Estero, FL - The Solar Bears wrapped up their preseason schedule with a 4-3 victory over the Florida Everblades at the Germain Arena on Saturday night. F Michael Neal tallied twice for Orlando, including the game winner early in the third, as they won their second straight game over the Everblades in as many nights.
The Solar Bears started the scoring 2:08 into the contest. After a big hit from F Shane Bakker knocked the puck loose, F Josh Caron fed a pass to F Nick Michael Neal McParland who picked the top left corner of the net, putting Orlando ahead 1-0. A late-period power play helped the Solar Bears increase their lead to 2-0 when F Mathew Sisca slipped the puck in front of the net and F Michael Neal one-timed a shot past Florida G Jesse Deckert with 4:40 remaining. The Solar Bears took the 2-0 lead into the second period.
Orlando's lead was cut in half 6:06 into the second stanza. After a shot from the slot rang off the goalpost, F John Henrion received a pass at the right point and fired a wrister into the bottom left corner of the cage for the power play marked. The Everblades evened up the score at 2-2 at 12:04 of the frame when D Dan Milan tipped a shot from F Trevor Bruess just inside the right post. The tie game lasted just 20 seconds before McParland connected with F Kyle Beattie who was all alone in front of the net, and Beattie slipped a shot past Deckert to boost the Solar Bears to a 3-2 lead going into the third.
Neal struck for his second goal of the game early in the third period to restore the two goal lead for Orlando. Beattie stole the puck in the right corner and centered it to Neal who redirected a backhander shot into the top corner of the net. The Everblades cut the lead in half once again when F Kyle Bonis raced in on a breakaway and snapped a shot past Solar Bears G Christopher Gibson for the 4-3 score. It proved to be the final goal of the contest, as Gibson finished his Solar Bears debut with a 40 save performance to earn the win.
Three Stars: 1. M. Neal (ORL); 2. C. Gibson (ORL); 3. K. Bonis (FLA)
Power Plays: ORL: 1/3; FLA: 1/5
Shots: ORL: 22 ; FLA: 43
Orlando plays their Home Opener next Saturday, October 19, at 7:00 p.m. against the Florida Everblades... G Christopher Gibson made his Solar Bears debut tonight. He stopped 40 shots in the victory... Forward C.J. Severyn, F Mike Ullrich, F David Rutherford, and F Jacob Lagace all played last night but did not take the ice today... F Kory Nagy, F Ian Slater, F Zach Harrison, and F Tyler Murovich all appeared tonight but did not play in yesterday's game... The Solar Bears were whistled for 56 PIM tonight. The most they had in a single game last season was 50 PIM... The Solar Bears went 4-for-11 on power play chances over the two preseason games.