and finishes scoring opportunities. And the most fun part of it all is that the guys who are playing that way are the ones the Caps drafted or are considered to be part of their system, not the AHL lifer free agents like Vecchione or Sgarbossa, who have been fine… but McMichael, Protas, Snively, Pilon, and especially Sutter and Malenstyn have been better.

    And speaking of Beck the Check… The Caps desperately needed that guy in DC this past year. He just makes good “stuff” happen all over the ice. He isn’t likely to ever score 20 goals in the NHL, but he’ll make it a lot easier for the rest of his team to score, and defend. I love Hathaway, but he takes some really stupid penalties. Malenstyn just plays really, really hard, and really, really well. Whoever comes in to coach next year would be an absolute idiot if they didn’t have him in the Caps’ lineup and on the ice for at least 15 minutes every damned night.

  7. GRin430 says:

    And finally, Todd Nelson deserves a serious look as the next Caps coach. This team is clearly well prepared and plays the right way, and having him in DC would make it more likely that the young guys would get a fair chance at making the roster.

  8. Prevent Defense says:

    Here Here, Well Said by Everybody!

    NHL Last Night had some glory:
    – Leafs Nation finally has a Series Win! And against the Arrogant Cooper Unions! Well Done! At least for a few days, they’re not the Maple Laughs
    – EDM moves on. Will McDavid live long enough to hoist the Stanley Cup!?
    – And three Game Sevens coming up. I love Game Sevens!

    For all of our Angst over the Caps — they COULD be really good in 23-24. But it will require non-bonehead Management Decisions. A tall order!

  9. Jeremy says:

    I’m not jinxing this, but the Bears have looked pretty solid this series

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