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Luchuk scores late to lift Solar Bears to 3-2 win over Icemen

Photo credit: Gary Lloyd McCullough

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —  Aaron Luchuk took advantage of an opponent attempting to keep its playoff hopes alive and broke a 2-2 tie with a shorthanded empty-net goal with 1:28 remaining in regulation as the Orlando Solar Bears (36-26-6-1) defeated the Jacksonville Icemen (33-29-3-4) on Tuesday night at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena to improve to 3-0-1-0 over its last four games.

Luchuk scored the game-winning tally as the Icemen had a power play late in the game and in need of a regulation win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Jacksonville pulled goaltender Charles Williams to create a 6-on-4 advantage, but Tristin Langan, who had scored the tying score for Orlando earlier in the frame - won a battle along the boards in the defensive zone and fed Luchuk, who carried the puck to neutral ice and flipped it into a wide-open net to eliminate Jacksonville from playoff contention.

Clint Windsor made 21 saves for his 23rd victory of the season to take over the league lead in goaltender wins; the victory was also Windsor’s 42nd career win with the Solar Bears, allowing Windsor to shatter Ryan Massa’s club records for wins in a single season (2015-16) and in career victories.

VIEW BOX SCORE

First Period
Orlando goal: Tad Kozun (4) at 9:46. Assisted by Fabrizio Ricci and Michael Joly.
Shots: ORL 9, JAX 10

Second Period
Jacksonville goal: Erik Bradford (10) at 8:06. Assisted by Ara Nazarian and Trevor Hamilton.
Shots: ORL 5, JAX 7

Third Period 
Jacksonville goal: Mike Szmatula (21) at 4:59. Assisted by Abbott Girduckis and Wacey Rabbit.
Orlando goal: Tristin Langan (28) at 12:28. Assisted by Michael Joly and Alexander Kuqali.
Orlando goal: Aaron Luchuk (27) [EN-SH] at 18:22. Assisted by Tristin Langan.
Shots: ORL 6, JAX 6

Goaltending:
ORL: Clint Windsor, 21-for-23
JAX: Charles Williams, 17-for-19

THREE STARS:
1) Aaron Luchuk - ORL
2) Michael Joly - ORL
3) Tristin Langan - ORL

NOTABLES:

  • Orlando’s “Magic Number” to secure a berth in the 2021 Kelly Cup Playoffs is now reduced to five points
  • The Solar Bears are 7-5-2-0 against Jacksonville this season, with a final road game slated for Friday night
  • Luchuk improved his league-leading point totals to 73 (27g-46a) - two more than Wichita’s Anthony Beauregard
  • Langan is now tied for second in league goal-scoring with Allen’s Corey Mackin
  • Michael Joly added a pair of assists for Orlando
     

NEXT GAME:

The Solar Bears return home to host Hockey is for Everyone against the South Carolina Stingrays at the AdventHealth Rink at Amway Center on Thursday, June 3 at 7 p.m.