Dzierkals Wraps up 4-3 Solar Bears OT Victory over Royals
ORLANDO, Fla. - Martins Dzierkals scored the game-winning tally for the second consecutive game as the Orlando Solar Bears (27-25-5-1) prevailed in a thrilling 4-3 overtime finish against the Reading Royals (31-20-5-0) on Thursday night at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center to push the team's winning streak to a season-high four games.
With the victory, the Solar Bears (58 GP, 60 points) built a three-point cushion on their hold of third place in the South Division ahead of the Atlanta Gladiators (58 GP, 57 points) and reduced their magic number to 20 points.
Orlando: Adam Phillips (Kristian Pospisil, J.J. Piccinich), Piccinich [SH], Hunter Fejes (Phillips, Rankin), Martins Dzierkals (Sam Jardine, Chris LeBlanc)
Goaltender: Cal Heeter (23/26)
Reading: Mark Bennett (Michael Huntebrinker), Matt Willows [PP] (Ryan Penny, Nolan Zajac), Matt Wilkins [PP] (Tyler Brown, Chris McCarthy)
Goaltender: Mark Dekanich (26/30)
ON THE SCORESHEET
Adam Phillips got the Solar Bears on the board to tie the score at 1-1 at of the second period with his first of the season at 1:13 of the second period. Phillips also assisted on Hunter Fejes' goal to give him his 50th career pro assist.
J.J. Piccinich gave Orlando a 2-1 lead at 4:59 of the second period with his 15th goal of the season, and his third scored shorthanded. The rookie also assisted on Phillips' goal and now has a three-game point streak (2g-2a).
Hunter Fejes made the score 3-2 with his 24th of the season at 19:29 of the second period, improving his point streak to three games (2g-1a). Fejes was also awarded a penalty shot opportunity at 7:41 of the third period, but failed to score on Mark Dekanich.
Martins Dzierkals netted the overtime winner for the Solar Bears just 27 seconds into the extra session, as he made a weaving end-to-end rush before curling behind the net and wrapping the puck inside the right post past. For Dzierkals, it was the rookie's 13th of the season and his 5th game-winning tally of the campaign. The Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick now has a two-game point streak (2g-1a).
Kristian Pospisil picked up the primary assist on Phillips' goal and has a two-game point streak (1g-1a).
Kyle Rankin picked up the secondary assist on Fejes' goal after being switched back to forward for the first time since January.
Sam Jardine assisted on Dzierkals' goal and now has a two-game point streak (1g-1a).
Chris LeBlanc provided the secondary helper on the overtime-winner, and now has a two-game assist streak (3a).
Cal Heeter picked up his 16th victory of the season with 23 saves on 26 shots against. The goaltender has won his last three consecutive starts.
The victory also gives Orlando a three-game winning streak on home ice, matching a previous season-high.
The Solar Bears are now 17-1-2-0 when leading after the second period, and 18-3-0-0 when scoring four or more goals.
Orlando is now 12-0-0-0 in games in which Dzierkals records a goal.
With his fifth game-winner, Dzierkals takes the lead this season for most game-winning goals by a Solar Bears player, and has also tied Joe Perry (2016-17) and Scott Tanski (2013-14) for the second-most game-winning goals scored by a Solar Bears player in a single season.
Fejes led Orlando with six shots on goal.
The Solar Bears complete their regular season series with the Reading Royals at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center on Sunday, March 4 at 1:30 p.m. Single-game tickets for the 2017-18 season are now on sale at the Amway Center box office and ticketmaster.com.
1) Martins Dzierkals - ORL
2) Adam Phillips - ORL
3) J.J. Piccinich - ORL
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