NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Orlando Solar Bears (26-18-4-1) relinquished an early lead but came from behind in the third period and got a hat trick performance from forward Tristin Langan to defeat the South Carolina Stingrays (19-16-7-3) by a 5-3 score on Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Stingrays’ goaltender Matt Jurusik was busy in the crease all night, turning aside 40 shots, while linemates Mark Cooper and Dan DeSalvo each tallied a goal and an assist for South Carolina in the contest.
The Solar Bears took the lead just 1:19 into the game when the team’s leading scorer Aaron Luchuk scored to make it 1-0. Orlando added to their advantage at 7:54 of the opening frame on Langan’s first strike of the contest to extend the score to 2-0.
Cooper cut the lead down to 2-1 with his seventh goal of the year at 12:56 of the first off of a pass through the crease by forward Cole Ully. A second assist on the play was credited to DeSalvo, who evened the game up at 2-2 with his 12th goal of the year under three minutes later at 15:45. Cooper had the only assist, taking an initial shot which was stopped by goaltender Clint Windsor before DeSalvo shoved home a loose rebound.
SC took a 3-2 lead with 2:04 to play in the first period when defender Zach Malatesta netted his fifth goal of the season off a setup by captain Andrew Cherniwchan. Forward Justin Florek picked up the second assist on the goal, which was scored at 17:56.
Neither team got on the board in the middle period, which was mostly controlled by Orlando, who outshot the Rays 16-6 in the frame but were held at bay by Jurusik.
But the Solar Bears broke through just 2:07 into the third when Tyler Bird deflected a puck up high and into the net to tie things back up at 3-3.
Langan’s second tally of the night put Orlando ahead for good 4-3 at 9:05, before the attacker scored an empty net goal at 19:09 to seal the victory for the visitors.
Both clubs came up empty on the man-advantage, going 0-for-3 on their respective power plays. Windsor secured the victory for the Solar Bears, stopping 26 South Carolina opportunities in the contest. Overall, Orlando had a shots-on-goal edge of 45-29.