The Checkers kept their playoff run alive on Wednesday, gutting out a 2-1 win over Hershey in Game 3 to extend the Atlantic Division Semifinal series.

Charlotte came out hot in the first period, but neither side would cede many opportunities to their opponent . The opening tally didn’t come until two minutes into the middle frame when Sam Anas converted on an odd-man rush, seizing the lead for the home team.

Facing down elimination, the Checkers wouldn’t roll over, however. In the back half of the period Cory Conacher scooped up a Hershey turnover at center ice and bolted in on a breakaway, picking a corner and evening the score at one. With some momentum on their side the visitors continued to push, and less than five minutes later Aleksi Heponiemi caught a long stretch pass from Johnny Ludvig behind the defense and ripped a similar snipe past Hershey netminder Hunter Shepard to claim the lead for Charlotte heading into the second intermission.

Things tightened back up again in the third, and the Bears pushed hard for the equalizer - outshooting the Checkers 9-1 and earning three power plays in the frame - but Charlotte stood its ground. Mack Guzda came up big down the stretch and finished with 21 saves on 22 shots, backstopping his squad to a crucial victory and pushing the series to a Game 4.


Coach Kinnear on his team's play
"I thought we played really well, I thought it was a good hockey game. Obviously the PK and the goalie stepped up in the end, which is what you need in the playoffs. Good win, but we need to move on. We’re playing a really good hockey team in their building. We move on."

Kinnear on Mack Guzda's performance in net
"He played excellent. I thought the whole team in front of him played well. Obviously they have elite skill and elite scorers so it needs to be a team effort. I felt it was a team effort."

Kinnear on the tightness of Game 3
"I thought it was a gutsy effort. It’s playoff hockey, you have to dig in at times, you’re going to bend but you make sure you don’t break. We didn’t break tonight."

Kinnear on bouncing back from Hershey's opening goal
"If you look at our group, even in the Lehigh series, one can’t turn into two. We made a mistake and it was in the back of the net. We bent a little bit, but the guys really dug in and then we scored a couple big goals to build momentum for us."

Kinnear on Cory Conacher's impact
"There’s a lot to like about Cory Conacher. Those type of moments he’s just like ‘This is fun’."

Kinnear on forcing a Game 4
"This group has dug in a lot of times through adverse situations, lots of different guys stepping. That’s what the group has done all year. We’ve got to do it again."