ORLANDO, FLA. — Alex Swetlikoff recorded his first career professional hat trick in Savannah’s 5-2 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears on Thursday night at Amway Center.
CJ Hayes opened the scoring for the Ghost Pirates, lighting the lamp 51 seconds after the opening puck drop with his second goal of the season. Hayes, a native of Margate, FL, buried a backhander following a pass from Logan Drevitch at the goal line.
Swetlikoff recorded a secondary assist on the goal. Hayes has scored goals in back-to-back games.
Shawn Szydlowski answered for the Solar Bears, tying the game shortly after Savannah killed off a four-minute double-minor power play. Szydlowski’s ninth goal of the season came at 5:25.
Savannah re-gained the lead after Drevitch hit Swetlikoff for a breakaway following an egregiously timed line change by the Solar Bears. Swetlikoff was left uncontested down the slot, beating Orlando goaltender Jack LaFontaine above the right shoulder at 9:09.
The Ghost Pirates held a 2-1 lead after the first period while being outshot 13-7.
Luke Boka was credited with Orlando’s second goal of the night 1:26 into the second period after the puck inadvertently bounced over Max Kaufman’s stick and past Jordan Papirny. However, Kaufman would get the last laugh later in the period with Savannah on a five-minute power play.
With Dmitry Semykin assessed a charging major, Kaufman spun a shot from the slot, hitting Swetlikoff’s skate en route to the back of the net at 16:51.
Swetlikoff became the fourth Ghost Pirates player to record double-digit goals this season, joining Vincent Marleau, Brent Pedersen and Pat Guay.
Savannah went into the second-period intermission with a 3-2 lead.
Mike Ferraro, who was hit by Semykin late in the middle frame, did not return to the game. As a result, the Ghost Pirates were down to eight forwards for the rest of the game.
Sacha Roy began the night on defense and joined the third forward line with Jake Pappalardo and Connor Graham. Roy would make the most of his unique chance, scoring his first professional goal at 6:05. Roy broke down the right wing, held off a defender and poked the puck through LaFontaine with one hand on his stick.
Pappalardoand Brandon Estes recorded the assists on Roy's insurance marker. Swetlikoff capped off the night with an empty-net goal at 19:45, securing his first professional hat trick. The 21-year-old rookie is now tied for second on the Ghost Pirates in goals with 11.
Papirny recorded his fifth win of the season on Thursday night, stopping 32 shots; the 26-year-old goaltender is 3-0-1 in his last four starts.
Savannah was 1-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. The Ghost Pirates take on the Solar Bears tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at Enmarket Arena.