ELMIRA, N.Y. - Led by Ryan Rashid's one goal, one assist effort, five different rookies posted points to power Elmira past the Orlando Solar Bears by a 5-1 score on Friday night. Additionally, rookie goalie Chris Driedger picked up the win in his pro debut to help the Jackals break an 11-game losing streak and improve to 23-37-8 on the season.
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Orlando entered play on Friday night boasting one of the league's best offenses and the top goal scorer in Mickey Lang with 44. But the Solar Bears found themselves overwhelmed by Elmira's attack which produced four goals in a span of 7:13. Riley Boychuk started the barrage with a wrist shot from the right wing at 11:46 that slid through the pads of former Jackals goalie Maxime Clermont. Troy Vance and Colin Jacobs assisted as Vance earned his first pro point. A pair of vets teamed up for a power play strike at 13:21 when Jordan Pietrus was set up by Mike Vaskivuo for his 12th goal of the season. Rashid then took over by converting an Orlando turnover into his second goal in as many games at 16:43 and then by setting up Dane Walters' 10th of the season with 1:01 left in the frame. While the Jackals attackers were filling the net Driedger stopped eight shots in the first to send Elmira into the second with a big lead.
While the first period saw Elmira capitalize on the lone power play opportunity, the second period was littered with special teams play. Orlando had three chances while the Jackals had two, including just under a minute of 4-on-3 power play time. It wound up being Orlando's shorthanded play that provided the best scoring opportunities. Ian Slater raced in on a shorthanded breakaway with Kyle Bushee serving an interference minor early in the frame. As Slater deked right he unleashed a wrist shot that hit the post and clanged up the wing. In the ensuing puck battle Tyler Murovich dug it off the wall and created a two-on-none with Slater. This time Driedger came out to challenge and made a pad save to preserve Elmira's four-goal lead. The Jackals saved their best for last when rookie Will Frederick, who was making his Jackals debut, raced up ice in a one-on-one battle against Connor Goggin. Without a lane to the net Frederick left a drop pass for Bushee who drilled home his seventh of the season with 15 seconds left before the intermission.
Driedger had stopped 21 shots in the first 40 minutes of play and was inching closer to a storybook ending for his pro debut. Orlando's Taylor Matson spoiled the party, though, when he redirected a Cody Wild point shot for a power play goal just past seven minutes into the frame. That was as close as Orlando would get, though, as the Jackals played stout defense the rest of the way and held the Solar Bears without another quality scoring opportunity.
Driedger, in total, turned in 30 saves for his first pro win. The Jackals connected for one power play goal in five tries and killed off four of Orlando's power play chances.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals celebrate Fan Appreciation Day at their final home game on Saturday, April 5 against Evansville. There will be a team photo giveaway, end-of-the-year player awards, and more! Don't forget that groups of 10 or more who book in advance receive discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability. Call 607-734-7825 to get your group outing booked.