ORLANDO, Fla. – After falling to the Worcester Railers on Friday, the Solar Bears looked to get back in the win column and take the season series with the Worcester Railers on Saturday. And they did just that, in a battle to the finish line.
The game started out similar to Friday’s match, with Orlando falling behind. Worcester’s T.J. Syner grabbed the first goal for the Railers at 9:18 of the first.
However, the Solar Bears weren’t going to let this be a rerun of Friday, as Mike Monfredo tallied a goal with eight seconds to go in the first period. Monfredo has become a key spark for Orlando lately. He has contributed offensively, and he has also become a valued antagonizer of enemy squads.
The next two periods would see a showdown of the goalies, as neither Orlando’s Mackenzie Skapski nor Worcester’s Mitch Gillam would allow any shots to get by them. Both of the team’s defense lines were spot on as well. The two teams would enter the overtime period tied up at one goal apiece.
After a scoreless overtime period, the two teams headed to a shootout to determine which goalie would fall. The shootout began with mirror performances that were uncanny. Orlando’s Martins Dzierkals bobbled the puck in the first round and failed to make a shot, but Worcester’s Matt Lane had puck control issues of his own that led to a bungled opening attempt.
Orlando’s Joshua Winquist and Worcester’s Tommy Kelly both found the net in the second round. But J. J. Piccinich would snag the victory for Orlando with a tally in the fourth round. Skapski held his ground, only letting one shot go by in the shootout to give Orlando the much needed two points against the Railers.
This win should give the team some much-needed momentum as they head into a two-game series with the powerhouse Florida Everblades this week. Saturday’s victory against Worcester was an emotional and gritty performance, and the team is looking for that experience to give them the confidence to build a streak. It was clear both from the on-ice play and from the responses in the post-game press conference that the team has found a new sense of urgency and toughness in its play.
When questioned as to what the team needs to do to prepare against Florida, Piccinich, said,
“The most important key is going to be sticking to our structure. When we work hard, we do a really good job, and it’s going to be one of those games where they’re going to stay really structured as well. It’s one of those things where, if we can outwork them in the corners and get more zone time than them, then we should be able to pull out a victory.”
One notable quirk of the game against the Railers was that the Solar Bears found themselves on the penalty kill at the start of three of the four periods of play. Asked about this situation, head coach Drake Berehowsky noted,
“It shows a lot of resilience by us, I believe. . . . I loved the fact that we built momentum off that. Specialty teams are supposed to do that. They are supposed to be energy givers, not energy takers. I thought we did a good job building momentum and energy from the kills.”
The Solar Bears will return home Wednesday to kick off a home-and-home series with the Everblades on Wednesday and Friday night, then will host the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday.