CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Orlando Solar Bears began the second half of theirinaugural ECHL season Wednesday night, hoping to make game one of the push for the playoffs a positive one. Unfortunately for them, they had to face a hot team whose coach who knows a thing or two about the City Beautiful.
Forward Mathieu Aubin scored twice and goalie Zoltan Hetenyi was perfect between the pipes as the Cincinnati Cyclones blanked the visiting Solar Bears 4-0 in front of 3,086 at the U.S. Bank Arena. The victory was especially sweet for Cyclones head coach Jarrod Skalde, who wore the jersey of the original IHL Solar Bears during the 2000-01 Turner Cup championship season.
With teams across the ECHL facing roster changes due to the end of the NHL lockout, Orlando head coach Drake Berehowsky had spent the better part of the past two days again putting patches on his lineup. Darick Ste-Marie, Spencer Bennett and Jesse Dudas were newcomers to the roster while steady defenseman Michael Wilson joined the list of call-ups, having been loaned to the Worcester Sharks of the AHL. The new faces brought the number of different players putting on an Orlando jersey this season at 45.
One of Berehowsky’s most consistent (when he wasn’t being called to Houston) has been goaltender John Curry and as it has been in his last two starts, it was Curry who single-handedly kept the Solar Bears from being run out of the game early. He made what could easily be the save of the season so far, robbing Aubin on a point-blank rebound attempt six minutes into the game.
Late in the opening period, Aubin got his first taste of revenge by putting himself in the right place at the right time. Teammate Taylor Ellington teed up a shot from the point and as he did, Aubin moved to the front of the net where he grabbed the rebound after Curry made the save and put it in the back of the net. It was the lone tally of the stanza, a stanza that saw the Cyclones outshoot Orlando 13-6 and holding a slim one goal lead.
The Solar Bears (15-18-2-2) opened the second period playing much better on offense, getting more scoring chances against Hetenyi, who had entered the contest with a 3-4 record. While the Cincinnati netminder was turning away shot after shot, Curry was keeping Orlando in the game, coming up with another big save on John McFarland early.
Just past the seven minute mark of the period, Aubin struck again, using his keen sense of going to the net. This time, it was McFarland who took the initial shot that Curry stopped but Aubin was on the doorstep to knock in the second chance opportunity and doubling the Cyclones lead. The margin grew to three late in the period when during a power play, David Pacan made a curl move out of the left corner of the Solar Bears defensive zone and picked the upper right hand corner. Even though Orlando had a 14-12 advantage in shots in the frame, it found itself on the wrong end of a 3-0 score.
With Hetenyi looking for his second shutout of the year, Cincinnati (21-12-2-0) tightened up on the defensive end, choosing to wait for offensive opportunities rather than forcing the issue and possibly giving up odd-man breaks. Orlando again controlled the shot clock for much of the period but couldn’t dent the wall thrown up by the Budapest, Hungary-born Hetenyi. Tommy Lange closed out the scoring with just over a minute left in regulation when a shot by Mike Embach deflected off of him and past Curry for the Cyclones second man-advantage tally of the night.
Orlando will continue its road trip on Friday night with the first of back-to-back games in Greenville, SC against the Road Warriors. Cincinnati’s next game is at home against Fort Wayne, also on Friday.
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