Solar Bears fall 5-4 in tight match with Atlanta
ORLANDO, Fla. – Joe Perry set a new individual single-season goals record for the Orlando Solar Bears (27-19-6-3), but the team could not complete a late comeback as Orlando fell to the Atlanta Gladiators (21-25-6-1) by a 5-4 score on Friday night at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center.
Click here for the box score.
Chase Witala opened the scoring for the Solar Bears when he teamed up with Austin Block and Alex Gacek on a give-and-go play that resulted in Gacek feeding a pass to the left side of Matt Ginn’s crease, allowing Witala to tap home the puck just 3:49 into the match.
The Gladiators got the tying score from Rory Rawlyk shortly after Orlando successfully killed off a penalty to Michael Turner, as A.J. White flipped the puck from the bottom of the right circle across the slot, and the Atlanta defenseman snapped the puck past Kasimir Kaskisuo at 7:56.
Orlando gained a 2-1 lead in the second period with a power-play goal when the Gladiators turned the puck over during an odd-man shorthanded rush, leaving Witala and Gacek to break in on a 2-on-1 situation, with Witala sending a pass behind Atlanta defenseman Tommy Vannelli to Gacek who chipped the puck past Ginn at 3:57.
Connor Gaarder brought the score back even at 14:04 when he made his way toward the crease and tipped a Justin Buzzeo pass through the legs of Kaskisuo, and Atlanta gained its first lead of the night at 15:15 when Derek Nesbitt retrieved the puck at the bottom of the right circle and took advantage of a falling Daniel Maggio to gain enough space to snap a shot past Kaskisuo’s blocker.
Perry’s history-making goal came at 5:43 of the frame when Milos Bubela made his way behind the net and threaded a backhand pass across the crease to Perry, who fired a shot past Ginn to tie the score at 3-3. The goal was Perry’s 28th of the season, breaking the previous mark of 27 he had shared with Mickey Lang that was previously established by Lang during the 2013-14 campaign.
Alex Guptill then struck immediately following a faceoff in the Orlando zone to make it 4-3 at 6:16, but Brenden Miller tied the score with a blast from the left point at 9:33.
Rawlyk provided the game-deciding goal when Kaskisuo made a blocker save on Tyler Shiplo’s shot from the point, but the attempt by the defense to clear the zone was intercepted by Rawlyk, who slapped the puck over the shoulder of the goaltender at 11:35. Despite a valiant effort with Kaskisuo pulled for an extra skater late in regulation, Orlando was unable to find a final tying score.
Kaskisuo took the loss with 37 saves on 42 shots against; Ginn earned the victory with 42 stops on 46 shots against.
Despite the defeat, Orlando remains in third place in the South Division after Greenville fell 5-3 at Norfolk, and South Carolina’s game at Rapid City was postponed due to an ice issue at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Three Stars:1) Rory Rawlyk – ATL2) Tyler Shiplo – ATL3) Joe Perry – ORL
NEXT HOME GAMES:
- Solar Bears vs. Atlanta Gladiators – Sunday, Feb. 26 – 1:30 p.m. – FAIRWINDS Solar Bears Sunday
- Solar Bears vs. Greenville Swamp Rabbits – Thursday, March 2 – 7 p.m. – Thirsty Thursday – Fans can enjoy $5 domestic draft beers throughout the Amway Center. Fans can also take advantage of $2 Coors Light drafts before and after Thursday’s game, along with food specials at Ferg’s Depot on Church Street. Fans can purchase discounted game tickets for as low as $14 at orlandosolarbearshockey.com/fergs.
- Solar Bears vs. Greenville Swamp Rabbits – Saturday, March 4 – 7 p.m. – Noche Latina presented by Auto Justice Attorney Michael T. Gibson, P.A.
The Solar Bears mobile app, presented by BB&T, gives Solar Bears fans everything they need right in their pocket. The app is also home to the brand-new Loyalty & Rewards Program, which provides Solar Bears fans with opportunities to accumulate points and redeem them for exclusive prizes. The app is FREE and available for both iOS and Android devices.
The Orlando Solar Bears are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and AHL’s Toronto Marlies, and play all of their home games at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center, the 2012 Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year.
Follow the Solar Bears at www.OrlandoSolarBearsHockey.com, Facebook, and Twitter (@OrlandoHockey) for all the latest news and updates. Stay in touch with Shades on Instagram by following SolarBearsHockey.
Season tickets, Corporate Flex vouchers, and Group tickets are a great way to entertain employees, co-workers, clients, friends and family. For more information on all of the Solar Bears ticket packages, call (407) 951-8200 or visit orlandosolarbearshockey.com/groups.
Officially licensed Orlando Solar Bears replica team jerseys, apparel, and headwear can be purchased online at orlandosolarbearshockey.com/shop.