Doubling Down-ing: 'Blades Outlast Solar Bears in Overtime, 3-2
ESTERO, Fla. - Michael Downing picked a good time for his first goal of the season.
With the Florida Everblades and Orlando Solar Bears tied at two with 1:58 left in overtime, Downing ripped a shot from the slot past Orlando netminder Clint Windsor to send the 'Blades to a 3-2 win in the final regular-season meeting with their in-state rivals on Friday night at Hertz Arena.
In the third straight meeting between the two teams to require overtime or a shootout, Florida (49-16-5-1, 104 pts.) scored the final three goals of the game to overcome a two-goal deficit and split the 12-game season series with Orlando (40-25-5-1, 86 pts.).
Though the 'Blades had a strong effort on special teams, converting twice on five power plays and going 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, it was Orlando that struck first thanks to a shorthanded goal. Former Everblades forward Mathieu Foget raced to a loose puck in the high slot of the Florida offensive zone and went to his backhand to beat the blocker of Everblades goaltender Jeremy Helvig on the ensuing breakaway to give the Solar Bears the lead 4:17 into the opening frame.
The Solar Bears added to their advantage with nine minutes, 21 seconds gone in the first. Solar Bears captain Mike Monfredo lobbed a shot through traffic, and the puck passed four players on the way to the net before getting by Helvig, who never saw it through the host of bodies in front.
A penalty by former 'Blades defenseman Akim Aliu helped Florida whittle into the deficit before the end of the first period. Red-hot rookie Alex Tonge scored on the power play with 2:41 left in the first thanks to a crisp, one-time set up from Sam Warning. The pairing of Warning and Tonge has been deadly of late, combining for seven goals and two assists in the last three games.
Florida then drew even in the first five minutes of the second period with Blake Winiecki's 25th goal of the season. A two-on-one rush with Justin Auger and Alex Tonge started the game-tying sequence. Auger's initial shot kicked off the end boards and back into the slot, where Tonge slapped a second shot on goal. Windsor stopped that chance, but Winiecki found the rebound at the side of the net and buried it.
The two teams went scoreless through the next 36:16 to end regulation and headed to overtime for the sixth time this year, setting the stage for Downing's heroics.
Helvig picked up his 27th win of the year, making 22 saves on 24 shots to set the franchise record for most wins by a rookie netminder.
Florida closes out the regular season with a Saturday night matchup against the Jacksonville Icemen. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
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ECHL Stories from April 5, 2019
- Solar Bears Fall to Everblades in OT in Series Finale - Orlando Solar Bears
- Mavs Extend Winning Streak to Four in 5-1 Win at Rapid City - Kansas City Mavericks
- Fuel Eliminated from Playoff Contention After Shootout Loss to Komets - Indy Fuel
- Doubling Down-ing: 'Blades Outlast Solar Bears in Overtime, 3-2 - Florida Everblades
- Cyclones Tie ECHL Home-Win Record - Cincinnati Cyclones
- Olivieri's Late Goal Not Enough as Norfolk Falls to Greenville - Norfolk Admirals
- Kalk, Skinner Leads Thunder to Win vs. Allen - Wichita Thunder
- Oilers Win Sixth Straight at Home - Tulsa Oilers
- Three Unanswered in the Third Doom K-Wings on Friday Night - Kalamazoo Wings
- Railers Playoff Hopes Dashed in 4-2 Loss at Maine - Worcester Railers HC
- Mariners Power Play Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive - Maine Mariners
- Royals One Point Back of Fourth and Final Playoff Spot with Win at Adirondack - Reading Royals
- Swamp Rabbits Torpedo Admirals - Greenville Swamp Rabbits
- Thunder Drop Front End to Royals by 4-1 Final - Adirondack Thunder
- Monarchs Clinch Playoff Berth with Shootout Win - Manchester Monarchs
- Growlers Fall in a Shootout in Manchester - Newfoundland Growlers
- Nailers Playoff Hopes Fall Short in Game 70 - Wheeling Nailers
- Game Preview: Solar Bears at Everblades - Orlando Solar Bears
- Hudon Loaned to American Hockey League's Laval Rocket - Florida Everblades
- K-Wings Ink Defenseman Hyman - Kalamazoo Wings
- Solar Bears Sign Portland Winterhawks Defenseman Jared Freadrich - Orlando Solar Bears
- Eric Sweetman Loaned to AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins - Idaho Steelheads
- ECHL Transactions - April 5 - ECHL
- Preview: 'Blades Face Solar Bears to Start Regular Season's Final Weekend - Florida Everblades
- Thunder Add Defenseman Tommy Parran on ATO - Adirondack Thunder
- Cyclones Game Preview: vs. Brampton Beast - Cincinnati Cyclones
- Newfoundland's O'Brien Receives 2018-19 ECHL Sportsmanship Award - ECHL
- Worcester Railers Nominate Connor Doherty for ECHL Community Service Award - Worcester Railers HC
- Nailers vs. Walleye Game Day Snap Shot, April 5 - Wheeling Nailers
- James Henry Receives 2018-2019 ECHL Community Service Award - Adirondack Thunder
- Adirondack's Henry Receives 2018-19 ECHL Community Service Award - ECHL
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