For the second consecutive evening, Toronto and Montreal‘s affiliates did battle at Brampton’s Powerade Centre.
With games remaining now down to single digits in the ECHL regular season, every single point, won or lost is crucial.
Looking to rebound from defeat the night before, the home team carried the bulk of the play to begin this game.
Chris Auger was the first to test Ryan Massa, with an effort from the heart of the slot 96 seconds in.
Lucas Venuto would then fire wide with presented with another excellent chance just thirty seconds later.
Orlando’s first shot on net took almost four minutes to transpire – coming courtesy of a turnover from the Beast but Tony Cameranesi’s effort brought a fine save from Zach Fucale.
That brought about a mini spell of pressure for the visitors who went close through Shane Conacher on two occasions and Eric Baier from the middle of the ice.
A four minute play for Brampton would enable the hosts to get on the board first.
The Solar Bears had done an good job blocking passing and shooting lanes, killing the first of the minors but were unable to keep the Beast at bay.
A slap pass from Brandon Marino was tipped home by the leagues leading scorer, David Pacan.
Orlando’s first power play opportunity of the game was a chance to respond. It would go to waste however, with Eric Baier’s one-timer proving their only effort of note.
Toronto’s affiliate would level proceedings before the buzzer thanks to their hero from the night before.
Moments after tipping a shot from Jon Jutzi inches wide of the far post, Faille would turn and fire home in the crease after a shot from Chase Witala was blocked.
It was the Solar Bears who came out the gate quickly in the middle frame – almost nosing ahead 43 seconds in. Denver Manderson was robbed from the blue paint after Cameranesi won a battle along the back boards before proceeding to set up the gilt edge opportunity.
A blocked shot led to an odd man rush for Orlando but they were unable to convert despite the 3-1 man advantage.
Jutzi then struck the post with Fucale beaten and it proved a costly miss as Brampton proceeded to head up the ice and score during a frantic scramble in front of Massa.
Marino eventually finding the twine after several near misses by the home team.
It was so nearly 3-1 for the home team when Luke Pither sneaked in behind the Orlando defense but Massa bailed out his team with a snow angel save.
As the game passed the midway mark, the road team should have levelled the score.
Excellent work from Mason Marchment as he won two races for the puck before heading in alone on goal. Fucale stood tall to deny Marchment and then Conacher following up on the play. Brampton turned the puck over before they could clear and a mad scramble ensued – the officials waving off a possible goal with the net dislodged and a pile of bodies in the crease.
Having given up a slender second period lead the night before, Brampton ramped up the pressure to end the middle frame in an attempt to increase their advantage.
With Orlando scrambling and making some ill-advised play’s insider their own zone, Brandon MacLean hit the post and contrived to fire wide when the rebound bounced straight back to home.
David Pacan and Brandon Marino were then guilty of over-playing the puck in tight and allowed Massa to set himself in making yet another incredible save – ensuring the Solar Bears only trailed by one with twenty minutes remaining.
The pivotal moment of the game as far as Brampton were concerned, occurred just three minutes into the final stanza. Pither escaped down the right wing on an odd man rush. With the pass option taken away from him, the Beast’s centreman only option was to shoot but Massa had little trouble using his blocker to send the effort up into the netting.
Ninety seconds later the Solar Bears drew themselves level after an intense spell of offensive zone pressure. Justin Buzzeo somehow missed an open net on his backhand before Cameranesi tipped home a shot from Eric Baier.
Neither team were able to create enough sustained pressure from this point on – a combination of tension and tiredness being likely factors.
There would be opportunities in the final four minutes but the only heroes would be those between the pipes.
Orlando’s Joe Perry would be denied on a breakaway – though Fucale wasn’t tested as much as he should have been. It was then the turn of Pither to head in alone on Massa, but the Solar Bears net minder would not be beaten.
The closest either side came to winning in regulation arrived with twenty seconds remaining. A booming shot from Taylor Doherty was only half-stopped by Fucale, who had to dive backwards to prevent the puck rolling over the goal line.
With both team’s guaranteed a point, overtime provided a host whole of chances but again it was goaltending to the fore.
Fucale denied a wraparound attempt from Buzzeo and Faille trying to go top shelf, short-side.
Massa made even better saves to rob Marino on a breakaway and then David Vallorani in the dying seconds.
The shootout is unsatisfactory at the best of times and more so when important points are on the line with playoff berths at stake.
It was the visitors who came out on top in the skills show as Massa would prove unbeatable and Buzzeo made up for earlier misses by scoring the lone goal to secure the extra point for Orlando.
Post Game Notes:
For the second consecutive game, Orlando found a way to win after trailing through forty minutes.
David Pacan’s 36th goal of the season see’s him tied for the scoring lead.
Brampton cling onto top spot in the North Division with results elsewhere going their way.
Orlando move into third place in the South Division, two points behind Greenville. The standings are so tight that they are only the same amount of points clear of South Carolina in fifth, who have a game in hand.
Orlando improves to 3-2-0-0 on their current road trip.
Drake Berehowsky joked that “we tossed a coin to decide shooters” when asked about choosing who would participate in the shootout. He did admit that it was an aspect that the team practises, especially at this time of the season and it certainly worked out for his team tonight.
Eric Faille found the net again tonight, but wasn’t able to dominate as he had done Thursday evening. His 24th goal of the season leaves him three shy of his matching his ECHL career seasonal high.
Tony Cameranesi was a constant thorn in Brampton’s side all net as his speed was a threat to tired legs.
A 14th goal of the season – his first in seven games since being reassigned from Toronto.
Chase Witala has been in and out of the team of late but was back in the line-up tonight. Drake Berehowsky spoke highly of his development this season and he made a positive impression (assisted on first goal) despite being the tenth forward tonight.
Jon Jutzi had a strong game on the blue line and should have contributed offensively with a better touch in front of goal.
Ryan Massa with yet another stellar performance in making 34 saves.