Solar Bears win home-opener in shootouts

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Courtesy of Orlando Solar Bears

Solar Bears ended their return to Orlando by taking the game to penalty shootouts.

ORLANDO — The Orlando Solar Bears won their home opener on Saturday night with a 4-3 shootout win over the Florida Everblades in front of a sold out crowd of 9,555 at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando.

Defenseman Sean Lorenz clinched the win with his goal in the 12th round of the shootout. The win came during the Solar Bears first home game since the 2001 Turner Cup Championship.

“Anytime you have an audience that’s entrenched in the game like that,” said head coach Drake Berehowsky following the game. “The players feed off of that.”

The Solar Bears led for much of the second period, after defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin cinched a 3-2 lead with 17:48 remaining in the second period. The Solar Bears were able to hold on to the 3-2 lead, until Everblades forward Matt Beca landed the game tying goal just 1:30 into the third period.

Orlando failed to record a shot during the first six minutes of the third period, but the Solar Bears finished regulation time strong, recording seven of their 11 third-period shots during the final six minutes of regulation prior to overtime.

The Solar Bears entered the overtime period with a record of 0-0-1-0 on the season in overtime, with their lone overtime loss coming at the hands of the Florida Everblades in the season opener on Oct.12 in Estero, Fla.

The overtime period was defensive, with both teams taking a combined five shots between them during the five minute period. The scoreless overtime lead to a shootout, the first for the Solar Bears of the season.

The shootout saw 18 skaters attempt to score, before Kyle Medvec put Orlando’s tenth shootout attempt in the back of the net. The shootout would then be extended when Florida’s Alex Hutchings beat Orlando goalie John Curry, to tie the shootout at 1-1.

Sean Lorenz put the Solar Bears back ahead when he scored on Orlando’s 12th shootout attempt of the night. Following the game Lorenz said, “It was fun to get a win, this was a huge night for the Orlando Solar Bears.”

Lorenz later credited the win to the entire team. He said, “It wasn’t just me, I knew I was going to celebrate with all the guys in the locker room and it was a team win.”

The Solar Bears secured the win and two points when goalie John Curry was able to save the Everblades’ 12th shootout attempt. Curry was saved by the post on two separate occasions early in the shootout, but was able to come away the winning goalie nonetheless.

Following the game Curry said, “You don’t want the first game to be a bad experience. Aside from myself, I think the team wanted to go out there and put on a good performance.”

Solar Bears center Mathew Sisca also entered the Orlando Solar Bears ECHL history books, when he scored the Solar Bears’ first home goal as a member of the ECHL.

“It was incredible, I still can’t talk about it really. I just heard 9,000 people screaming,” said Sisca. He later admitted that he didn’t know what to do after he scored the goal, which marked his second of the year.

Orlando’s Nick Petersen assisted on two of the Solar Bears three goals. The two points earned by Petersen on Saturday bring his total of the season to eight points, making him the Solar Bears’ scoring leader through four games.

With Saturday’s win, the Solar Bears improve to 2-1-1-0 on the season. The team plays again on Thursday, Oct. 25, when they host the South Carolina Stingrays in the Amway Center.