The Orlando Solar Bears' 2-0 win Tuesday over the Jacksonville Icemen at the Amway Center had a bit of a playoff-game feel down on the ice.
While there's a couple more games left in the regular season, that game did have playoff implications. With the win, Orlando clinched the No. 2 playoff see in the South Division and will have home-ice advantage when the ECHL division semifinals being Wednesday. And, oddly enough, Jacksonville is all but locked in as the No. 3 seed and the opponent. Game 2 will be on Friday, April 12.
Goalie Connor Ingram made a pair of first-period Orlando goals stand up with a 30-save shutout, his first of the year and becoming the third Solar Bears goalie to hang a bagel this season.
"He's great goalie, he's just had to find his rythym," Coach Drake Berehowsky of Ingram's effort and his play of late. "He's been moved around teams (Orlando to AHL affiliate Syracuse), and hopefully he keeps going.
"Both teams played hard, they have a great team over there. It was a pretty close game and both teams had chances, fortunately for us we got the bounces. The guys are excited about playing at home but we have two games left to get ready for to think about who we play in the playoffs."
Troy Bourke opened the scoring 5:39 into the game when he took a pass from Colby McAuley and fired in a shot from right in front of the net. Newcomer Alexei Lipanov, who arrived earlier in the week from the Ontario Hockey League, scored a power-play goal on his first shot as a Solar Bear as a 5-on-3 advantage ended less than eight minutes later.
"Got here two days ago and practice once, so it's unbelievable scoring in my first game," the 19-year-old Russian said. "I was a little nervous before the game with everything new, but it's 5-on-3 it's easy to find an open spot and (Chris) LeBlanc slid a pass to me and I shot it, it went in. It was good."
From there, Ingram turned away the Icemen time after time, although the defense kept the ice clean in front of him and forced him to make just four third-period shots.
"Two of the first three shots were the hardest I had to work," Ingram said. "They hit the post four times, which is nice."
The team travels to Estero Friday for its final regular-season meeting with the rival Florida Everblades, who have long locked up the South Division title. The final pre-playoff tune-up is Sunday's regular-season finale against, ironically, Jacksonville.