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Solar Bears Postseason Update #4

The journey to the Kelly Cup ends in the second round.

A Week With The Orlando Solar Bears Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After working overtime to split the first two games of their South Division Final against the Florida Everblades, the Orlando Solar Bears returned home to the Amway Center this week in hopes of continuing their quest for the Kelly Cup. Unfortunately, Orlando’s offense dried up when it was needed the most, and a promising season came to an end two rounds short of the ultimate goal.

Game 3, Tuesday, April 30: Florida 3, Orlando 2 (OT)

With the series tied 1-1, the instate rivals headed to the Amway Center on Tuesday night for Game 3.

Orlando got off to an excellent start in the first period, outshooting the Everblades 20-6 while picking up a pair of goals. Zach Frye got things going at the 2:00 of the opening frame, scoring his first of the postseason for a 1-0 lead.

Hunter Fejes continued his strong playoff run, scoring his 6th with 3:08 to go in the period to double the Solar Bears lead.

After a scoreless second period, the Everblades mounted a rally in the third against Connor Ingram. Blake Winiecki cut the Orlando lead in half at the 5:35 mark of the period with his 7th postseason goal. Florida tied the game with 10:46 remaining in regulation on Nathan Perkovich’s first of the playoffs.

For the third straight game, the teams were headed to overtime. Orlando dug themselves into a dicey situation early in the first extra session—Jonne Tammela was given a five minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct after a hit on Florida’s Michael Downing, giving the Everblades the extended man advantage. John McCarron took that advantage, scoring on Ingram less than two minutes into the power play at the 4:08 mark to give Florida a 2-1 series lead.

Ingram finished with 30 saves on 33 shots in the loss. Tammela and two other Orlando skaters each had an assist.

3 Stars:

3. Callum Booth (FLA) 31 saves

2. Zach Frye (ORL) 1 goal

1. Patrick McCarron (ORL) 1 assist

(um, we’ll assume the ECHL site picked the wrong McCarron brother, then?)

Game 4, Thursday, May 2: Florida 4, Orlando 0

Forty-eight hours later, Orlando looked to even the series up in Game 4.

This game was all Everblades from the start. Winiecki put Florida on the board 16:03 into the game on a power play goal, his 8th of the playoffs. Justin Auger doubled the Everblades lead at the 7:44 mark of the second with his third of the postseason.

Florida put the game away in the third with a pair of goals: Logan Roe’s second at the 2:14 mark made it 3-0, then Ben Masella finished off the Solar Bears with 10:52 remaining, putting Orlando on the brink of elimination.

Everblades goaltender Callum Booth stopped all 33 Solar Bears shots. Ingram stopped just 19 of 23. What Orlando lacked in offense, they certainly made up for in penalties—a busy third period contributed to 46 total penalty minutes, lead by captain Mike Monfredo’s 14.

3 Stars:

3. Justin Auger (FLA) 1 goal

2. Blake Winiecki (FLA) 1 goal, 1 assist

1. Callum Booth (FLA) 33 saves, SHO

Game 5, Friday, May 3: Florida 2, Orlando 1 (2OT)

It was a pretty simple game plan for Orlando as they approached Game 5 on Friday: Win, and it’s back to Estero for Game 6 on Monday. Lose, the summer begins.

Orlando grabbed a 1-0 lead at the 6:53 mark of the first period, as Fejes scored his 7th goal shorthanded. The Everblades responded with just under six minutes remaining in the period, tying the game on Downing’s third of the postseason.

Then, the goaltending duel between Ingram and Booth began. Through the remainder of regulation, the two netminders combined to stop 36 shots, 22-14 in favor of Orlando. And for the fourth time in five games, overtime would be needed to determine the winner. History was made in the process:

It was more of the same in the first overtime, as neither team could get that game winning goal. Orlando outshot the Everblades 10-9. For the first time in Solar Bears history, double overtime was needed. In the second OT, the Solar Bears outshot the Everblades 12-11. Unfortunately, that 11th Florida shot, off the stick of John McCarron with 5:12 remaining in the second extra session, officially finished off Orlando. For the second straight season, Florida eliminated Orlando in the second round to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Everblades will take on the winner of the North Division Finals, either Newfoundland or Manchester.

Ingram finished a long night with 49 saves on 51 shots in just under 95 minutes. Alexander Kuqali had the lone assist.

3 Stars:

3. Connor Ingram (ORL) 49 saves

2. Callum Booth (FLA) 48 saves

1. John McCarron (FLA) 1 goal, 1 assist

Around the Kelly Cup Playoffs:

The second round is just about wrapped up, as eight teams go down to four. Here’s how the rest of the field is shaping up:

North: Newfoundland leads Manchester, 3-2. Game 6 is Monday night in St. John’s.

Mountain: Tulsa eliminates Idaho, 4-2.

Central: Toledo upsets Cincinnati, who had the best overall record in the regular season, 4-1.

What’s Next?

A lot of questions await this Solar Bears roster as the offseason gets underway. Stay tuned for any summer happenings, including statistic reviews, signings, and the continuing soap opera that is Connor Ingram.