HERSHEY, Pa. -- The Hershey Bears used three second-period goals to double up the Charlotte Checkers, 4-2, and tie the East Division Semifinals 1-1 on Sunday afternoon.
The series will now shift to Charlotte for Games 3, 4 and 5 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
The Bears got goals from four different skaters and Brian Willsie scored the game-winning tally midway through the second period. Braden Holtby made 22 saves to earn his first win of the series.
Zac Dalpe had two goals on the night for Charlotte and leads all players with five points in the series (3g, 2a), while Justin Pogge made 16 saves in a losing effort.
Hershey opened the scoring midway through the first period on a goal by Patrick McNeill. Andrew Gordon tried to stuff the puck past Pogge and it bounced to McNeill, who backhanded a shot along the ice past the sprawling Charlotte netminder.
The score remained 1-0 until 4:25 of the second period when Bears forward Andrew Kozek took a drop pass from Dmitry Orlov and ripped a shot off the far post and in.
Just 35 seconds later, and in an almost identical play, Dalpe grabbed the puck from Brett Sutter in the slot and fired one past Holtby to bring the Checkers to within one.
Hershey would restore its two-goal lead, however, two minutes later, when Brian Willsie used Kyle Greentree as a screen to beat Pogge.
Charlotte then came storming back and cut the Bears’ lead to 3-2 on the power play. Dalpe took a pass from Bobby Sanguinetti at the left point, skated in and rifled a shot off the near-side post and in. Dalpe’s goal was his third of the series and sixth in six career playoff games against Hershey.
With less than three minutes to play in the second period, Steve Pinizzotto left the puck for Sheldon Souray, who walked in and blasted a slap shot over the glove of Pogge for a 4-2 lead.
The Checkers pulled Pogge late in the third period, but Hershey’s defense clamped down and evened the series at 1-1.
The Checkers (1-1) will host Hershey for Games 3, 4 and 5 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. All games are at 7 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena. For ticket information, visit www.GoCheckers.com or call 704-342-4423.