OVERTIME GOAL BY BLANCHARD WINS GAME, SERIES FOR CHECKERS
Charlotte to face Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in East Division Finals
HERSHEY, Pa. – Nicolas Blanchard scored 1:30 into overtime as the Charlotte Checkers defeated the two-time defending champion Hershey Bears, 2-1, and clinched the East Division Semifinal series, 4-2.
The Checkers will now face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the East Division Finals beginning Thursday in Pennsylvania.
Hershey, who tied the game with 5:42 to play, was eliminated at home for the first time ever at Giant Center and first time since 2002 overall.
Although he wasn’t tested in overtime, Mike Murphy played a key role, stopping 26 of 27 shots, including several point blank, game-saving stops, and earning his third win of the series.
Charlotte struck first, just 35 seconds into the game, when Brett Sutter took a pass from Zach Boychuk, fired a shot and deposited his own rebound for the early 1-0 lead. Zac Dalpe picked up an assist on what was the Checkers’ sixth straight goal, dating back to the second period of Friday’s contest. Boychuk’s assist gave him at least a point in all six games, the only player on either team to do so.
The Checkers were handed back-to-back penalties just a few minutes later and Hershey went to work on a 5-on-3 power play. The defense clamped down, however, and Murphy made two impressive saves to keep a one-goal lead.
Charlotte got two power-play chances of its own later in the period but was unable to beat Bears goaltender Braden Holtby.
After a relatively uneventful second period, the teams headed to the final 20 minutes tied in shots at 18 apiece.
Sutter’s goal held up until 5:45 remained in the third period, when Hershey defenseman Brian Fahey banked a shot off a Charlotte defender to tie the game, 1-1.
Just 1:30 into overtime, however, Nick Dodge spun free of a Hershey defender along the boards and hit an open Blanchard in front of the net. Blanchard, unguarded, then flipped the puck over Holtby’s shoulder to secure the 2-1 victory and 4-2 series win.
Notes: Zach Boychuk had a point in every game of the series (3g, 4a)…Zac Dalpe and Keith Aucoin led all players in the series with eight points each…Brian Fahey’s third-period goal broke a scoreless streak of 82:48 for the Bears…Hershey finished the series 1-of-28 on the power play…The Checkers had 11 players register multiple points in the series.
Charlotte Checkers 2 (OT) at Hershey Bears 1 - Status: Final OT
Sunday, April 24, 2011 - Giant Center
Charlotte 1 0 0 1 - 2
Hershey 0 0 1 0 - 1
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Sutter 2 (Dalpe, Boychuk), 0:35. Penalties-Terry Cha (slashing), 2:27; Bellemore Cha (holding), 3:14; Souray Her (tripping), 11:16; Rome Her (slashing), 16:18.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Osala Cha (roughing), 5:24; Pinizzotto Her (roughing), 5:24; Wellar Her (elbowing), 5:24; Willsie Her (slashing), 7:57.
3rd Period-2, Hershey, Fahey 1 (Aucoin), 14:18. Penalties-Fahey Her (hooking), 7:31.
OT Period-3, Charlotte, Blanchard 2 (Dodge, Borer), 1:30. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 8-10-11-1-30. Hershey 9-9-9-0-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 0 / 5; Hershey 0 / 2.
Goalies-Charlotte, Murphy 3-1-0 (27 shots-26 saves). Hershey, Holtby 2-4-0 (30 shots-28 saves).
Referees-David Banfield (44), Ghislain Hebert (49).
Linesmen-Bob Goodman (90), Matt MacPherson (94).