Florida Everblades 3 @ Orlando Solar Bears 4 (SO)
F Alex Hutchings, FLA: 0-0-0, E, 2 SOG, 0 PIM
Season totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM
D Charles Landry, FLA: 0-0-0, E, 1 SOG, 0 PIM
Season totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM
F Maxime Langelier-Parent, FLA: Did not play
Season totals: 1 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM
(Syracuse Crunch contract)
D Daniel Milan, FLA: Did not play
Season totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
G Pat Nagle, FLA: 3 GA (2.77 GAA), 23 S / 26 SA (.885 SV%)
Season totals: 3 GP, 1-0-1, 0 SO, 3.03 GAA, 77 S / 85 SA (.906 SV%)
After yesterday's sizable defeat at the hands of the Solar Bears, the Everblades came to Orlando looking to spoil the inaugural home opener for their new in-state and divisional rival. To that end, Florida got on the right path, taking two first period leads, the first when Brandon MacLean found the net with what appeared to be fairly weak wrist-shot that handcuffed John Curry, Orlando's netminder, and when Matt Beca found space on a Florida power play, took a cross-ice feed at the right hash and quickly snapped the puck over a sprawling Curry. Both leads were short-lived, however, as Orlando found a way to make the most of its few chances in the first period. Pat Nagle, who got stronger as the game wore on, was first beat by a mid-range shot that he may not have seen much of but seemed to go through him. Then, with the period winding down, Orlando defenseman Michael Wilson took Solar Bear captain Ryan Cruthers' pass from the bench boards as he jumped into the neutral zone and began what should have been a routine 1-on-1 challenge but, after taking the puck to his backhand and protecting it, beat the Florida defender wide and somehow chipped the puck past Nagle, who looked to be in good position. Orlando took the longest-lasting lead when Solar Bear forward Nick Peterson drew Charles Landry to him as he stopped just inside the Florida blueline, then layed a nice, on-side touch pass to a hard-charging Danis-Pepin who deftly avoided the reaching stick-check of Bobby Raymond and capped the sequence with a heavy, well-placed wrist-shot that beat Nagle's glove just two minutes into the second period. The last scoring action before the shootout came when Beca scored his second of the game during a frantic goalmouth scramble that tied the game at three goals apiece with just a couple minutes into the final frame. The shootout went twelve rounds, with Orlando's Medvec and Hutchings the only two shooters to score on either goalie until Sean Lorenz beat Nagle five-hole and Curry squelched Florida's last hope when he subsequently came to the top of his crease to stop Aaron Bogosian's wrist-shot attempt from in-close and seal the win for the Solar Bears.
Alex Hutchings didn't register an official point (though he scored in the shootout) but had a good showing tonight, playing effectively at even-strength, the PP and even on the PK in a few instances. Results-wise, he probably deserved better, as he rifled several shots that narrowly missed or were blocked and also sprung Florida forward Corey Trivino for an even-strength breakaway that Curry was able to thwart. Hutchings also showed a lot of moxie, taking plenty of punishment in stride tonight and even managing to dish out a few decent licks of his own. Landry's night, on the other hand, was more of a mixed bag. Despite playing big, mostly uneventful minutes, Landry got sloppy with outlets and in-zone passes on several occasions, the most notable instance when he used the end boards behind his net to blindly bank a pass to his partner which was intercepted by a hustling Solar Bear forward and nearly became a goal.
Other thoughts and notes: Florida outshot Orlando 35-29 tonight, although at one point, midway through the third, the shots were 30-14 Florida before Orlando generated an impressive late-game surge. Perhaps strong emotions and some extra aggression should have been expected given this was the fourth meeting in just over a week's time between the two clubs; the game was, much to the crowd's delight, very physical for much of the game and, as a result, tempers flared early and often, especially after whistles. Both teams, consequently, combined for 59 penalty minutes. Daniel Milan and Maxime Langelier-Parent, still nursing injuries, sat again. Florida (2-1-1) plays host this Wednesday to South Carolina (2-1-0) as part of a two-game set.
Alaska Aces 1 @ Utah Grizzlies 0
F Nate Thompson, AK: 0-0-0, E, 4 SOG, 4 PIM
Season totals: 4 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 8 PIM
The previously undefeated Grizzlies held Alaska's trio of NHL forwards (Crabb, Dubinsky and Thompson) scoreless, despite their combined 13 shots on goal, in what turned out to be a goalie duel. Alaska's Mark Guggenberger earned a 23-save shutout but Utah's Andrew Engelage did all he could for the Grizzlies, stopping 38 of 39 shots against. Chris Haltigin scored the lone goal in the contest early in the third period after the puck found its way to him in the high slot as a result of a strong Aces forecheck generated a turnover. With the win tonight, Alaska halted its two-game losing streak. The Aces (2-2-0) will continue their home stand next Friday when the new San Francisco Bulls franchise (2-1-0) comes to Anchorage for a three-game weekend set.