ORLANDO, Fla. – Mitch Hults scored two second-period goals and the Orlando Solar Bears (1-1) defeated the South Carolina Stingrays (1-1) by a 3-2 score in Game 2 of the South Division Semifinals on Friday night at Amway Center.
As was the case on Wednesday in Game 1, the first period was a goaltending duel between Connor Ingram and Parker Milner, as Ingram made breakaway saves on Grant Besse and Patrick Gaul, while Milner made a goal-line stop on Colby McAuley to keep the score 0-0.
Orlando’s forecheck forced a turnover to ignite the offense early in the second period, as Tayler Thompson corralled a bouncing puck and deked to his fore-hand and backhand before sliding the puck along the ice past Milner at the right post at 2:42.
Hults extended Orlando’s lead to two goals when Chris LeBlanc sent a pass from the left corner across the crease to Hults, who buried his first of the postseason at 6:17.
The Solar Bears received an extended power play late in the frame when Mason Mitchel was assessed a match penalty for slew-footing Akim Aliu at 14:43.
Hults got his second of the night on the ensuing power play, as Zach Frye dished the puck to Hults at the right circle. The forward received the pass on his backhand before shifting to his forehand and snapping a shot past a lunging Milner at 16:26 to make it 3-0.
The Stingrays mounted a comeback attempt in the third period, as Besse scored at 7:33 to get South Carolina on the board.
Tad Kozun then pulled the visitors to within one goal of Orlando at 12:45 with Kevin Lohan and Alex Schoenborn in the box for the Solar Bears.
The Stingrays attempted to pull Milner in the final minute of regulation for an extra attacker, but the Solar Bears defense tightened up to secure the victory.
Ingram earned the win with 25 saves on 27 shots against; Milner took the loss with 33 stops on 36 shots against.
1) Mitch Hults – ORL
2) Tayler Thompson – ORL
3) Connor Ingram – ORL
• Hults’ goals broke a 20-game drought for the forward dating back to Jan. 12, when the forward scored in a 5-4 shootout win at Norfolk.
• Dylan Fitze had a multi-point evening, as the forward picked up assists on Thompson’s goal and Hults’ second tally.
• Both teams went 1-for-6 on the power play.
• The Solar Bears outshot the Stingrays 17-4 in the second period, and 36-27 overall. The four shots against in the second period tied a franchise playoff record for the fewest shots against in a period, which previously occurred on April 17, 2015 at Florida (Game 1, East Division Semifinals, third period) and April 17, 2014 vs. Cincinnati (Game 2, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, second period).