Rays Stage Mid-Game Comeback, Secure 5-4 Win In Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. – After going down by two goals twice during the second period, the South Carolina Stingrays (28-23-10-3) came from behind and scored four goals in the second half of the game to secure a 5-4 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears (32-25-5-1) on the road at the Amway Center Saturday night.
Forward Dan DeSalvo led the way on the offensive end with three points on a goal and two assists, while Max Novak had the game-winning goal as well as an assist and Cole Ully picked up two helpers.
Goaltender Hunter Shepard got the start for the second straight night for SC and turned aside 31 shots to record his seventh win of the season.
Orlando got their offense started early and went up 1-0 on a goal by Michael Joly at 4:37 of the opening period.
DeSalvo evened the game at 1-1 with a shorthanded goal during a penalty to Tyler Nanne who was in the box for tripping. The attacker took a pass from Novak and weaved into the offensive zone before firing a wrist shot to the top right corner of the net for his 16th tally of the season. A second assist on the play went to defender Zach Malatesta.
The Solar Bears regained the lead moments later and made it 2-1 on a goal by Anthony Repaci at 7:50 off a rebound near the Rays’ net.
At 5:20 of the middle period, J.J. Piccinich beat Shepard with a shot from just inside the blue line to extend Orlando’s lead to 3-1.
SC got back within a goal at 8:33 of the second when forward Tim Harrison found Dylan Steman at the side of the cage for his 14th strike of the year to make it 3-2. Rays’ captain Andrew Cherniwchan earned the second helper on the play, his 24th of the season.
Again, Orlando responded quickly, making it 4-2 just 36 seconds later at 9:09 on a shot by defender Matthew Spencer.
But before the end of the frame, South Carolina scored twice and tied up the contest before heading to the second intermission. First, forward Justin Florek netted his seventh power play goal of the season to make it 4-3 just 30 seconds into the team’s first man-advantage opportunity of the night at 10:39. The veteran found a rebound in front and lifted it into the goal on the backhand for his 15th strike of the season from Ully and DeSalvo.
Then forward Mark Cooper tied the game at 4-4 with his ninth tally of the year from DeSalvo at 17:07 and SC took their newfound momentum into the break leading into the third period.
Novak’s winner was the only shot to find the net in the third period, coming on the power play off a shot from the right point with traffic in front of the Orlando goal at 4:26. The Oak Ridge, N.J. native’s seventh of the season was assisted by Ully and defender Tyler Nanne.
The Solar Bears outshot SC 12-6 in the third and forced the visiting team to defend for most of the final period but were unable to beat Shepard to get back in the game once they fell behind for the first time.
South Carolina won the special teams battle, going 2-for-4 on the man-advantage while holding Orlando to an 0-for-3 mark. The team teams finished even on shots-on-goal, with each club putting 35 opportunities on net during the contest. Solar Bears’ goaltender Michael Lackey stopped 30 shots in a losing effort.
The final contest of the 3-game weekend set between SC and Orlando will take place on Sunday afternoon at the Amway Center at 3 p.m.