CINCINNATI, OHIO – In the overall scheme of things, 13 seconds is not a very long time. In the sports world, 13 seconds can be an eternity. Wednesday night it was the difference between victory and defeat.
Zach Harrison and David Rutherford scored 13 seconds apart in the third period as the Orlando Solar Bears came from behind to defeat the Cincinnati Cyclones 4-2 in front of an announced crowd of 2,298 at the US Bank Arena. It was Orlando’s fourth win in a row and the team’s second consecutive victory away from home.
Cincinnati (7-2-0-0) entered the contest having lost just once in its first eight games. They were also facing a team in Orlando that had its struggles on the road so the Cyclones were pretty confident as the game began. The Solar Bears took some of that away by getting the better of the offensive chances in the early going, outshooting the home team 6-2 over the first ten minutes.
The Cyclones got a kick start from an Orlando penalty, taking any momentum the Solar Bears had built and eventually turned it into a score. The goal came at the 16:42 mark when David MacDonald, who was named captain of the Cyclones earlier in the day, fired a shot thru traffic that sailed over the shoulder of Solar Bears goalie John Curry and went in under the crossbar.
Not too long after the MacDonald score, Cincinnati turned an Orlando center ice turnover into a three-on-one rush. The Cyclones thought they had scored when Taylor Aronson converted a rebound but the tally was waived off when the referee ruled that rookie Wade Megan had interfered with Curry.
While Curry was facing a number of shots, Cincinnati’s Rob Madore was having a relatively easy night at the other end of the ice. Between the eight minute mark of the opening period and the midpoint of the second, Madore saw barely a handful of Solar Bears shots. The best two attempts were a pair of back-to-back tries by Harrison and Rutherford that Madore turned away fairly easily.
The Solar Bears (7-4-0-1) finally broke thru on the scoreboard with a little over five minutes remaining in the middle stanza. Captain Eric Baier had the puck in the Cincinnati end and got it to the stick of Mike Ullrich. Ullrich then sent a pass back to rookie Zachary Yuen who released a wrist shot that found its way past Madore and into the top corner. The goal was a big one because not only did it tie the score but it was Yuen’s first tally as a professional.
As the third period opened, Cincinnati came out firing and the strategy worked. A rapid flurry by the Cyclones resulted in shots by Anthony Luciani and Philippe Lefebvre that Curry stopped. Megan, who had followed the second shot in, was at the top of the crease to scoop up the second rebound and lift it over Curry for his ninth goal of the season.
It took the Solar Bears a little over two minutes to respond. Just seconds after Madore (22 saves) stopped Francis Verreault-Paul, Tyler Murovich worked the puck back to Colton Jobke at the point. Jobke lined up a shot and fired a bullet that Harrison redirected into the back of the net. Jobke’s assist was his first professional point.
Then off the ensuing faceoff, the puck was worked to Rutherford who lasered a one-time drive from the top of the defensive zone faceoff circle past Madore to give the visitors the lead.
Cincinnati was far from ready to give up. The Cyclones began to storm the Orlando defensive zone, peppering the Solar Bears net with shots. Curry, who was named goalie of the week for his work the previous week, stood on his head to hold the opposition at bay. His best saves of the thirteen he made in the period came during a late power play when he stoned Vinny Saponari and Megan in rapid succession.
Desperate for the game-tying goal, Cincinnati pulled Madore for an extra attacker in the final minute. Orlando foiled that plan when Murovich sank the puck into the empty net with 51 seconds to go to produce the final.
Curry was once again outstanding, making 37 saves to earn his fifth win of the season.
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