We have reached the unofficial midway point of the ECHL regular season, and things are looking up for the Orlando Solar Bears. After a slow start out of the gate, the team has picked up the pace despite a very busy schedule and many roster changes. Thanks to a recent three-game winning streak—including the first two games post-All Star break—the Solar Bears continue to find themselves in a playoff spot in the ECHL’s South Division as the month of January comes to a close.
ECHL All-Star Wrapup
In a very cool twist, four members of the PWHPA joined the four All-Star squads, which consisted of teams from the East, West, and two split teams of the host Wichita Thunder, Team Hammers and Team Bolts: Kali Flanagan (East), Gigi Marvin (West), Annie Pankowski (Team Bolts), and Dani Cameranesi (Team Hammers).
Flanagan was credited with the game-winning goal in the final round, a 4-3 East win over the West. Brodzinski finished with a goal and an assist in five round-robin games.
Also on Wednesday, forward Jimmy Huntington returned to Orlando after a quick return to Syracuse two weeks earlier. He appeared in four games for the Crunch with one assist.
After a few days off, the Solar Bears got back at it on Thursday night, as they played host to the IceMen.
Here's tonight's starting lineup! pic.twitter.com/SjCHtn66zJ— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 24, 2020
The teams exchanged goals in the opening period. Huntington marked his return to the Orlando lineup with his 2nd ECHL goal of the season for a 1-0 lead 7:31 into the contest. Alexis D’Aoust tied the game up 3:01 later with his 9th goal.
The Solar Bears took control of the game in the second. Johno May continued his tear since coming over from Greenville, scoring his 13th goal at the 1:38 mark for a 2-1 Orlando lead. Jake Coughler added his 7th with 10:43 remaining in the period for a two-goal advantage. Just 17 seconds later, Jacksonville cut the lead to 3-2 on an Emerson Clark tally.
Orlando put the game away late in the third, as Tyler Bird and Trevor Olson scored 1:18 apart —Olson’s an empty-netter—for the final 5-2 margin.
Zachary Fucale picked up his 7th win of the season, stopping 24 of 26 shots. In a well-balanced attack, seven different skaters had one assist each.
3. Zachary Fucale (ORL) 24 saves
2. Michael Brodzinski (ORL) No points but a +3 so...(shrug)
1. Jake Coughler (ORL) 1 goal
During the game and postgame, the team honored head equipment manager Mike Dexter, who worked his 1000th pro hockey game on Thursday night.
Last night Solar Bears head equipment manager Adam Dexter worked his 1,000th regular season game of pro hockey — in addition to an in-game video acknowledging the milestone, 'Dex' had a few surprises after the win.— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 24, 2020
Go inside the locker room thanks to our friends at @jewettortho! pic.twitter.com/KITOPHLQbM
On Friday, Fucale was recalled to Syracuse after an injury to Scott Wedgewood on Wednesday. He backed up Spencer Martin in the Crunch’s 4-3 shootout loss to Binghamton at home that night. To replace Fucale on the roster, the Solar Bears signed SPHL journeyman goaltender Stephen Klein.
To close out the week, the Solar Bears hosted the Swamp Rabbits for a special 12 noon start time.
Here's this afternoon's starting lineup! pic.twitter.com/SvUtGs63iC— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 25, 2020
Orlando grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Taylor Cammarata’s 9th goal of the season. After a scoreless second, the Solar Bears put the game away in the third. At the 1:42 mark, Olson scored his 12th goal for a 2-0 advantage.
On a power play midway through the third, Peter Abbandonato scored his 3rd of the year for a 3-0 lead.
Clint Windsor took care of the rest in net, stopping all 28 Greenville shots for his fourth shutout of the season and his ninth win. Defenseman Eric Drapluk added two assists.
3. Eric Drapluk (ORL) 2 assists
2. Trevor Olson (ORL) 1 goal
1. Clint Windsor (ORL) 28 saves, SHO
It’s a busy end of January for the Solar Bears. It starts tonight, as Orlando finishes out a three-game homestand against Jacksonville. Then the team heads to the Midwest for a three-game road swing, starting in Cincinnati on Wednesday, then to Wheeling on Friday and Saturday.