Orlando, FL - LW Nick Petersen picked up the first hat trick in the ECHL history of the Orlando Solar Bears, helping Orlando to a 5-3 win over South Carolina at the Amway Center on Thursday Night.
Two early penalties from the Stingrays helped boost Orlando to a 2-0 lead early in the first period. C Ryan Cruthers finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play on a 5-on-3 power play, and F Olivier Fortier deflected in a shot from D Michael Wilson on the ensuing 5-on-4 advantage. Three minutes later, Stingrays F Shawn Weller deflected a shot from the point to cut the Orlando lead to 2-1 at 8:16 of the first. Petersen put Orlando back up by two when he hammered home a one-timer at 12:01. Weller kept pace for South Carolina, finishing off a three-on-two rush with just 1:29 to go. Orlando led 3-2 at the end of the opening stanza.
Midway through the second period, Petersen collected his second goal of the night. After stealing the puck in the neutral zone, Petersen bolted into the attacking end and buried a shot in the top right corner of the net to push Orlando to a 4-2 advantage heading into the second intermission.
South Carolina started the final period on a 5-on-3 power play, and 25 seconds in F Tyler McNeely found a rebound off the pads of G John Curry to once again bring the Stingrays to within a goal. Petersen gave Orlando some breathing room at 4:21 of the third, finishing off the hat trick and securing a 5-3 Solar Bears victory.
Orlando is at home against the Greenville Road Warriors on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.