Who will roar loudest after this weekend?
We’ll find out this afternoon at Mile One Centre.
Just-arrived Colby McAuley had a hat trick as the visiting Orlando Solar Bears doubled the Newfoundland Growlers 4-2 before a large gathering Saturday night at Mile One to even up their mini regular-season ECHL series at 1-1.
The teams play the rubber match this afternoon (4 p.m.).
Orlando (32-21-4) had scored the opening goal in a 5-1 loss to Newfoundland (39-17-4), and did so again in the rematch as McAuley, playing his first game since being reassigned from the AHL”s San Jose Barracuda, struck just 32 seconds into the contest.
But this time, they didn’t allow the home side to take the lead.
The Growlers’ Derian Plouffe did score later in the opening period, but McAuley tallied again midway through the second and Trevor Olson extended the margin to two goals with a power-play marker later in the middle frame as the visitors stayed in front the rest of the way.
Defenceman Garrett Johnston registered his first ECHL goal with about six minutes left in the contest to bring the North Division-leading Growlers to within one, but Newfoundland hopes for a comeback took a big body blow just over a minute-and-a-half later when McAuley completed his hat trick and restored Orlando’s two-goal lead.
Former Canadian world junior goalie Connor Ingram made 23 saves for the Solar Bears, while the Growlers’ Eamon McAdam faced 27 shots in the game, which was played in front of a crowd of 5,778.
This afternoon’s game is not just the rubber match of the Newfoundland-Orlando weekend series. It will also decided if the Growlers will go above .500 in a compacted seven-game homestand, played over 10 days.
Newfoundland has won three and lost three — all of the results in regulation — so far in this Mile One stay, which ends with the Growlers and Solar Bears meeting for the third time in 68 hours, taking into consideration that the clocks went ahead Saturday night in accordance with Daylight Savings Time.
The three stars Saturday: 1. McAuley, 2. Orlando’s Mitch Hults (2A) 3. Newfoundland’s Brady Ferguson (1A) … The Growlers’ power play was zero-for-six on the night. The Solar Bears were one-for-two … Orlando defenceman and St. John’s native Cody Donaghey, who is the Solar Bears’ second-leading scorer, didn’t have a point for a second straight game, but is plus-two in the series …