ORLANDO, Fla. - Taylor Matson notched two goals and added an assist as the Solar Bears earned a 4-3 victory over the Gwinnett Gladiators at the Amway Center on Thursday night. It was the second straight three point game for Matson after a three assist performance against the Florida Everblades last Saturday.
The Solar Bears grabbed an early lead 5:44 into the first frame. D Cody Wild blasted a one-time shot from the blue line and forward C.J. Severyn gathered up the rebound and moved a pass to Matson who slammed the shot home. Just over four minutes later, at 9:59, F Mike Duco deflected a shot from D Blake Kessel between the legs of G Mathieu Corbeil as the Solar Bears took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
After almost 19 minutes of scoreless action in the second period, the Gladiators cut the Orlando lead in half. F Josh Currie stole a puck behind the net, walked into the low slot and put the puck through the five-hole of G Christopher Gibson at 18:42. Just 25 seconds later, Orlando answered when F Jacob Cepis collected his own rebound and banked a shot into the net from behind the goal line at 19:07 as Orlando continued to lead by two goals after 40 minutes of play.
A little over three minutes into the third period, Gwinnett once again cut the lead to one. D Justin Weller took the puck at the center of the blue line and ripped a slap shot through traffic and into the top right corner of the net to bring the score to 3-2. Matson answered with his second of the game at 9:33 when he took a perfect back door pass from Wild and slammed it into the cage to restore the two goal advantage. Once again, the Gladiators clawed back as Currie's shot from the top of the right circle found its way past Gibson with 4:38 left in the game. The Solar Bears closed the door after the goal, keeping Gwinnett off the board to gather up the 4-3 win.
Three Stars: 1. T. Matson (ORL); 2. J. Cepis (ORL); 3. C. Wild (ORL)
Power Plays: ORL: 1/3; GWT: 1/2
Shots: ORL: 28; GWT: 22
F Taylor Matson has six points in his last two games... The Solar Bears scored the first goal on home ice for the 15th time in 21 games. They are 10-4-1 in those situations... The Solar Bears improved to 5-0-0-2 against Gwinnett this season... Orlando is 4-0-1 in their last five home games... Dating back to three games against the Wheeling Nailers last season, the Solar Bears are now 3-0-0 when wearing Pink jerseys... The Solar Bears improved to 7-2-1 when outshooting their opponent on home ice... D Blake Kessel extended his assist streak to six games. He has 7 assists during that span... Forward C.J. Severyn returned to the Solar Bears lineup tonight for his first game with Orlando since November 28. He had two assists and +3 rating.