Stingrays Earn Point, Drop Game in Overtime
ORLANDO, FL – Three unanswered goals lifted the Orlando Solar Bears (15-12-1-0) over the South Carolina Stingrays (9-14-3-0) in a 5-4 overtime victory on New Years Eve. South Carolina picked up their first point since December 5th during their first trip to the Amway Center this season.
Orlando broke the ice late in the first period on Dylan Fitze’s first goal of the season. Luke Boka’s feed allowed Fitze to move down the right wall where he fired a shot past Cédrick Andree for the 1-0 lead.
For the first time this year, Ben Holmstrom found the back of the net to even the score at one with only 43 seconds left in the first period. The patience of Holmstrom paid off, waiting for goaltender Brad Barone to make the first move before throwing the puck off a defender and in for his first goal of the season.
The Stingrays took the lead at the 5:40 mark of the second period as Bryce Martin scored his first professional goal, making the score 2-1. It was Holmstrom making the play again, feeding Martin at the bottom of the right circle where his shot found the five hole of Barone.
Lawton Courtnall doubled the lead on his seventh tuck of the season 55 seconds after Martin’s tally. The agile forward used quick cuts to open the lane for a wraparound attempt, sending the puck through the wickets of Barone for the 3-1 lead.
Orlando would cut the deficit back to one before the period expired as the former Hershey Bear, Hunter Fejes, secured his third goal of the year. On the first and only power play of the night, Fejes wristed a shot from the left circle that deflected off Andrée and past the end line for the goal.
South Carolina regained their two-goal advantage early in the third period as the Stingrays tallied a power play goal. Connor Moore fired a shot towards the net, and with the hand-eye coordination of Justin Florek, the puck was tipped over the shoulder of Barone.
The Solar Bears used three unanswered goals to claim victory, beginning with Luke McInnis’ fourth of the year. McInnis was left alone on the bottom of the right circle, clapping a one-timer past Andrée before Boka tied the game with 2:35 remaining in regulation. Boka cleaned up a loose puck in front of the net, shooting one past a sprawling netminder.
Boka played hero yet again, capping off the comeback with his ninth goal of the year in overtime. Receiving the puck outside of the left circle, the forward inched closer before snapping a wrist shot over the Stingrays goaltender for the win.
Andrée and Barone each halted 30 shots a piece in the contest on New Year’s Eve.
The Stingrays kick off the new year back in Jacksonville, Florida as they take on the Jacksonville Icemen for the fifth game in the last six outings. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
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