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Solar Bears Week in Review: Climbing the Ladder

An offensive outburst gives Orlando 4 out of 6 points for the week. Plus, accolades for Martin Ouellette.

Martin Ouellette, seen here playing for the Syracuse Crunch this past January, was named ECHL Goaltender of the Week last week!
Scott Thomas Photography

After a perfect week last week, the Orlando Solar Bears were hoping to carry that momentum into another three-game set this week. Despite a slow start, the team found their offensive stroke in a big way. As a result, they moved up in the ECHL’s South Division standings.

News and Notes:

-On Tuesday, goaltender Martin Ouellette was named the CCM ECHL Goaltender of the Week for the week of February 4th-10th. All he did was go 3-0-0 with a 1.59 GAA and a .944 save percentage as the Solar Bears swept Jacksonville in a week long 3 game set.

-Also on Tuesday, the Solar Bears lost two forwards to AHL callups: Jonne Tammela returned to Syracuse, while Colby McAuley joined the San Jose Barracuda.

-On Wednesday, Orlando signed forward David Mazurek to a standard contract. He joins the Solar Bears after spending time with Atlanta and the SPHL’s Fayetteville Marksmen this season.

-The first college signing came on Friday, as the Solar Bears signed forward Jackson Playfair. The native of British Columbia comes to Orlando by way of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, where he appeared in 30 games in his third season with the school, with 7 goals and 8 assists. He has some very interesting bloodlines: His father, Jim, played for Edmonton and Chicago, and was a head coach for Calgary; his uncle, Larry, played for Buffalo and Los Angeles; and his brother, Dylan, is one of the stars of the Canadian sitcom Letterkenny.

Wednesday, 2/13: Florida 5, Orlando 2

To begin the week, the Solar Bears headed south to Estero to take on the Everblades, the current leaders of the South Division.

Things did not get off to a great start for the visitors, as Florida put up three first period goals on Ouellette. Kyle Platzer’s 21st goal of the season 2:47 into the contest gave the Everblades the early 1-0 advantage. On the first power play of the night, John McCarron added his 21st to double the Florida lead. Blake Winiecki scored his 13th late in the period for a 3-0 lead.

Florida continued to dominate in the middle period, adding two more goals against Corbin Boes, who took over in net. Cliff Pu scored his first goal since joining the Everblades from Charlotte four days earlier for a 4-0 lead. On their second power play midway through the period, Tommy Thompson scored his 12th of the season for a commanding 5-0 Everblades lead.

Orlando finally found its way onto the scoresheet as the game was winding down. With 4:13 remaining, a shorthanded goal by Mathieu Foget cut the deficit to 4. Akim Aliu added his first since joining Orlando with 13 seconds remaining for the final 5-2 score.

In his first start since earning the ECHL Goaltender of the Week award, Ouellette did not make it past the first period, stopping 13 of 16. Boes finished with 25 saves on 27 shots in 40 minutes of work. Matthew Spencer and three other skaters had one assist each.

3 Stars:

3. John McCarron (FLA) 1 goal, 1 assist

2. Kyle Platzer (FLA) 1 goal, 1 assist

1. Cliff Pu (FLA) 1 goal, 2 assists

Friday, 2/15: Orlando 6, Jacksonville 3

For the fourth time in nine days, the Solar Bears and IceMen faced off, and, for the second straight Friday, it was on Orlando’s home ice.

This time around, it was Orlando getting off to the hot start. Mike Monfredo scored his 6th goal of the season 8:40 into the opening period for a 1-0 lead.

Second period was single-handedly all about Corey Kalk, as he scored twice in a span of 6:35 to put the Solar Bears up 3-0 midway through the contest. Garrett Ladd got the IceMen on the board at the 12:18 mark of the second with his 9th for a 3-1 Orlando lead. Kalk then finished off the hat trick with 27 seconds to go in the middle period to give the Solar Bears a 4-1 lead.

Wacey Rabbit cut the Orlando lead to 4-2 at the 7:01 mark of the third period, but Trevor Olson responded with his 8th of the season to restore the 3 goal lead. Everett Clark added his 7th with 4:04 remaining to bring Jacksonville back to within two, but an empty netter by Alex Schoenborn late sealed the Solar Bear win.

Ouellette rebounded nicely from Wednesday’s short outing, stopping 28 of 31 IceMen shots. Zach Frye and Mike Robinson each added two assists. Playfair made his professional debut and earned his first assist on Schoenborn’s empty net goal.

3 Stars:

3. Mike Robinson (ORL) 2 assists

2. Mike Monfredo (ORL) 1 goal, 1 assist

1. Corey Kalk (ORL) 3 goals

Sunday, 2/17: Orlando 8, Manchester 2

After a rare day off on Saturday, Orlando celebrated Hockey Day in America with a Sunday matinee matchup against the Monarchs, the first non-South Division opponent the Solar Bears have faced since November 24th.

While the Solar Bears were well rested, Manchester bused up from Estero after defeating Florida the night before. That may or may not explain the offensive explosion Orlando put on in this one.

Aliu picked up his second Orlando goal 2:04 into the contest for a quick 1-0 Solar Bears lead.

Schoenborn doubled the Orlando lead with 1:23 to go in the first with his 7th of the season.

The Solar Bears took over the game in the second and never looked back. Kalk added his fourth goal of the weekend at the 4:18 mark for a 3 goal lead. Playfair then picked up his first professional goal with 5:17 left in the period for a 4-0 lead, chasing Monarchs goaltender Charles Williams out of the net in favor of Cole Kehler. Despite the change, the offense kept coming. Aliu scored his second of the day with 1:57 left in the period for a 5-0 Orlando lead.

On a very late power play, Manchester finally got on the scoresheet, cutting the lead to 5-1 on a goal by Nic Pierog, his 23rd of the season.

The Solar Bears continued their offensive onslaught in the third period. Tayler Thompson scored his 5th at the 4:39 mark for a 6-1 lead. Robinson added the extra point with his 4th goal to make it 7-1. Zach Frye then added his first of the season at the 14:24 mark for an 8-1 advantage. Tony Cameranesi scored his 17th for Manchester on a power play with 19 seconds remaining to finish the scoring.

The benefactor of all the offense was Ouellette, who stopped 40 of 42 shots. All but two skaters got on the scoresheet, lead by four assists from Dylan Fitze. Aliu and Thompson each had three-point games, and every skater finished at a +1 or higher for the day. The eight goal outburst is a season high for Orlando—they hit 7 on two separate occasions.

3 Stars:

3. Akim Aliu (ORL) 2 goals, 1 assist

2. Jackson Playfair (ORL) 1 goal, 1 assist

1. Martin Ouellette (ORL) 40 saves

With the win, Orlando now sits in second place in the ECHL’s South Division, 18 points behind first place Florida. They lead third place Jacksonville by one point, and fourth place South Carolina by two points.

This Week:

A six-game homestand continues for Orlando this week, with three more games. Norfolk drops in for a visit on a rare Thursday night. Then, a two game weekend set against Greenville on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.