Solar Bears drop Game 1 of quarterfinals


Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

The Solar Bears outshot the Cyclones 36-26, but still fell 4-2 on Thursday.

It had been 12 years, 10 months and 22 days since Central Florida hockey fans got to see their Orlando Solar Bears win a playoff game, and after Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones fans will have to wait another two days.

The Solar Bears went into Game 1 against the Cyclones as the higher seed, but on Thursday they looked like they were lacking on defense.

“You’ve got to play like it’s a 7-game series,” said Solar Bears head coach Vince Williams following the game. “That’s our mindset, we’ve got to work on tomorrow and Sunday, it starts with Sunday and then we move from there.”

Cincinnati jumped out to an early 1-0 lead 5:33 into the opening period when Wade Megan flipped the puck into the back of the net for the goal. Taylor Matson tied the game at 1-1 for the Solar Bears less than a minute and a half later when he blasted a slap shot past Cyclones goalie Rob Madore.

Wade Macleod gave the Solar Bears the lead with 5:07 remaining in the opening period, when he scored on an assist from Bryce Aneloski and Cody Wild to give Orlando a 2-1 lead. Megan would later tie the game at 2-2 before the first intermission with his second goal of the game.

Neither team held a lead for longer than two minutes during the first stanza, while Cincinnati did manage to outshoot Orlando 12-10 during the period.

The Solar Bears were playing tight defense in the second period, but the Cyclones took a 3-2 when Brett Wysopal scored with 3:49 remaining in the stanza, on what was just Cincinnati’s fourth shot of the frame.

Orlando did manage to outshoot Cincinnati 18-4 during the second stanza, but failed to score despite all their chances.

“It’s execution,” said Williams about his team’s lack of finishing. “When you get a chance to score you have to score, and those guys know that.”

Trevor Lewis scored the dagger for the Cyclones with 3:53 remaining in the third period, extending their lead to 4-2 before the final horn.

Orlando is now 3-17-2 this season when trailing after the second period, for comparison Cincinnati improved to 33-0-2 when leading after two stanzas.

With the loss the Solar Bears fall to 0-1 in the best-of-7 playoff series against the Cyclones.

“We have to improve and fix upon it,” said Williams after the game. “We can’t sit there and hang our heads and let our lips drag over the ice, we’ve got to come back and be better.”

The team will now prepare for Game 2 against Cincinnati, which is set for 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 20 at the Amway Center.