As a defenseman, Connor Goggin isn't counted on to do a lot of scoring.
But Saturday night was a different story.
Goggin scored the Orlando Solar Bears' first two goals, and Jacob Cepis also scored twice — including the game-winner with seven minutes left — as Orlando rallied to beat the Evansville IceMen 5-4 before an announced crowd of 8,458. The Solar Bears scored the game's final three goals.
It was the second time in three nights that the Solar Bears (40-22-2-2, 84 points) have beaten the IceMen (29-27-4-7, 69 points) at Amway Center. Orlando could have clinched an ECHL Eastern Conference playoff berth with a victory, coupled with a loss by the Florida Everblades.
The Everblades knocked off the Cincinnati Cyclones 4-0.
The Solar Bears are tied with the South Carolina Stingrays atop the South Division with 84 points. They are tied for third place in the conference behind the Reading Royals (87 points) and Kalamazoo Wings (85).
On the Solar Bears' decisive goal, Cepis beat Evansville goaltender Mike Clemente with a shot between his pads after getting a nice pass from forward Mickey Lang.
"This is a huge win," said Cepis, who has 18 goals of the season. "The biggest thing is, you can't give up. This win will really help us going on the road for the next three games."
The Solar Bears' victory wasn't assured until they fought off one last power-play opportunity for Evansville and got some nifty goaltending from reserve Maxime Clermont, who was constantly under pressure in the final minute.
Clermont replaced Cody Reichard after Evansville scored its fourth goal and saved all 12 shots he faced.
The game was filled with plenty of offensive highlights, especially in the second period when both teams scored three times. Coggin scored once each in the first and second periods, giving him seven goals this season.
Evansville kept Reichard busy through the first period, peppering him with 18 shots and scoring once. The pressure finally took a toll in the second period.
"The change was to shake things up a little," Solar Bears coach Vince Williams said, "We were turning the puck over too many times, and that was creating too many opportunities for them."
The Solar Bears have six games remaining in their regular season, the next three on the road. They will travel to face the Reading Royals on Wednesday night and don't return to Amway Center until April 10 to face the Greenville Road Warriors.
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