The Charlotte Checkers' comeback came up short against the Hershey Bears
After digging themelves quite the hole, the Checkers nearly rallied all the way back against the Hershey Bears but came up just short.

A shorthanded tally less than two minutes into the contest got the Bears on the board first and they wouldn’t slow down from there. Hershey nabbed another pair before the midpoint of the first frame, then cashed in on a man advantage followed 14 second later by another goal to build a staggering 5-0 lead before the first buzzer.

Charlotte cut into that deficit by breaking the ice late in the frame via a Julien Gauthier wrister, carrying a bit of momentum into the second. The Checkers’ lethal power play finally converted on its fifth opportunity of the night later in the frame, then added a third unanswered goal thanks to a strong play by Warren Foegele picking up his own rebound.

The Checkers’ rally continued to roll on in the third. Outshooting Hershey 30-7 over the final two periods, the home squad pulled within one goal with eight minutes to go when Sergey Tolchinsky hammered a one-timer from the faceoff circle for another power-play goal. Charlotte pushed hard down the final stretch, dominating the possession and creating several golden chances, but they couldn’t quite find that equalizer, dropping the contest by a 5-4 score.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on the first period
Just a terrible start. We weren’t’ mentally or physically engaged in the game and hung our goalie out to dry there. It was really bad, obviously. Saying that, I thought we thought we showed good composure in the second and third coming back and making a game of it. We limited them to I think only three chances for the rest of the game, but you can’t have a start like that. It’s embarrassing.

On the message to the team after the first period
You’re a pro athlete. We’ve got a young team, and you’ve got to understand that you’ve got to come to play every game and if you don’t, you get embarrassed real quick. That was the message. You have a chance to make something of this game, and you need to believe in it, pick away, get one goal and get going.

On preparing to play the last game before the holiday break
Obviously, I didn’t do a good job tonight because I told them before that I knew these young guys already have one foot out the door for the holidays. You’ve got to make sure you’re mentally and physically ready to play. I’m just going to have to remind them again.

Jake Chelios on the start
You could say we weren’t ready to play, and honestly that’s probably the worst start I’ve been a part of in my pro career. Sometimes you’ve just got to weather it and we didn’t weather it. It seemed like everything was going their way. We were making some soft plays in the beginning, they came to play, and it showed with it being 5-0 in the first period.

Chelios on the team’s response
We’re so good this year and our standards are so high, we’re not out of the game, ever. 5-0 after one and we almost came back. You’ve got to fire the guys up. There’s no panic mode and there’s no running around like idiots because you’re down 5-0. We stuck to our game, things ended up teetering our way and we almost came back.

Chelios on being ready for tomorrow’s break with the holiday break just ahead
We emphasized that all week. It’s easy to do, especially with the younger guys who are eager to go home and see their family, but this is pro hockey and you can’t be doing that.

NOTES

The Checkers lost for just the second time in December. Their record for the month is now 7-2-0 … The Checkers’ five goals allowed in the first period was a season high, topping the old mark of three set five times previously … With three goals in his last two games, Foegele is tied for the league lead in rookie goal scoring with 15 … Of Julien Gauthier’s seven goals this season, five have come during the month of December … Prior to scoring tonight, Tolchinsky had sat the previous two games as a healthy extra … This was the Checkers’ first meeting against Hershey since March 2, 2014 … This was the fifth consecutive game in which the Checkers both scored and allowed at least one power-play goal. They are 11-for-25 on the power play (44 percent) and 13-for-20 on the penalty kill (65 percent) during that time … This was the first time all season that the Checkers changed goalies due to something other than injury or an equipment issue … Forwards Mike Ferrantino and Nick Schilkey and defenseman Dennis Robertson were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The Checkers face off against this same Hershey Bears team tomorrow for Carolina Football Night, where they will be wearing jerseys designed by NFL quarterback Cam Newton that will be auctioned off after the game.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.

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