ORLANDO, Fla. — The Gwinnett Gladiators had one of the hottest teams in the ECHL on the ropes Saturday night in front of 8,758 raucous fans at the Amway Center, but two goals by Mickey Lang carried the Orlando Solar Bears to a dramatic 5-4 win in overtime.
Dirk Southern gave Gwinnett (18-27-2-2) a 4-3 lead 9:49 into the third, as he took a feed from Joey Haddad and sniped a shot over the left shoulder of Orlando (28-16-1-2) goalie Cody Reichard.
Josh Currie had the second assist.
The Gladiators threatened several times to add to the edge, with Reichard robbing Bobby Hughes with a lunging glove stop late in regulation to keep the Solar Bears alive.
The league’s leading scorer then drew Orlando even with just 9.8 seconds remaining in the third. With an extra attacker on the ice, Lang ripped his 28th goal of the season past a screened Scott Stajcer to tie the game at 4-4.
After a Haddad high-sticking call early in overtime, Lang struck again, sliding a shot from the far circle under Stajcer to seal a 5-4 Bears win. Orlando extended its winning streak to six games, and its home winning streak to 10 games.
Stajcer took the hard luck loss, making a number of brilliant stops in turning aside 39-of-44 on the night, while Reichard picked up his second win in as many nights against the Gladiators making 37 saves.
Gwinnett is next in action Friday, February 21st at 7:05 p.m. at the Arena at Gwinnett Center against the Reading Royals to kick off Puck Dynasty Weekend.
Marshall Everson put Gwinnett ahead 2:37 into the game, as he backhanded a rebound under Reichard on the power play. Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Rob Kwiet had the assists.
Orlando answered late in the period, as former Gladiator Tyler Murovich sent a slick saucer pass to the slot that was hammered home by Taylor Matson at 17:43.
Gwinnett built up a two-goal lead in the second period. Evan Bloodoff tucked a rebound under the glove of Reichard from the near side from Everson and Pierro-Zabotel for a 2-1 Gwinnett lead at 9:27. A little over two minutes later, Everson rifled a rebound from the slot past Reichard for his second goal of the night and 14th of the season. Pierro-Zabotel had the lone helper, and Gwinnett held a 3-1 edge.
The Solar Bears again answered though. A Zach Harrison shot was stopped by Stajcer, but the rebound shot off the end wall, flew back in front of the net, and was tipped in by Cody Wild at 13:56. The puck appeared to be directed in with a high stick, but the goal stood. Orlando then drew even with 1:30 remaining in the period, with Matson beating Stajcer with a wrist shot from the low slot for his second tally of the evening. The score stayed even at 3-3 into the third.
Orlando fnished 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Gladiators went 1-for-3.