Rays Swim Past Solar Bears In Series Opener, 6-2

Rays Swim Past Solar Bears In Series Opener, 6-2
The Stingrays earned a 6-2 win in Orlando on Friday (Source: South Carolina Stingrays)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Six different scorers and 33 saves from goaltender Alex Dubeau propelled the South Carolina Stingrays (22-18-9-3) to their second straight road victory Friday night in a defeat of the Orlando Solar Bears (28-20-4-1) by a score of 6-2 at the Amway Center.

Forward Caleb Herbert led the way with a goal and two assists, while Brett Supinski picked up three assists, and both Matthew Weis (1g, 1a) and captain Andrew Cherniwchan (2a) each had multi-point nights.

Dubeau, who totaled 13 saves in the first frame alone, had to be on his game early and shut down multiple scoring chances for the Solar Bears in the opening minutes of the game.

The Rays then took an early lead immediately after killing the first minor penalty of the night to Supinski. The attacker finished serving time for a slashing infraction and came out of the sin bin to leave a pass for forward Tim Harrison. After bringing the puck down the left-wing, Harrison fluttered a perfect feed to the front of the net that glanced off Florek’s stick and past goaltender Michael Lackey to make it 1-0 at 6:48.

Exactly two minutes later, Weis grabbed a rebound off an initial shot by Supinski and swept it to the back of the cage for his fifth goal of the season. The marker, which came at 8:48, gave SC a 2-0 advantage and had a second assist from forward Max Novak.

The Stingrays extended their lead to 3-0 in the second when Herbert scored the only goal of the period on a 2-on-1 off a pass by Weis. Cherniwchan secured the second assist on the play, which was finished at 11:14 of the middle frame.

A goal by Orlando’s Michael Joly 46 seconds into the final period got the Solar Bears on the board and back within two at 3-1, but a slashing penalty to Tyler Bird seconds later put the Rays on a man-advantage.

South Carolina capitalized on that chance when defender Max Gottlieb scored a crucial goal to return his team’s edge to a 3-goal margin at 4-1. Gottlieb took a pass from Herbert and beat Lackey blocker side for his fifth goal of the season. A second assist on the power play goal went to Cherniwchan.

The Rays never looked back from there and extended their lead by scoring twice in a span of just 22 seconds. First, forward Dylan Steman re-directed a shot by defender Connor Moore to the back of the net for his 12th goal of the year at 3:27 that had a second assist for Supinski on the play.

Then it was forward Cole Ully that netted his team-leading 18th strike of the season at 3:49 on a shot from the left circle with assists by Dan DeSalvo as well as Herbert.

With the game in hand in the final minutes, Orlando’s Aaron Luchuk added a final tally for the home team during a power play advantage with just 14 seconds remaining.

Both clubs had a single goal on the man-advantage, with SC finishing 1-for-4, while Orlando ended at 1-for-3. The Solar Bears had the edge in shots-on-goal margin during the contest, 35-24. Lackey, who was pulled after allowing the sixth goal of the night for the Stingrays, finished with 16 saves, while Clint Windsor came on in relief and stopped two shots during the final 16:11.

The two teams will continue their three-game series Sunday afternoon at the Amway Center beginning at 3 p.m.