NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Orlando Solar Bears (20-16-3-0) scored the first five goals of the game and spoiled the annual Pack The House/Military Appreciation Night for the South Carolina Stingrays (21-17-2-0) with a final score of 7-4 in front of a crowd of 9,676 fans at the North Charleston Coliseum on Saturday night.
Forward Grant Besse had a goal and an assist in the game for South Carolina, while defender Kevin McKernan picked up two assists in a losing effort. Forwards Christian Horn, Matt Pohlkamp and Tad Kozun also scored goals in the game for the Stingrays.
Orlando got off to a strong start and took a 3-0 lead with three goals in the first five minutes of the contest. Dylan Fitze got the scoring started at 1:31, before Colby McAuley added his second goal in as many games at 2:41 and Jonne Tammela found the back of the net on a power play off a rebound at 4:38.
The Solar Bears added two more tallies at the start of the second period to increase their lead to 5-0. Michael Brodzinski found the back of the net at 1:49, while Oleg Sosunov scored off the rush at 3:17.
After South Carolina killed off a match penalty to Andrew Cherniwchan for an illegal check to the head at 13:39, Horn got the Stingrays on the board with his seventh goal of the season in the final minute of the period at 19:12. The play was started by McKernan, who used a long stretch pass to forward Josh Gratton to get into the offensive zone. Gratton then used a cross-ice feed to find Horn, who was alone in front of the Orlando net and moved the puck to his backhand to lift it into the top shelf to get SC on the board.
Pohlkamp added a power play tally at 3:05 of the third to make it 5-2 from McKernan and Besse.
Just 1:39 later, Besse scored his 14th goal of the year from defender Chris Leone and forward Sam Fioretti at 4:44 to cut the Solar Bears’ lead to 5-3. Leone’s helper was his first point as a member of South Carolina.
But Orlando struck back at 9:14 when Chris LeBlanc scored an unassisted goal to make it 6-3.
South Carolina again cut the lead down to two goals at 6-4 when Tad Kozun scored his third goal of the weekend at 12:22. A turnover from Orlando goaltender Clint Windsor to Cam Askew helped set up Kozun, who finished the play into the gaping net.
Before the Rays could get a chance to get an extra attacker on the ice in the final minutes of the game, Alex Schoenborn scored at 17:26 to put the game out of reach for South Carolina at 7-4.
Windsor picked up the victory for Orlando, turning aside 36 shots to earn his first ECHL win. Angus Redmond started the game for the Stingrays but was sent to the bench after 21:49 in favor of Gordon Defiel after allowing four goals on 12 shots. Defiel finished the contest, playing the final 38:11 for South Carolina and making 19 saves.
South Carolina outshot the Solar Bears in the game by a 40-34 margin. The Stingrays went 2-for-4 on the power play, while Orlando finished 1-for-3.