ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Solar Bears (5-4) saw their 2017-18 campaign come to a close on Sunday afternoon as the team fell in Game 5 of the South Division Finals to the Florida Everblades (8-1) by a 5-2 score at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center.
The Everblades won the series four games to one, and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will play the winner of the North Division Finals between the Manchester Monarchs and Adirondack Thunder (series tied 2-2).
Click here for the box score.
The Solar Bears were forced to play down a man for five whole minutes at the 5:54 mark of the first period after Martins Dzierkals was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct following a hit on Florida’s Gus Young.
On the ensuing five-minute penalty kill, the Solar Bears allowed two power-play goals to the Everblades, with Mitchell Heard scoring at 7:08 and Spencer Smallman at 7:39.
After Michael Kirkpatrick scored at the 16:02 mark the Solar Bears pulled Skapski and replaced him in between the pipes with Cal Heeter.
Steven Lorentz extended the visitor’s lead to four goals when he struck at 1:46 of the second period.
Chris LeBlanc got Orlando on the board with a shot from the left corner that deflected off the skate of Florida’s Keegan Kanzig and past Martin Ouellette at 6:56 of the frame.
LeBlanc then added a power-play goal to pull the Solar Bears back to within two goals at 16:07 as Hunter Fejes swooped behind the net before feeding LeBlanc in the slot for the tally with the man advantage.
With just over three minutes remaining in regulation, the Solar Bears pulled Heeter for an extra attacker, but John McCarron sealed the game with an empty-net goal for Florida at 18:18.
Skapski took the loss with 11 saves on 14 shots against in 16:02 of action, while Heeter made 22 stops on 23 shots against in 40:07 of relief; Ouellette earned the victory with 40 saves on 42 shots against.
- Despite the series loss to the Everblades, the Solar Bears conclude the 2018 postseason having earned their first-ever playoff series victory with a four-game sweep of the South Carolina Stingrays in the opening round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
- Orlando’s three wins on home ice also set a new franchise record for home wins in a playoff year.
- Fejes led Orlando in playoff scoring with nine points (3g-6a) in nine games.
- The Solar Bears outshot the Everblades by at 42-38 margin, marking the first time the Solar Bears outshot an opponent in the 2018 postseason; Orlando’s 42 shots on goal also established a new franchise single-game playoff record, eclipsing the mark of 40 set on April 29, 2014 vs. Cincinnati.
- LeBlanc, Max Novak and Jean Dupuy each led Orlando with five shots on goal in Game 5.
1) Mitchell Heard – FLA
2) Michael Kirkpatrick – FLA
3) Steven Lorentz – FLA
2018-19 SEASON TICKET MEMBERSHIPS:
Season Ticket Memberships for the seventh season of ECHL Orlando Solar Bears hockey are now on sale. Full and Half-Season memberships are both available, starting as low as $270. For more information, call (407) 951-8200 or visit orlandosolarbearshockey.com.
About the Orlando Solar Bears:
The Orlando Solar Bears are members of the ECHL, the premier “AA” hockey league in North America, and have qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs in four of six seasons. The Solar Bears are also the proud affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. The Solar Bears are owned and operated by the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family, and play at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center, the 2012 Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year.
Officially licensed Orlando Solar Bears replica team jerseys, apparel, and headwear can be purchased at orlandosolarbearshockey.com/shop.