A strong start wasn’t enough for the Checkers in Game 4 of the Atlantic Division Semifinal, as the Bears rallied back and ended Charlotte’s season with a 6-2 defeat.
The newest addition to the lineup drew first blood for the visitors, as Jake Wise - making his pro playoff debut - put Charlotte on the board just two minutes in by redirecting a Mackie Samoskevich feed past the outstretched Hunter Shepard. Riley Nash followed that up minutes later with a tip-in tally of his own, and the Checkers headed into the first intermission in a prime position.
Hershey turned the tide in the middle frame, however, with Mason Morelli crashing the net to put his squad on the board midway through the period and Beck Malenstyn beating the buzzer to deadlock things after 40 minutes of play.
The Bears harnessed that momentum going into the third and, just before the nine-minute mark of the frame, Aliaksei Protas lit the lamp to give Hershey its first lead of the night. Protas would tack on another less than two minutes later and the Bears were off to the races. Despite a myriad of chances down the stretch, the Checkers couldn’t chip back into the deficit, and a pair of empty netters sealed the deal on Hershey’s 3-1 series victory.
The Checkers finished the 2022-23 campaign with a 39-25-8 record in the regular season and a 3-4 mark in the playoffs. They made the postseason for the fifth consecutive season and won at least one round for the fourth consecutive season … Wise, who signed a tryout deal at the conclusion of his college season, had three points (1g, 2a) in his first two career AHL games … This was the first time Guzda had played on consecutive days all season … The Checkers allowed two shots in the first period, nine shots in the second and 21 in the third … Grigori Denisenko was back in the lineup after missing the first three games of the series … Checkers scratches included forwards Riley Bezeau, Skyler Brind’Amour, Xavier Cormier, Josh Davies, Logan Hutsko, Ethan Keppen, Ryan McAllister, Kai Schwindt, Mark Senden, Wilmer Skoog and Justin Sourdif; and defensemen Marek Alscher and Dennis Cesana.