ECHL: Florida Everblades vs. Orlando Solar Bears Game 4 Recap | 5/9/2024

Photo via Orlando Solar Bears

FIRST PERIOD:

It was game four of the south division finals as the Solar Bears hosted the Everblades at the Kia Center, as the Bears faced elimination for the first time in the playoffs. Early in the first period, the Everblades were able to put some pressure on the Solar Bears’ defense. They stood tall as the defense core was able to block the outside, which limited the chances Florida got. Shortly after the Bears started to pressure, Marc-Andre Gaudet dumped the puck into the zone; it then bounced off the stanchion right to Riese Zmolek, who tried to clear the puck; he shot the wrong way right past Florida goaltender Cam Johnson for the first goal of the hockey game, giving Orlando their first lead of the series; Gaudet got credit for the goal 7:37 into the game.

The Bears started to add more pressure, and they broke through again as the offensive attack is taking less time in the zone, adding more high quality shots. Jaydon Dureau got a shot that deflected off of Darik Angeli into the net, adding to their lead making it 2-0 for Orlando 10:37 into the game, which is really rare for Orlando, who has gotten outscored in the first period in almost every game these playoffs.

SECOND PERIOD:

The Everblades got off to a fast start in the middle frame as the Solar Bears were caught in a major defensive breakdown early on as Zmolek found Matt Wedman right at the front of the goal crease, who tucked it home to put Florida on the board just 26 seconds into the period. The Everblades, trying to tie the game up kept pressuring the back line of Orlando. With 15:59 left in the second, there was a heavy check along the door of the penalty box, causing the glass to break; after the Kia Center ice crew fixed it, the ice in Evan Fitzpatrick’s goal crease needed to get fixed, causing the whole delay to be almost 10 minutes. Afterward, Florida kept their foot on the gas as they tried to find the equalizer. Eventually, Orlando was able to find some zone time halfway through the middle frame, which led to a couple of great chances, including when Kurt Gosselin fed the puck to Jesse Jacques, who just mishandled the puck.

Orlando would then retake their two-goal lead with 8:21 left in the period when Ben Carroll fed the puck to Jaydon Dureau, who poked the puck into the net for a 3-1 lead. The Bears got a power play when Kyle Neuber laid a heavy hit on one of the Bears’ players, on which a scuffle ensued with 7:31 left in the frame. Orlando would get several chances, including a late chance on the power-play when Brayden Low had the puck with a wide open net, however Johnson snagged it out of mid-air, to the disbelief of Orlando fans.

Shortly after the power-play ended, Dureau got a shot, along with an Angeli rebound, both of those shots were saved by Johnson. Florida got a power play when Gaudet committed a high stick penalty after a Florida player tripped onto the ice, getting caught with the stick of Gaudet. The Everblades would get several chances on the power play as Bobo Carpenter got a shot from the right hashmark that was saved by Fitzpatrick, that was the best chance until with about 91 seconds later, Todd Skirving got a shot from the left circle on a one-time shot that saved by Fitzpatrick. Orlando would finally get zone time for the first time in a while, and it was Carroll who got a shot that trickled through the crease, going wide of the net to end the second.

THIRD PERIOD:

Down 3-1 entering the final period, the Everblades needed a spark to start the period, they got several chances within the first half of the frame. Sean Josling had the puck in the blue crease, Fitzpatrick found it and covered. All the pressure paid off when Jordan Sambrook bounced the puck in the crease, and Logan Lambdin stuffed it home for Florida to give the Everblades some life with 17:41 left. Josh Ho-Sang passed to Wedman who was in the slot with 16:20 left, ultimately saved by Fitzpatrick. The Everblades had some more pressure for a whole minute in the zone five minutes into the period, the Bear’s Jesse Jacques would then steal the puck, who shot the puck, saved by Johnson, then rebounded by Dureau as the Bears tried to extend their lead back to two goals.

The Bears and the Blades would trade chances, resulting in a high stick penalty on Kevin Lombardi, giving Florida the power play. They would get a couple of chances, but Orlando kept clearing the puck with 11:20 left. The Bears then killed the penalty off, and afterward, things started to get physical as Florida was trying to lay the pressure on Orlando. Oliver Chau had a chance from the left slot after the Bears gave the puck away in their own zone with 5:40 left. Aaron Luchuk, a player yet to get going in this series and, in reality, also in the entire playoffs, had a chance on a mini breakaway that was pushed away by Johnson. Shortly after, Joe Pendenza got a point-blank shot after Carroll gave it away, luckily saved by Fitzpatrick. Orlando would then seal the game as Angeli scored on the empty net with 27 seconds left. After the faceoff, Florida started to push and shove, eventually, Florida’s Neuber punched Orlando’s Brayden Low in the head leading to everyone on the ice finding a partner, which resulted in everyone getting 10 minute misconduct penalties, with Neuber getting an additional two for the punch on Low.

TAKEAWAYS:

Orlando kept their season alive by using their defensive skill, that’s been missing this series. Fitzpatrick had the best game of this series saving 37/39 shots. Early momentum for the Bears helped propel the crowd and the team to a game four win. Game five of the series will be another must-win for the Solar Bears as they host the Everblades at 7 pm tomorrow night. It will be played on Saturday night instead of the previously scheduled Sunday night due to the NBA’s Orlando Magic no longer needing Saturday Night.

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Elijah Webb

I am Elijah. Hockey is my biggest passion, however I have love for all sports. I got into hockey from day one of my life. I currently am the writer for the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL, and one day, I hope to become a broadcaster

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