ESTERO, Fla. - The Florida Everblades (24-8-0-2) defeated the Orlando Solar Bears (17-10-3-1) in a 3-2 shootout victory at Hertz Arena on Saturday night. Florida got a late third-period goal from John McCarron to tie the game and force overtime. Michael Huntebrinker and Myles Powell scored in the shootout for the Blades while goaltender Jake Hildebrand stopped both shooters for the Bears.
FIRST STAR: Michael Huntebrinker (FLA) - one goal, six shots, shootout goal
SECOND STAR: Aaron Luchuk (ORL) - two goals, +2
THIRD STAR: Jake Hildebrand (FLA) - 38 saves, two shootout saves
Starting the scoring in the first period, Orlando’s Aaron Luchuk picked up a friendly ricochet off the end boards and tucked the puck past Florida goaltender Jake Hildebrand to put the Bears up 1-0 (14:09).
The Florida power play got to work while trailing later in the first period. Alone with the puck at the far post, Joe Pendenza patiently delayed and sent a pass across the blue paint that Huntebrinker tapped into the net (17:45). Huntebrinker’s first-period tally marked his 17th of the season and his ECHL-best seventh power-play goal of the year.
Luchuk grabbed his second goal of the evening in the second period when he fired off a quick shot from the slot to give Orlando a 2-1 lead (3:22).
The Florida power play roared to life again late in the third period. Anchored in front of the Orlando net, McCarron tipped in a Powell shot to tie the game at 2-2 and force overtime (15:01). With the primary assist on the play, Powell now has posted points in his last eight contests dating back to Dec. 30.
The game moved to a shootout after a scoreless overtime frame. As the second shooter for Florida, Huntebrinker went five-hole on Orlando goaltender Michael Lackey for the first shootout score. After Hildebrand shut down the first two Solar Bears shooters, Powell ended the game with a top-shelf backhander.
The Everblades meet the Solar Bears again next week on Tuesday, Mar. 16 in Orlando. After the midweek action against the Bears, Florida travels north to face the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (15-10-7-2) for three games over the weekend.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.