Mickey Lang’s hat-trick lifts Solar Bears one step closer to playoffs

Mickey+Lang+notched+a+hat-trick+in+Thursday%27s+game+against+Evansville.

Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Mickey Lang notched a hat-trick in Thursday's game against Evansville.

Mickey Lang had a hat-trick and assisted a goal, helping the Orlando Solar Bears defeat the Evansville IceMen 5-3 on Thursday in front of an announced crowd of 5,366 at the Amway Center.

Lang scored all three of his goals in the second period, two of which came on the power play.

“It was going our way, especially with the powerplay,” said Lang. ” And tonight we capitalized on our powerplays, which is what we needed to do.”

Tyler Matson got the Solar Bears on the scoreboard first, when he scored his 15th goal of the season 11:07 into the opening period. Orlando scored again 30 seconds later when Eric Baier put one in the back of the net to extend  the Solar Bears lead to 2-0.

Evansville cut Orlando’s lead to 2-1 with less than a second remaining in the first period, thanks to a goal from Daultan Leveille.

Lang single-handedly busted the game wide-open in the second period, when he scored three goals in just over 16 minutes to put the Solar Bears up 5-1.

“He’s solid,” said Solar Bears head coach Vince Williams about his team’s leading scorer. “Someone’s got to keep an eye on him, he’s obviously a threat every time he’s on the ice.”

Orlando outshot Evansville 17-6 during the second stanza, after being outshot 12-11 during the first period.

The IceMen cut the Solar Bears lead to 5-2 less than a minute into the third period, with a powerplay goal from Tristan King and then added another from Leville midway through the third stanza, making it a two goal game.

Evansville would go on to outshoot Orlando 19-9 during the final stanza, but it wasn’t enough for the IceMen.

With the win the Solar Bears improve their record to 38-22-2-2 for the season and gain two vital points in the standings, which tie them with the South Carolina Stingrays for third in the Eastern Conference with 82 points.

Orlando now needs two wins and an overtime loss to clinch a playoff spot, or simply put five points, with seven games left in the regular season.

The Solar Bears will now have a day off before returning to the Amway Center on Saturday for the final game against Evansville before going on a three-game road trip.

Puck-drop against the IceMen is set for 7 p.m., with the 2014 Be Great Classic taking place before the game, starting at 4 p.m.

NHL Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne will be playing in the Be Great Classic this year, along with Mike Ramsey and Dave Christian, who both were members of the 1980 United States “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey team.

Fans can attend the Be Great Classic with a ticket to Saturday night’s game, doors for the charity game open at 3:45 p.m.