Jacksonville, FL – Craig Martin scored at the 3:28 mark of overtime to secure a 3-2 comeback win against the Orlando Solar Bears at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday evening. With the win, the Icemen and Solar Bears have traded wins this weekend, with the final game of the tripleheader coming up on Sunday.
After a relatively slow start with both teams generating some offensive zone time, the momentum shifted when Cameron Critchlow was taken out by a huge Mark Auk hit at the 7-minute mark of the first period. Critchlow would later return in the period, but not before the Solar Bears capitalize on their first powerplay opportunity. The puck bounced towards Aaron Luchuk on the right side boards who fired a one-timer perfectly past Kyle Keyser into a wide open net.
The Icemen got off to a fast start in the 2nd period with a few solid rush chances but ultimately were not able to capitalize. That all changed when Nick Saracino picked up a loose puck in front of the bench and sniped a wicked wrister past the Solar Bears’ Michael Lackey on a clean break. The Icemen later found themselves shorthanded, but with the penalty expiring, Mike Szmatula found himself on a breakaway and notched himself an assist after Brendan Warren buried the rebound past a sprawling Lackey. However, the lead would not last for long, as Orlando fired a flurry of shots on Keyser who was not able to stop a slot shot from Tristan Langan.
The third period was filled with special teams action as both teams got multiple powerplay opportunities. The Icemen could not convert on their powerplays early in the period, and neither could the Solar Bears. The best scoring chance came from Ara Nazarian as he received a pass straight out of the penalty box but was denied on the breakaway by Lackey. The Icemen were mired in penalty trouble late in the period, including a double minor high-sticking penalty by Pascal Aquin with just over 2 minutes left in the third.
The penalty kill unit was able to hold their own and force the game into overtime, where they subsequently killed off the remainder of the high sticking penalty. With the overtime play temporarily at 4-on-4, Aquin and Craig Martin rushed towards the Solar Bears’ goal on a 2-on-1, and Aquin fed a textbook cross-crease pass to Martin for the easy tap in, giving the Icemen the 3-2 win.
The Icemen and Solar Bears meet again tomorrow for the third day in a row at 3pm before the Icemen depart for 3 straight games at South Carolina.
-Written by David Cheung