There is no better way for the Orlando Solar Bears to get back into the schedule after an extended break than three games in three days against an in-state rival for the second week in a row. This time around, it was a team just ahead of the Solar Bears in the standings, Jacksonville.
One shutout and two late-game comebacks later, Orlando is ringing in the New Year on a high note after taking two out of three from the IceMen.
After a five day break for Christmas, it was back to work, as Orlando headed north for the first of two in Jacksonville against the IceMen.
The hosts got off to a good start in the opening period against Solar Bear goaltender Corbin Boes. On the IceMen’s first power play of the evening, Christophe Lalancette scored his first of the season for a 1-0 lead. Garrett Ladd doubled the Jacksonville lead with his 5th of the season.
Orlando got on the board late in the first, as Jonne Tammela picked up his fourth of the season to cut the lead in half.
Jonne Tammela scores at the end of the first to get Orlando on the board! pic.twitter.com/JmfxzK0kec— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 28, 2018
After a scoreless second period, the Solar Bears made a comeback in the third. Tammela tied the game at 2 at the 3:14 mark with his second of the game. Forward Mike Robinson gave Orlando their first lead of the night just under five minutes later with his first goal of the season.
Jacksonville re-tied the game midway through the period on a goal by Maxime Fortier. But the Solar Bears would get the last laugh. Tammela completed his first professional hat trick—and picked up the game winning goal—with 5:11 remaining in regulation.
Boes picked up his fifth win of the season, stopping 33 of 36 shots. Cody Donaghey added two assists, while six other skaters had one assist each.
3. Corbin Boes (ORL) 33 saves
2. Chris LeBlanc (ORL) 1 assist
1. Jonne Tammela (ORL) 3 goals
24 hours later, the two teams met again. Charlie Millen made his Solar Bear debut in net.
Couple minutes away from night two in Jacksonville!— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 29, 2018
Millen in goal
: https://t.co/fV1V8amhMz pic.twitter.com/H3VrBBFUDS
This game was all IceMen from start to finish.
Jacksonville grabbed the early 1-0 lead just 1:15 into the opening period on a goal by Jake Randolph. Wacey Rabbit doubled the IceMen lead late in the first on his 13th goal of the season.
After a quiet second period—and by quiet we mean the teams combined for 26 penalty minutes after a fight between Curt Gogol and Garet Hunt—the IceMen put the game away in the third. Rabbit scored his second of the game shorthanded at the 10:42 mark for a 3-0 Jacksonville lead. Kris Newbury (on a power play) and Dajon Mingo then scored 52 seconds apart late in the period for a 5-0 lead. Jacksonville goaltender Tanner Jaillet took care of the rest, only facing 19 Solar Bear shots in his first professional shutout.
Not the greatest debut for Millen, as he finished with 32 saves on 37 shots.
3. Kris Newbury (JAC) 1 goal, 2 assists
2. Wacey Rabbit (JAC) 2 goals
1. Tanner Jaillet (JAC) 19 saves, SHO
It was back home to the Amway Center on Saturday as the Solar Bears finished off their three game set against the IceMen and the 2018 portion of their schedule. Orlando received some help from Syracuse, as Matthew Spencer returned for his second stint. He had been recalled on December 8th, with just one appearance for the Crunch.
It didn’t take long for Spencer to make an impact, as he scored his second of the season 8:25 into the contest for a 1-0 Orlando lead. Donaghey added a power play goal just under four minutes later for a 2-0 advantage. Fortier brought the IceMen to within a goal at the 14:04 mark with his 9th of the season.
After a scoreless second, Jacksonville finished their comeback early in the third. Newbury was awarded a penalty shot, and he connected against Boes to tie the game at two with 12:44 remaining in regulation.
Just as it looked like overtime would be needed, the Solar Bears pulled it out at the last minute—literally. Colby McAuley’s fourth goal with 51 seconds remaining in the contest gave Orlando the win, and they finished 2018 with points in six of their last 10 games, and two out of three wins against the IceMen for the week.
Boes finished with 22 saves on 24 shots for win #6. McAuley added two assists.
3. Corbin Boes (ORL) 22 saves
2. Cody Donaghey (ORL) 1 goal
1. Colby McAuley (ORL) 1 goal, 2 assists
2018 Fun Facts:
-Orlando finishes the 2018 portion of their schedule with a 16-12-3-0 mark and 35 points, good for fourth place in the ECHL’s South Division. They sit 12 points behind first place Florida, and two points behind Jacksonville and South Carolina for second.
-The Solar Bears are the only ECHL team that have yet to participate in a shootout this season.
-A total of 39 players, including four goaltenders, have appeared in at least one game in a Solar Bear uniform.
-Eight players have appeared in at least one game with both Orlando and Syracuse.
ADD: D Kevin Lohan, acquired from Toledo 12/27
DELETE: D Etienne Boutet, signed PTO with Stockton 12/27
ADD: D Matthew Spencer, reassigned from Syracuse 12/29
The Solar Bears ring in 2019 with three home games this week.
On Wednesday, Orlando plays host to Greenville to start the 2019 portion of the schedule. South Carolina returns for a pair of weekend games, on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.