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Solar Bears outlast visiting Gladiators

ORLANDO, Fla. — Brenden Walker and Evan Bloodoff scored second-period goals, but the Orlando Solar Bears held off the Gwinnett Gladiators Friday night 4-2 at the Amway Center.

A former Gladiator opened the scoring, as Tyler Murovich deflected a Bryce Aneloski shot through the legs of Gwinnett (18-27-1-2) goaltender Mathieu Corbeil for a 1-0 Solar Bears (27-16-1-2) lead 7:14 into the game.

Aneloski pushed Orlando ahead 2-0 just 1:17 later, streaking down the right wing and beating Corbeil with a shot mid-blocker side.

Gwinnett came back to pull within a goal in the second. Walker let loose a slapper just shy of the Orlando blue line that knuckled under the blocker of Cody Reichard and in at 9:57 from Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Marshall Everson.

Jacob Cepis answered for Orlando with a blast from the far point at 11:09 on the power play, but Gwinnett cut the deficit to 3-2. Bloodoff scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season, as he put a shot off the inside of Reichard’s blocker from long distance and into the net at 16:46. Matthew Clune and Bobby Hughes had the helpers.

Taylor Matson however added an insurance marker for Orlando late in the third, knocking in a shot that originally bounced off Corbeil’s blocker at 16:46 to seal a 4-2 Orlando win.

The same two teams meet again Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Amway Center. The Gladiators return home for Puck Dynasty Weekend Feb. 21-23 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.