Solars Bears beat Kalamazoo, first of three game series

ORLANDO — Olivier Fortier scored twice for the Solar Bears as Orlando beat the Kalamazoo Wings by a final score of 4-2 on Saturday night in front of 6,635 fans at the Amway Center.

Fortier was able to get the Solar Bears on the scoreboard first with his power play goal 12:06 into the first period, giving Orlando a 1-0 lead.

Kalamazoo would respond with a goal of its own, when Sam Ftorek scored his third goal of the season with two minutes left to play in the first period, making the score 1-1 after one period.

“We came out with some energy, good energy,” said Solar Bears coach Drake Berehowsky. “I thought the first period was our best period by far.”

Orlando scored three goals in the second stanza while outshooting Kalamazoo 15-9 during the period. Mathew Sisca gave the Solar Bears a 2-1 lead when he scored his fifth goal of the season 8:08 into the period. Rob Mignardi would extend to 3-1 with his power play goal just three minutes after Sisca gave Orlando the lead. Fortier would later add his second goal of the game with 3:52 remaining in the period to give the Solar Bears a 4-1 lead over the Wings.

“Fortier, he’s been awesome,” said Berehowsky. “He’s been one of our most consistent forwards the whole year, and he’s played great.”

Kalamazoo would cut Orlando’s lead to 4-2 when John Armstrong scored his second goal of the season for the Wings 2:36 into the third period. That would end up being the only goal of the period, after the Solar Bears had an insurance goal waved off by the referees due to incidental contact with the net.

Kalamazoo was outshot by the Solar Bears 42-27 for the game, with their goalie Joel Martin making 38 saves in the loss.

Chris Lawrence had three assists for Orlando during the game. Lawrence was making his Solar Bears debut after being traded to the team from San Francisco on Nov. 15. B.J. Crombeen was also making his first appearance after signing with the team on Nov. 16. Crombeen had most recently played for the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League.

“It’s great anytime you can announce you have an NHL guy, but you know we’re not a one man team,” said Berehowsky on Crombeen joining the team. “Everybody on our team pitched in.”

With the 4-2 win over the Wings, Orlando now improves to 7-5-2-1 for the season. The 17 points accumulated by the Solar Bears is good enough for third place in the ECHL South Division, which is arguably the best division in the ECHL having the Gwinnett Gladiators and Greenville Road Warriors sitting at the top of the standings with 23 points each.

The Solar Bears host the Wings again on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. for game number two of a three game series against Kalamazoo.