Solar Bears Take Game 3 of ECHL Eastern Division Semifinals


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Forward Johnny McInnis led the Solar Bears with two goals.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Forward Johnny McInnis scored two goals for the Solar Bears to help lead Orlando to a 5-2 win over the Florida Everblades in Game 3 of the ECHL Eastern Division Semifinals in front of 4,869 at Amway Center.

Tuesday night’s win marks the first win in the series for the Solar Bears and cuts the Everblades’ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

“I think it was a positive step forward,” Solar Bears head coach Vince Williams said on the win. “I think with going back to the last couple of games when we got hemmed in a little bit we probably found a way to lose that type of game last week. Everything that we’re doing is progression and trying to get better as a group every day.”

The Solar Bears scored first in the contest on McInnis’ first goal of the night at the 14:27 mark in the first period. McInnis then slipped his second goal past Everblades goalie Allen York at the 3:47 mark of the second period to give the Solar Bears a 2-0 lead.

Forward Ben Johnson followed with a goal just 40 seconds later to give the Solar Bears a commanding 3-0 lead.

The Everblades answered by scoring the game’s next two goals to cut the lead down to 3-2 but that’s all the offense Florida would score as the Solar Bears pulled away early in the third period on a goal by Eric Baier and an open-net goal from Brady Vail to seal the victory.

Solar Bears goalie Garret Sparks saved 48 shots on 50 attempts while York saved 14 shots on 18 attempts.

“I’d rather have 50 shots than 15 any day of the week,” Sparks said. “It gets me into the game easier. Constant action is never a bad thing. That’s the easiest way to catch a hot streak; it keeps you in action. I’m a goalie, I like to make saves. The more shots the better.”

The Solar Bears managed to pull out the win despite being outshot in the contest 50-19 at the final buzzer. Orlando held a 7-6 shot advantage after the first period, but were outshot 43-13 over the final two periods.

“I think a lot of it is we’re starting to see guys that can elevate their game these types of games and you’re starting to see some guys struggling a little bit,” Williams said on the shot discrepancy. “You have to be able to do things hard all of the time. Turnovers lead to lack of possession which ends up being your end.”

The two teams will meet again at the Amway Center on Thursday night for Game 4 of the series with the Solar Bears looking to tie the series at two games each with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.