ESTERO, FL – Ryan Massa’s 36 saves helped lift the Orlando Solar Bears to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Everblades in Game 2 of the South Division Semifinals Friday night at Germain Arena. Orlando now leads the best-of-seven series 2-0, with the series shifting to Orlando next week.
The Solar Bears got out to a quick lead just as they did on Wednesday night, with Ryan Moore scoring off of a rebound off of a wraparound attempt by Eric Faille. A rebound bounced perfectly to Moore’s stick and he was able to beat a sliding Alex Nedeljkovic to give Orlando the 1-0 lead at 3:45 of the opening period.
Massa stymied the Everblades of the remainder of the first period and most of the second. Matt Berry was able to finally get the Blades on the board with 4:43 left in the second period– his third goal of the series; on an incredible individual effort. Berry picked up the puck off the boards and skated to the slot where he dangled through two Solar Bears players before ripping a shot past Massa’s glove for the tally.
Just 33 seconds later, Orlando responded after a defensive breakdown by the Blades that left the entire right side of the ice open for Mason Marchment to hit Eric Baier streaking through the middle of the circle. Baier accepted the pass and snuck a shot past Nedeljkovic on his blocker side for the goal.
The third period would start off with a bang, courtesy of Michael Kirkpatrick. Florida started the third period on the power play, and Kirkpatrick broke in along the right side of Massa and with help from an unintentional screen by an Orlando defender, he was able to snap a shot past Massa’s blocker to tie the game up at two.
The Solar Bears were able to regain the lead off of a defensive zone turnover and with Justin Buzzeo able to come in one-on-one on Nedeljkovic and tuck it around the pad to make it a 3-2 game at 11:30 of the third.
Massa would continue coming up big for the Solar Bears for the remainder of regulation, putting away every shot fired his way from that point on. Despite a late push by the Blades after pulling Nedeljkovic for the extra attacker they couldn’t get the tying goal past the strong netminder and Orlando would just hang on for a 3-2 victory.
The Solar Bears will take their 2-0 series lead home, and will have the next two and possibly three games at Amway Center. Game 3 is slated for Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. ET.