ESTERO, Fla. - The Orlando Solar Bears scored four straight goals, including three in the final 4:24 of the third period, to force overtime before eventually falling 5-4 to the Florida Everblades at the Germain Arena in their first-ever ECHL game on Friday Night.
The Everblades took full advantage of early momentum at their Home Opener, as with a delayed penalty coming to the Solar Bears, LW Mathieu Roy found himself all alone in front of the net and tucked a quick pass just by Solar Bears G John Curry to give Florida a 1-0 lead at 2:52. D Bobby Raymond increased that lead to 2-0 when he slammed home a rebound on a 5-on-3 power play just under 10 minutes later, and F Matt Beca picked up his third point of the frame when he fired a rebound under the crossbar with 1:57 left in the first, and the Everblades skated into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead.
Neither side was able to strike in the second period until C David Rutherford pushed the Florida lead to 4-0 when he deposited a backhander into the net at 14:53. Orlando answered one minute and one second later, as LW Nick Petersen got to his own rebound and jammed it home. The power play goal was the first ECHL goal in Solar Bears history.
Orlando started the comeback effort late in the third period as C Ryan Cruthers tallied a shorthanded goal with 4:26 left to play to make it a 4-2 game. It was followed up 1:21 later as F Scott Tanski left the penalty box, collected a pass in the top of the slot, and buried his chance to cut the Everblades lead in half. C Mathew Sisca then evened the game up at 4-4 with just 31 seconds remaining and on the power play, forcing the contest into overtime. The extra frame was short-lived, as Rutherford picked up his second of the night for the Everblades, boosting them to a 5-4 win. The Solar Bears out-shot Florida 47-32, including a 33-18 margin in the final two periods.
Three Stars: 1. M. Beca; 2. D. Rutherford; 3. J. Muse
Power Plays: ORL: 2/4; FLA: 1/5
Shots: ORL: 47; FLA: 32
The puck and stick from the Solar Bears first goal will be shipped to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto... Corbin Baldwin, Josh Caron, and Ian Watters made their professional debuts tonight. Caron received a five-minute fighting major in the first period for the first ECHL fight for Orlando... The Solar Bears special teas account for three of their four goals, as they scored twice on the power play and once shorthanded.