NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Orlando Solar Bears defeated the South Carolina Stingrays 2-1 in game 2 of the South Division Semifinals. Orlando goalie Cal Heeter once again stole the show, stopping 23 of 24 shots. Parker Milner allowed two goals on the 23 shots he faced. Orlando now owns a 2-0 edge in the best of seven series.
The first period was nearly identical to Thursday night’s match. Both teams played physical puck possession hockey. Through all of the hitting and post-whistle dust-ups, the teams remained scoreless after the first frame. The Solar Bears led in shots 9-5 but the better scoring chances seemed to belong to the Stingrays in the period.
The Solar Bears capitalized on the power play in the early seconds of the second period. Orlando had set up a cycle and Hunter Fejes’ cross-ice pass to Max Novac caught the defense out of position for the score. From that point forward, Orlando kept South Carolina on their heels. The Solar Bears continued to outhustle and outwork the Stingrays for the remainder of the game. The Stingrays repeated failed to clear their zone and often gave up unforced turnovers. J.J. Piccinich picked up his second goal of the series, capitalizing off the Stingrays’ inability to clear the zone late in the period.
Down 2-0 in the third period, the Stingrays could only muster a 7-5 shots advantage against the Solar Bears. The Orlando defense shut down the ice in front of Cal Heeter and never let the Stingrays set up sustained pressure. Mason Mitchell broke the 109-minute playoff shutout streak of Cal Heeter with a hard shot from above the right circle. Parker Milner received the secondary assist on the goal as his outlet pass to Joey Leach set up the score.
Both goalies have played extremely well in the series. Heeter has 0.50 goals against average and an incredible .983 save percentage, while his counterpart, Milner has posted a 1.52 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. The difference has been the scoring and how it has happened. The much-vaunted Stingrays penalty kill has allowed one goal on six kills. Additionally, South Carolina has gone 0-9 on the power play while giving up a short-handed goal.
The series switches to Orlando as play resumes Thursday night at the Amway Center.