After a busy month of December, the Orlando Solar Bears got a well-earned break to celebrate the holidays.
Hopefully the Best Smile in the ECHL made the “NICE” list.— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 25, 2019
But before the team could turn the calendar to 2020, there were two more games to play. Both games were against South Division foes heading in different directions: one at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the other riding a 15-game point streak. There were mixed results, with both games brought to you by the number zero.
-While Zachary Fucale is in Switzerland with Team Canada in the Spengler Cup, Orlando signed goaltender Chase Perry from the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers to back up Clint Windsor. The Minnesota native was 9-4-2 with a 2.39 GAA and .906 save percentage in 15 appearances for Pensacola.
Speaking of Fucale, he and Team Canada got off to a good start in Davos on Thursday, defeating HC Ocelari Trinec 4-1. Check out the highlights here:
-After appearing in two games and going scoreless, forward Eddie Matsushima was released. He will return to Pensacola.
It was back to work on home ice on Thursday night, as the Solar Bears hosted the Icemen.
Your starting lineup for the tonight! pic.twitter.com/Hcqd2qfnNQ— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 27, 2019
The Solar Bears continued their offensive resurgence with a pair of goals in the first period. Tyler Bird got Orlando on the board 4:59 into the contest with his second goal of the season. Johno May continued his hot play with his fifth goal since joining the team—and ninth overall—with 8:11 remaining in the period to double the lead.
Orlando continued their offensive attack in the middle frame. With Alexey Lipanov in the box, Chris LeBlanc scored shorthanded for a 3-0 lead.
Bird added his second goal of the game at the 10:28 mark, making it a 4-0 Orlando lead and ending the night for Jacksonville goaltender Michael McNiven, who was replaced by Adam Carlson.
Windsor took care of the rest in net, as he stopped all 24 Icemen shots—including this play—for his second shutout of the season.
Orlando improved to 6-0 against Jacksonville in the season series.
3. Trevor Olson (ORL) 1 assist
2. Tyler Bird (ORL) 2 goals
1. Clint Windsor (ORL) 24 saves, SHO
To close out the 2019 portion of the schedule, the Solar Bears headed to South Carolina for the third time in the month of December to face the Stingrays.
Tonight’s starters: pic.twitter.com/HBsKdVT1cN— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 28, 2019
The first two periods saw a goaltending duel between Windsor and South Carolina’s Logan Thompson, as they combined to stop all 36 shots faced (the Stingrays outshot Orlando 20-16). Orlando thought they had a goal as time expired in the second, but...well, check out the replay:
South Carolina finally broke up the scoreless duel 2:20 into the third, as Jonathan Charbonneau scored his fourth goal of the season. Andrew Cherniwchan then added his 14th goal at the 7:51 mark to double the Stingray lead. Mark Cooper then added an empty netter with less than a minute remaining to seal the win for South Carolina, who extended their current point streak to 16 games (12-0-3-1) and improved their season series record against Orlando to 7-0-1-0.
Windsor finished with 27 saves in the loss, his first in the month of December. The Solar Bears could only manage 19 shots against Thompson, who picked up his second shutout against Orlando this season.
3. Jonathan Charbonneau (SC) 1 goal
2. Andrew Cherniwchan (SC) 1 goal
1. Logan Thompson (SC) 19 saves, SHO
It’s an extended vacation for Orlando to ring in 2020. The team has just one game on the schedule—a Sunday afternoon matchup at home against Brampton.
However, those in Tampa have an opportunity to check out the team on Thursday afternoon in nearby Lakeland.
The Solar Bears will be at Lakeland Ice Arena on Thursday, Jan. 2 as they host an on-ice clinic with members of the Lakeland Royals youth team at 3 p.m., followed by a practice that is open to the public to attend at 4 p.m. pic.twitter.com/ckfWa9WNsi— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 27, 2019