Piccinich Helps Guide Solar Bears to 5-3 Win
ORLANDO, Fla. - Rookie forward J.J. Piccinich led the way with a three-point performance as the Orlando Solar Bears (18-17-5-1) picked up a 5-3 win over the Florida Everblades (29-7-1-2) on Sunday afternoon at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center.
Piccinich scored twice - including the eventual game-winning tally - and added an assist as Orlando earned its fifth win in its last seven games (5-1-1-0). Orlando has also posted a 4-0-1-1 record in its last six home contests. The Solar Bears have improved to 2-4-2-0 against the Everblades in the Wawa Sunshine Cup Series.
With the win, the Solar Bears maintain their hold on fourth place in the South Division. Orlando remains three points behind third-place Atlanta, with three games in hand, following the Gladiators' 5-4 overtime win today over Greenville.
SCORING SUMMARY: Orlando: Chris LeBlanc (Max Novak, Alex Gudbranson), Hunter Fejes (Chris Crane, Gudbranson,), Piccinich [PP] (Joe Perry, Nolan Valleau), Piccinich (Novak), Perry [EN] (Piccinich, Novak). Goaltender: Mackenzie Skapski (36/39).
Florida: Brett Bulmer (Nelson Armstrong, John McCarron), McCarron [PP] (Matt Mackenzie, Stephen MacAulay), McCarron (MacAulay, Joe Cox). Goaltender: Callum Booth (15/19).
ON THE SCORESHEET: Chris LeBlanc opened the scoring just 1:29 into the contest with his ninth of the season, grabbing a loose puck in the slot and firing it past Callum Booth. Hunter Fejes gave Orlando a 2-1 lead at 1:15 of the second period after a rebound deflected out to the left circle, allowing the forward to bury his 20th goal of the season. J.J. Piccinich scored twice in the second period for his seventh and eighth goals of the season. The rookie netted a power-play goal at 7:57 when he one-timed a backhand pass from Joe Perry past Booth. Piccinich then received a breakaway feed from Max Novak before snapping a shot past Booth's glove to give Orlando a 4-1 lead at 15:46. The Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick finished the afternoon by contributing an assist on Perry's empty-net goal. Piccinich now has a two-game point streak (2g-3a). Joe Perry assisted on Piccinich's power-play goal and buried an empty-net tally to cap the scoring at 19:57 of the third. Perry has a two-game point streak (1g-3a). Max Novak tallied three assists for the day, dishing out helpers on LeBlanc's goal, Piccinich's game-winner, and Perry's empty-net marker. Alex Gudbranson posted two assists, helping set up the goals by LeBlanc and Fejes. Chris Crane picked up an assist on Fejes' goal, giving him a two-game point streak (2g-1a). Nolan Valleau reached the 30-point mark on the season with his assist on Piccinich's power-play goal. Mackenzie Skapski earned his fifth win of the season with 36 saves on 39 shots against.
NOTABLES: The victory pushed the Solar Bears over the .500 mark for the first time since Oct. 27. The Solar Bears went 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. Fejes led Orlando with five shots on goal. The Solar Bears are back in action on Friday, Jan. 26 when they face the South Carolina Stingrays at the North Charleston Coliseum at 7:05 p.m. - Friday's game will air on ESPN 580 Orlando. The Solar Bears return home to play the Florida Everblades on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center at 7 p.m. Single-game tickets for the 2017-18 season are now on sale at the Amway Center box office and ticketmaster.com.
THREE STARS: 1) J.J. Piccinich - ORL 2) Max Novak - ORL 3) Mackenzie Skapski - ORL
About the Orlando Solar Bears: The Orlando Solar Bears are in their sixth season of operation in the ECHL, the premier "AA" hockey league in North America, and are the proud affiliate of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and the AHL's Toronto Marlies. The Solar Bears are owned and operated by the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family, and play at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center, the 2012 Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year.
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