Aliaksei Protas Scores Twice, Bears Down Checkers, 6-2, Advance To Atlantic Division Finals

Screen cap: AHL TV

The Hershey Bears downed the Charlotte Checkers, 6-2 Thursday night at Giant Center in Hershey. The victory clinches their best-of-five Atlantic Division Semifinal series with the Checkers, 3-1. The Bears now advance to the Atlantic Division Finals against the winner of the Hartford Wolf Pack and Providence Bruins semifinal.

The Checkers opened the scoring just two minutes into the contest and added a second tally midway through the opening stanza to a take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

After a scoreless first half of the second period, the Bears finally broke through with a tally from Mason Morelli and added a late goal from Beck Malenstyn with 16 seconds left in the period for a 2-2 tie at the second break.

The Bears took their first lead of the game with a goal from Aliaksei Protas midway through the final frame and made it 4-2 on a second goal by Aliaksei Protas late in the period. The Checkers scored on their own goal with the goaltender pulled and Dylan McIlrath added an empty net goal for the 6-2 final.


Hunter Shepard (2-1-0, 1.69 GAA, .922 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the Bears. Mack Guzda (2-2-0, 3.51 GAA, .864 sv%) got the start for the visiting Checkers. The forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

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

Gabriel Carlsson – Dylan McIlrath
Lucas Johansen – Vincent Iorio
Jake Massie – Logan Day

Hunter Shepard
Zach Fucale

Scratches: Ethen Frank (injury), Aaron Ness (injury), Bobby Nardella, Henrik Borgstrom, Henrik Rybinski, Matt Strome, Julian Napravnik, Bogdan Trineyev, Ludwig Persson, Dru Krebs, Alexander Suzdalev and Garin Bjorklund.


The Checkers wasted little time in posting the game’s first tally. Jake Wise (1) notched the game’s opening score at 2:00 of the first. Mackie Samoskevich (4) and Cory Conacher (1) had the helpers.

The Checkers stretched their lead to 2-0 with 12 minutes remaining in the period. Riley Nash (3) scored the Checkers second tally at 7:54. Matt Kiersted (3) and Santtu Kinnunen (4) had the assists.

Beck Malenstyn had the Bears highlight of the opening frame after one of his patented bone-crushing checks knocked out a pain of glass.

The first period concluded with the Checkers leading 2-0. Charlotte led in shots, 8-2. Hershey was 0 for 1 on the power play. The Checkers did not have a man advantage.


After a scoreless tussle for the first half of the second period, the Bears finally broke through the Checkers defense and notched their first tally of the game. Mason Morelli rushed into the zone on a two-on-two break, drove to the net and finished five hole for the score. Mike Sgarbossa (2) and Lucas Johansen (2) had the assists.

Following back-to-back penalties on Joe Snively, one very questionable, Snively made up for it with an unbelievable assist to setup the Bears second tally late in the middle frame. Beck Malenstyn finished for the game-tying marker with just 16 seconds remaining in the frame. Joe Snively (3) had the lone helper.

The second period concluded with the game tied, 2-2. Charlotte led in shots 10-9 in the second period and 18-11 after two periods. Hershey was 0 for 2 and Charlotte 0 for 3 on the power play after two periods.


The Bears took their first lead of the night midway through the final frame when Aliaksei Protas slmammed one home on the power play at 8:59. Sam Anas (3) and Joe Snively (4) had the assists.

The Bears quickly made it 4-2 on Aliaksei Protas‘ second goal of the night at 10:57 of the third period. Sam Anas (4) and Hendrix Lapierre (2) had the assists.

The Checkers pulled Mack Guzda following the second Protas goal. He was replaced by J.F. Berube.

The Bears added two empty net goals late to seal the victory. The Checkers Riley Nash scored on his own empty net to make it 5-2.

Dylan McIlrath added an empty net goal for the 6-2 final.

The Bears now await the winner of the Hartford Wolf Pack and Providence Bruins Atlantic Division Semifinal.



  • AHL box score
  • Attendance: 4,515
  • Bears led in shots 32-28.
  • Hunter Shepard stopped 26 of 28 for a .928 game save percentage.
  • Stars of the game: 1) Aliaksei Protas, 2) Beck Malenstyn and 3) Sam Anas

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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8 Responses to Aliaksei Protas Scores Twice, Bears Down Checkers, 6-2, Advance To Atlantic Division Finals

  1. Anonymous says:

    Onward and upward!

  2. Anonymous says:

    First period and a half were worrisome. They found the touch late in the second period and the series was over.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Malenstyn turned the game around.

  4. Diane Doyle says:

    Proto-typical win. (Can’t resist making a joke about Protas’ name here). Great night for him in any case. And hopefully, a full time NHL job next season. (Somehow, I can envision him in a role similar to Viktor Kozlov and Mike Knuble of yesteryear.)

    • Prevent Defense says:

      Proto-typical! Well described! Pro shoved in two goals after Beck the Check squashed opponent and crashed glass panel into the crowd!

      I like the Protas comparisons to Knuble and Kozlov. Great analogy! I might throw in Chris Simon as a Caps’ forebear to Malenstyn’s crunching hit that flipped the game’s momentum.

      A Calder Cup ceremony would ease some of the pain of the Caps’ disaster season. Let’s Go Hershey Bears

  5. Jon Sorensen says:

    Greetings folks! Just a quick note, if you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps posts in the “subscribe” box located in the upper right corner. Thank you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Checkers brought a new scheme to Hershey and it worked for 4 1/2 periods. Nelson finally cracked it in second half of last nights game.

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