Solar Bears lose in Overtime to Stingrays, 3-2

ORLANDO, Fla. — After playing to a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation, the South Carolina Stingrays needed just 25 seconds to score in overtime to defeat the Orlando Solar Bears 3-2 in front of an announced crowd of 6,424 at Amway Center on Friday night.

The Stingrays outshot the Solar Bears 19-2 over the final period and overtime to seal their 44th win of the season.

“They forechecked really hard,” Solar Bears head coach Vince Williams said on their play in the third period.

“Your position game comes from funneling pucks, getting on pucks and managing it. We just struggled with taking those opportunities and then it becomes a carousel where we don’t and then we come back and then we have to change and that’s something that I think that is a little self-inflicted.”

The Solar Bears jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after defenseman Eric Baier’s ninth goal of the season at the 8:16 mark of the first period. The Stingrays quickly answered with a goal just over three minutes later when Patrick Gaul’s shot made it past goalie Maxime Clermont to tie up the game at one goal each.

The two teams traded goals in the second period to make it even at two goals each heading into the third period. Stingrays defenseman Michal Cajkovsky scored the game-winning goal in the overtime period to give the Solar Bears their 24th loss of the season.

Clermont finished the game with 33 saves on 36 shot attempts while Stingrays goalie Keegan Asmundson saved 21 shots on 23 shot attempts.

“I thought we played a solid game,” Clermont said. “Especially in the second [period] we had a lot of chances. They had a good third. We found a way to go to overtime and then in overtime it’s a bad goal. It just can’t go in, especially at this time of year. He just kind of walked into it and took a slap shot from the outside that sneaked in between my glove and my pad. It just can’t go.”

Orlando held a five-point lead over the Greenville Road Warriors heading into Friday night’s matchup for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s East Division but a Greenville win on Friday night cut that lead down to four points.

Despite losing the past two games against the Stingrays, the Solar Bears came away with one point in each game losing in overtime.

“I think in both games against a very good hockey team there’s no question that we obviously want all four points,” Williams said on coming away with two points in two nights against the Stingrays.

“It’s a great task for us against a team that has certainly set a bar in this league. That’s something that’s a challenge that we’re met with and have a pretty good record against them and so we know we can play with them. We just have to be a little bit better in certain areas.”

The Solar Bears will host the Reading Royals on Saturday at 7 p.m.