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After squandering an early lead in Game 1 of the seven-game series to their in-state rival, the Orlando Solar Bears looked to get back on track on Saturday night. The Solar Bears did many things well in their opening game, but a couple of key mistakes cost them a couple of goals, and eventually the game.
Saturday night’s contest could not have started any better for Orlando, as Brett Findlay gave his team a 1-0 lead with a tally at the 11:06 mark of the opening frame. Unfortunately for the Solar Bears, Findlay’s twine-burner would be the climax of their evening. More mistakes, some key defensive mishaps, and several costly turnovers would lead to five straight goals (by five different goal scorers) for the Florida Everblades, the fourth of which would end the night for Garret Sparks, who was thought to be Orlando’s best chance of upsetting the division-winning Everblades. Losing a close game to open the series is tough enough, but getting run out of Germain Arena in Game 2 would add salt to the wound.
Luckily for Orlando, the next three games (if necessary) are on home ice, but there are some serious question marks surrounding this team right now. It will be interesting to see if Solar Bears Coach Vince Williams sticks with Sparks between the pipes, or turns to Maxime Clermont, who had seen a lot more of the Everblades during the regular season than Sparks. Regardless of who starts in net for Orlando, they have to get out of their own way if they are going to have a chance to get back into this series.