Bittersweet homecoming game

Nick Petersen had two goals for the Solar Bears, but it wasn’t enough, as Orlando fell to the Fort Wayne Komets 5-4 in a shootout on Friday, December 7, at the Amway Center in front of 6,860 fans.

Fort Wayne managed to shut out the Solar Bears during the first period, holding Orlando to eight shots in that time. Thomas Beauregard got the Komets on the scoreboard first, when he put a slapshot past Solar Bears goalie, Darcy Kuemper to give Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead.

Brandon Marion added another goal for the Komets early in the second period to extend Fort Wayne’s lead to 2-0 with 14 minutes left to play in the second.

Nick Petersen scored back-to-back goals within five minutes of each other to tie the game at 2-2.. Petersen now has 11 goals on the season for Orlando, which brings his point total for the season to 23, good enough for fifteenth on the list of ECHL scoring leaders.

Ryan Ginand and Ryan Cruthers would help give the Solar Bears a two goal lead midway through the third period. Ginand was able to give Orlando a 3-2 lead, when he scored his fourth goal of the season with 15:51 minutes left to play in the game. Cruthers extended the lead to 4-2 when he scored with ten minutes left in the third period.

Thomas Beauregard tied the game at 4-4 when he scored his second goal of the night, which came during the final eight seconds of regulation time. Fort Wayne was playing with an empty net when Beauregard scored, meaning the Komets had an extra skater on the ice. Ryan Hegarty also scored for Fort Wayne during the third period, marking his first goal of the season.

“Sometimes the pucks just don’t bounce your way,” said Solar Bears head coach Drake Berehowsky of the late goal. “They tried to feed their guy in the slot, it bounced off him, and Beauregard came right in and put her home.”

During the overtime period Beauregard had the chance to end the game with his third scorel of the night, but the goal was waved off by the referee due to high sticking. Both teams managed to get off four shots apiece during overtime, but neither could come away with a goal.

Beauregard would go on to score the only goal of the shootout, giving Fort Wayne the 5-4 shootout win. Ryan Cruthers, Nick Petersen, Kyle Medvec, Ryan Ginand, and Olivier Fortier all failed to score on their shootout attempts.

“It hurts,” said Solar Bears winger Nick Petersen after the game. “But hockey’s a game and you’ve got to battle all the way to the end, and they did that.”

With the shootout loss Orlando is now 9-10-2-2 for the season and are now in last place in the ECHL’s South Division. The Solar Bears still have two games against the Komets this weekend, the first being on Saturday at 7:00 P.M. and then Orlando wraps up the three-game series with a 3:00 P.M. matchup on Sunday.

“It’s an unfortunate bounce,” said Berehowsky after the game. “But we’ll regroup and we’ll be ready for tomorrow night.”

Before the game the Solar Bears traded alternate captain Kevin R. Baker to Evansville for forwards Dale Mahovsky and Dan Gendur.

“It’s a business,” said Petersen after the game about the trade. “You never want to see a teammate leave. He’s a good teammate, I wish him the best.”

Former National Hockey League player Ryan Reaves was also added to the roster prior to Friday’s game, after the Solar Bears agreed to terms with him. Reaves had most recently played for the St. Louis Blues during the 2011-2012 NHL season.