Solar Bears fall in Game 5 to Everblades


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Johnny McInnis scored his third goal of the postseason in the 5-4 loss on Saturday night.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The winning streak on home ice for the Orlando Solar Bears finally came to an end on Saturday night.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored two goals to lead the Florida Everblades to a 5-4 win over the Solar Bears in Game 5 of the ECHL East Division Semifinals. The win propels the Everblades to a 3-2 series lead over the Solar Bears in the best-of-seven series.

The Solar Bears entered Saturday night’s game by winning their first two home games of the series before dropping Game 5 at the Amway Center in front of 7,007.

“Obviously we made it close, but some guys were okay and we can’t be okay at this time of the year,” Solar Bears head coach Vince Williams said. “Without fooling ourselves and really taking a look in the mirror here, we have to better here as a group. I didn’t think we were tonight.”

Orlando started off the game by taking an early 1-0 lead on forward Brett Findlay’s third goal of the series. Florida countered by scoring the game’s next two goals and put the Solar Bears in a 2-1 deficit for the second-straight game of the series.

Ben Johnson and Brady Vail each scored a goal in the second period to put the Solar Bears up 3-2 heading into the final period.

But Florida outshot Orlando 14-2 in the final period as they netted three goals to put the game out of reach.

“We started chasing a little bit,” Williams said on the play in the final period. “We weren’t managing the puck well enough all game. That was spiraling in the second period. We had a little bit of bite and started chipping pucks behind them. They managed the puck; they’re a possession team. They do a good job of that.”

Play stopped for a few minutes in the final seconds as Everblades goalie Allen York suffered a neck injury. It appeared that an Everblades player was knocked into York, causing him to fall to the ice and hit his neck on the goal post.

York was carted off the ice on a stretcher and his status for Monday’s Game 6 has yet to be determined.

After York left the game with 19.5 seconds left, Orlando scored a goal on backup goalie Daniel Altshuller with eight seconds remaining. Their comeback attempt fell short as time expired.

The Solar Bears will now head south to Estero for a must-win Game 6 and a Game 7 on Wednesday, if necessary.

“I think when we play the right way, we’re successful,” Williams said. “We have to identify the type of team we are and play to that. We’ve been a good road team all year, there’s a lot of fight in that locker room. We fought hard to get here [and] we fought hard to get to the playoffs. For us it’s a matter of taking a breath and reeling it in and going down there and playing two Game 7’s. Monday night is a Game 7.”

Game 6 at Germain Arena on Monday night starts at 7:30 p.m.