What started with a stalled third period rally on Friday ended with the Maine Mariners taking two of three at home from the Orlando Solar Bears. This comes after the two teams last met on November 20th, where the Solar Bears exited the ice with a narrow 5-4 victory.
From puck drop on Friday night, tensions between Maine and Orlando grew with each hit and scrum. And though the game was physical from the outset, the Solar Bears cruised to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period. Mariners netminder Kyle Keyser, who had a stint with the Boston Bruins as an emergency backup just weeks ago, struggled at the end of frame behind his defence, allowing three goals on just nine shots in what was otherwise a strong opening twenty minutes. Two of the Orlando goals came from Tristin Langan, who ended up completing a hat trick by the game’s conclusion.
Maine’s rally fell short, despite goals in the second and third period by Ian McKinnon and Pascal Laberge respectively. In the end, the Solar Bears were able to add three additional goals, including one each from Jake Transit and Tyler Bird, on top of Langan’s third of the contest. Bird compiled five points in total en route to the victory.
The Mariners rebounded well on Saturday night, garnering a 3-1 win supported by Jeremy Brodeur, who made 35 saves. Bird scored the lone goal for Orlando, while Mathew Santos’ second period goal and empty netter proved to be the difference the home team needed. Patrick Shea, who has performed well since signing earlier this season, also added an assist in what would be a preview of a strong performance on Sunday.
In the rubber match, Shea tallied a pair of goals, and Callum Booth held a shutout until the final four minutes of the final frame to lead the Mariners to a series victory with a 4-1 win. Two previous hard-fought affairs did show, however, with a first period glove-drop between Maine’s Jake Bricknell and Orlando’s Luke McInnis. The physicality boiled over again in the second, when Bird boarded Connor Doherty, and shoving ensued, adding a penalty to both Bird and Conner Bleackley. But despite all that, and a 33-shot combined second period, the early goals by Shea, the insurance goal by Santos, and a late empty-netter from Cam Askew were more than enough for Maine to pull away with the victory.
The Mariners (15-14-3-1) continue their homestand this upcoming weekend, hosting three different opponents; The Trois-Rivières Lions, Reading Royals, and Worcester Railers. Meanwhile, the Solar Bears host the Utah Grizzlies on Thursday night, and then again on Monday, January 31.