TOLEDO, OH – When a team is on a hot streak, it seems that nothing can stop it but itself. Right now, the Orlando Solar Bears are beyond hot – they have reached red going on white hot.
Led by the two goal effort of Tyler Murovich and twin three point nights by Cody Wild and Jake Cepis, the Solar Bears whipped the Toledo Walleye 7-3 Friday night at the Huntington Center in Toledo. The win extended Orlando’s winning streak to a season high seven games while at the same time ending the team’s three game road skid.
As has been the theme of late, the victory was a top to bottom team effort. Twelve Solar Bears picked up at least one point in the game and no skater was less than an even zero rating. It was a perfect start to a four games in five days stretch for a squad who cannot afford many losses in the race for an Eastern conference playoff spot.
The goal fiesta started for Orlando (29-16-1-2) with a trio of tallies in the back half for the first period. Murovich kicked it off with what head coach Vince Williams likes – a “dirty” goal. As Wild lined up a shot from the point, Murovich headed for the front of the net looking for a rebound. Toledo goalie Jared Coreau made the initial save and one on Murovich but the Solar Bear forward would not be denied as he scooped up the rebound of his own shot and popped it home.
Just shy of five minutes later, the lead doubled when Scott Tanski netted his 13th goal of the season with a one-time shot off a pass from Mike Catenacci. Before the opening frame ended, defenseman Blake Kessel put a bomb from the point off the inside of the post and in during a Solar Bears power play to give the visitors a 3-0 lead at the break.
Toledo (16-30-2-1) was determined to not allow the 5,395 at the Huntington Center to go home unhappy and mounted a comeback early in the second. Just 50 seconds in, Travis Novak put the home team on the board with a wrist shot from the top of the slot that beat Orlando netminder Cody Reichard. Then at the 3:32 mark, Alden Hirschfeld banged home a rebound to cut the Solar Bears lead to 3-2.
Orlando had no plans of giving up the lead on this night however, quickly answering with two goals in just over four minutes to regain a three goal margin. Wild made the key play on the first one as he found Cepis wide open in front for a backhander into the back of the net. A few minutes later, Murovich and Tanski broke out on a two-on-one break that Murovich finished off for his 13th of the year and second of the game.
Tempers began to flare midway through the frame when Matson tangled with Toledo’s Richard Nedomiel after Ildar Telyakov put a huge hit on Cepis. Things quieted down for a bit but the hostilities returned later.
Mickey Lang picked up his league-leading 30th goal of the season three minutes into the final period. After taking a pass from Cepis, Lang snapped a shot from the right side into the left corner down low. Four minutes later, Wild made a heads-up play, turning the carom of a Bryce Aneloski shot off the end boards into a score to push the lead to five.
Aaron Clarke scored a power play goal just over a minute after Wild’s tally to give the 5,395 fans in attendance some hope of a comeback but it was not to be. Reichard stayed strong between the pipes on the way to a 32-save performance.
The final seven minutes were spent sending messages as Toledo’s Aaron Bogosian fought Orlando’s J.T. Barnett and later Novak dropped the gloves with Solar Bear defenseman Colton Jobke. How well those messages were heard will be on display when the two teams meet again Saturday night at 7:15 pm.
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