HERSHEY — The Hershey Bears started 2018 with some offensive fireworks.
In their first game of the New Year, the Bears rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Charlotte Checkers at Giant Center on Saturday night. Pheonix Copley earned the win in goal for the Bears with 32 saves, and 12 different Bears had points as Hershey earned its first win on home ice against Charlotte since 2012.
The Checkers opened the scoring in the second frame. At 13:27, Jake Chelios blasted a shot from the point that grazed the bottom of the cross-bar and glanced into the net past Pheonix Copley to make it 1-0 for the visitors.
At 14:44, the Bears answered back on a fortuitous bounce in the offensive zone. John Albert chipped the puck near the net from an angle, and off a deflection, the puck trickled across the crease past Charlotte goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. The goal snapped an unanswered run of 11 straight goals by Charlotte against Hershey, dating back to Dec. 20.
Julien Gauthier was called for an interference minor at 17:59. On Hershey's third power play chance of the night, Barber ripped a shot from the right wing into the net at 19:30 for the Bears' first lead of the night.
Hershey posted a trio of goals in the third period to run away with the game.
At 6:08, Colby Williams extended his club's lead to two on the rebound off a Nathan Walker shot.
At 10:50, Hershey's Zach Sill tallied his third goal of the season in similar fashion. On the rebound in front following an initial try from Mason Mitchell, Sill potted his team's fourth goal.
The Checkers pulled their goaltender in favor for the extra attacker with eight minutes left with hopes of mounting a comeback. Following a timeout called by Bears' bench boss Troy Mann, Hershey forward Wayne Simpson hit the empty net at 13:59.
The Bears improved their record to the .500 mark at 16-16-1-3. Charlotte falls to 21-13-0-1 on the season. The Bears were 1-for-4 on the power play, while Charlotte was 0-for-2. Hershey was outshot by Charlotte, 33-23.
The Bears rematch with the Checkers on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Giant Center.