Solar Bears take Game 3 in double OT
Orlando skates to 4-3 win
ORLANDO, Fla. – Hunter Fejes scored twice – including the winner at the 10:23 mark of double overtime – to lift the Orlando Solar Bears (2-1) to a 4-3 win over the South Carolina Stingrays (1-2) in Game 3 of the South Division Semifinals on Wednesday night at North Charleston Coliseum. At 90:23 in length, the game was the longest in Solar Bears ECHL playoff history.
The Solar Bears took a 1-0 lead at 11:41 in the first period after a Stingrays defenseman turned the puck over in the defensive zone to Troy Bourke. Bourke found Mitch Hults, who swooped in and beat Parker Milner with a backhand attempt for his third goal of the playoffs. It was the first time in the series that either team had scored a goal in the opening frame.
The Stingrays appeared to have tied the score at the 18:57 mark when Andrew Cherniwchan used his skate to redirect a shot from Steve Johnson past Connor Ingram, but the puck was ruled to have been kicked in by Cherniwchan, negating the goal.
South Carolina tied the game at 1-1 at 6:41 of the second period when Jordan Samuels-Thomas skated through the left circle and flipped a pass back to Matt Nuttle in the slot, who then backhanded a shot past Ingram.
Orlando re-took the lead in the third period as Alexander Kuqali sent a pass out of the defensive zone to Fejes, who raced up the ice and put the puck between Milner’s legs, who then slid backwards over the goal line with the puck stuck in his pads at 1:27.
Brent Pedersen then made it 3-1 for the Solar Bears at 9:26 when he sped into the attacking zone, and as the forward got his shot off, Stingrays defenseman Cameron Heath reached out with his stick, changing the trajectory of Pedersen’s shot and sending it past the glove of Milner for Pedersen’s first of the playoffs.
South Carolina rallied in the second half of the frame, as Samuels-Thomas buried a power-play goal from the right circle at 11:53 to pull the hosts to within one, and Jonathan Charbonneau tied the score at 3-3 at 13:27 when he banked the puck off of Ingram from beneath the goal line at the left post.
The Stingrays outshot Orlando 13-7 in the third period, and continued to pepper Ingram as the game went to overtime, but the goalie turned aside all 13 shots he faced in the first extra session.
At the opposite end of the ice, Milner kept the game tied for the Stingrays with a point-blank pad save on Bourke at 3:21 of the second overtime.
The tide finally turned for Orlando midway through the second overtime, as Ingram made a kick save on Nuttle and denied Samuels-Thomas on the rebound. Shortly afterwards, Kuqali sent a pass up the right side to Fejes, who made his way to the opposite end of the ice, and snapped a shot on Milner from the right circle. The puck rebounded off of the goaltender’s pads into the slot, and Fejes cut towards the front of the net before knocking in the game-winner past Milner’s stick.
Ingram earned the win with a franchise playoff record 55 saves on 58 shots against; Milner took the loss with 48 stops on 52 shots against.
1) Hunter Fejes – ORL
2) Connor Ingram – ORL
3) Parker Milner – SC
• Fejes has scored the overtime-winning goal in the two longest games in Solar Bears playoff history, as the forward netted the game-winner at 17:29 of the first overtime in Orlando’s 2-1 win over South Carolina in Game 3 of the 2018 South Division Semifinals on April 21, 2018. Fejes is the first player in team history to have two career playoff overtime goals with the club. The forward also led Orlando with eight shots on goal, tying the club playoff single-game record previously achieved by Joe Perry (May 3, 2018 vs. Florida).
• Orlando is a lifetime 3-0 in overtime against South Carolina in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, and 4-2 overall in postseason games that extend beyond regulation.
• The Solar Bears put up a franchise playoff single-game high 52 shots on goal; Orlando also surrendered a postseason franchise record 58 shots against.
• Hults’ goal gives the forward a two-game goal streak (3g).
• Kuqali finished the night with three assists, tying the club playoff single-game records for assists and points.
• Bourke’s assist gives the forward a two-game assist streak (2a).
• Mike Monfredo assisted on Fejes’ second goal, giving the defenseman a two-game assist streak (2a).
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