After finishing off the South Carolina Stingrays in five games to begin the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Orlando Solar Bears found themselves facing a familiar foe in Round 2. For the third postseason in a row, the Solar Bears are facing the Florida Everblades, who have ended Orlando’s season each time.
Now, after facing each other 12 times in the regular season, the in-state rivals began another battle, this one to determine who will represent the South Division in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Prepping for the Everblades
So how did the Solar Bears get ready for the second round? Orlando head coach Drake Berehowsky met with the local media on Wednesday.
"We look at our whole team — we need all 10 forwards, all six 'D' and both goalies to produce every night. Everybody's gotta be pulling on the same rope."— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 24, 2019
Coach Berehowsky fields questions from the media at practice this morning. Game 1 at Florida is this Friday. pic.twitter.com/diY0He661T
Here’s defenseman Michael Brodzinski on that same topic:
"We're very energized, we're ready to play. We know Florida's a good team, so we've got to bring our very best."— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 26, 2019
Solar Bears defenseman Michael Brodzinski understands the task at hand as Orlando opens the South Division Finals on the road tonight against the Everblades. pic.twitter.com/xaB1yVCgw1
The second round began in Estero on Friday night.
Tonight’s Projected Lines:— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 26, 2019
Ingram in goal
: https://t.co/fV1V8amhMz or https://t.co/3bqW88lim4
: @TBLPowerPlay pic.twitter.com/KjgUOqjH2M
After a scoreless opening period, the Everblades grabbed the first lead of the series early in the second period. Defenseman Riley Weselowski scored his first of the postseason at the 3:49 mark.
The Solar Bears responded at the midway point of the third period, tying the game at 1 on Hunter Fejes’ fifth goal of the playoffs.
The game went into overtime, where Colby McAuley settled things quickly, scoring the game winner at the :55 mark to give the Solar Bears a 1-0 series lead.
Connor Ingram won his fifth straight postseason start, stopping 29 of 30 Everblades shots. Four Orlando skaters contributed one assist each.
3. Callum Booth (FLA) 25 saves
2. Colby McAuley (ORL) GWG
1. Connor Ingram (ORL) 29 saves
Not a bad way to start the second round — a 2-1 OT win over the Everblades on Friday has Orlando up 1-0 in the South Division Finals.— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 27, 2019
Read up in our @AdventHealth Postgame Report: https://t.co/RoKJQMXvQA
The Solar Bears looked to take a 2-0 series lead back to Orlando on Saturday night.
Tonight’s Projected Lines:— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 27, 2019
Ingram in goal
: https://t.co/fV1V8a4GnZ or https://t.co/3bqW883GXu
: @TBLPowerPlay pic.twitter.com/ppOLecxA4W
Florida took a 1-0 lead 15:46 into the opening period on a goal by Ben Masella, his third of the playoffs. The Everblades doubled their lead 57 seconds into the second period on a power play goal by Blake Winiecki.
However, Orlando was not about to roll over, and they mounted a third period rally. Chris LeBlanc scored his third goal of the postseason at the 6:03 mark to cut the Florida lead in half. Brent Pedersen then tied the game at 2 with 9:24 to go in regulation with his second of the playoffs.
For the second straight night, it was on to overtime. This time, Florida got the better of Ingram—Tommy Thompson scored at the 12:08 mark of the first overtime session to give the Everblades the win, evening the series at one game apiece.
Ingram took the hard luck loss in net, finishing with 29 saves on 32 shots. Including these two gems:
Four Orlando skaters had one assist each.
3. Ben Masella (FLA) 1 goal
2. Tommy Thompson (FLA) GWG
1. Callum Booth (FLA) 41 saves
Around the Kelly Cup Playoffs:
As of Sunday night, here’s how the other second round series are going so far:
Central Division Finals: Cincinnati and Toledo tied 1-1
North Division Finals: Manchester and Newfoundland tied 1-1
Mountain Division Finals: Tulsa leads Idaho 2-0
Orlando returns home to the Amway Center to host Games 3, 4, and 5 against the Everblades. Game 3 is Tuesday, Game 4 on Thursday, and Game 5 on Friday. If necessary, the series returns to Estero for Games 6 and 7 on, appropriately enough, May 6th and 7th.