ORLANDO, Fla. – The Solar Bears defeated one of the strongest teams in the league Wednesday night, coming from behind to hand the Florida Everblades their second straight loss.
The scoring got started a mere 43 seconds into the game when Florida’s Blake Winiecki finished off a rebound from Cameron Hebig, beating Michael Lackey, making his professional debut, and giving the Everblades a 1-0 lead. Just past the midway point of the opening period, defenseman Matt Petgrave fired a shot from the point which trickled past Lackey, extending the Everblades’ lead to two. The goal was changed to Myles Powell‘s after it was ruled he had contacted the puck. However, Orlando’s offense got rolling when Ryan Lohin cut Florida’s lead in half, recording his third lamplighter of the season minutes later. The host team managed to stay competitive with their visitors, despite trailing in the shot category 13-4 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Solar Bears’ onslaught began in earnest less than two minutes into the second period when Tristan Langan, the hero of Tuesday night’s game, banked home a Tyler Bird rebound, knotting things up at two apiece. Jimmy Huntington extended the streak of Solar Bears goals to three, as he tucked one away on a one-timer on a pass from Peter Abbandonato at 7:40 of the period, and the onslaught finally ended when Aaron Luchuk went right around Petgrave and beat goaltender Cam Johnson short-side at 12:32, giving the home team a two-goal advantage.
However, Florida would manage to answer back when Levko Koper buried a rebound to level the game at three goals each after 40 minutes.
Once again, the Orlando offense exploded at the beginning of the third, with Chris LeBlanc and Nikita Pavlychev each recording goals in the first five minutes of the period to salt the game away. This was Pavlychev’s first goal of his professional career. Ryan Lohin put the dagger in the hearts of Everblades fans, securing a long-range empty-netter for his second of the game to give Orlando a 7-4 win.
Michael Lackey secured his first professional win, while Cam Johnson was dealt with the loss. Florida has an advantage in the shot category, with 36 compared to Orlando’s 24. Orlando is now 2-0 at home and improves to 4-1, while Florida fell to 5-2.
The Solar Bears and Everblades will face off again Saturday night in Estero. The following day, the in-state rivals will head northeast and play a matinee game at the Amway Center.
Aiden Foley covers the Orlando Solar Bears for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinSolarBear.