As the calendar turns to February, the last one-third of the season begins for the Orlando Solar Bears. With another busy four game week against the top two teams in the South Division, the team had an opportunity to inch closer to the division leaders. However, a roster shakeup, including a surprise transaction from Syracuse, and injuries to their own blue line much like their affiliates have experienced, saw the team only take two out of a possible eight points.
But at least there was plenty of pizza.
-On Monday, forward Peter Abbandonato returned to Syracuse after about a month’s stay in Florida. In his second stint with the Solar Bears, Abbandonato appeared in 12 games, with 3 goals and 8 assists.
-A crowded net in Syracuse has now become a crowded net in Orlando, as veteran goaltender Mike Condon was reassigned to the Solar Bears on Wednesday. Condon has appeared in six games for the Crunch, posting a 3-2-1 record with a 4.10 GAA and .877 save percentage. The addition of Condon, whether temporary or for the rest of the season like Connor Ingram last year, certainly makes things interesting. Both Clint Windsor and Zachary Fucale rank in the ECHL’s top 10 in both GAA and save percentage. Windsor is also tied for second in the league with 4 shutouts.
-With injuries and callups ravaging the Syracuse blue line, Oleg Sosunov was recalled to the Crunch on Friday.
-Another defenseman, Kevin Lohan, was recalled to San Diego on Sunday. Down to six defensemen on the roster, the team signed Brandon McMartin from the SPHL’s Peoria Rivermen.
Another busy week began on Wednesday night in Estero, as the Solar Bears paid a visit to their in-state rivals the Everblades.
Almost time for puck drop — get tonight's starters and broadcast links here:— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 6, 2020
On this night, it was all about the goaltending as two of the best in the ECHL, Fucale and Florida’s Ken Appleby, each put on a clinic, keeping both teams scoreless through all three regulation periods. Fucale had 34 saves, Appleby 24 through the first 60 minutes. In overtime, it only took 1:33 for Taylor Cammarata to finish this duel off.
Taylor Cammarata called game. pic.twitter.com/obiSt20r30— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 6, 2020
Cammarata’s 11th goal of the season gave Orlando the win, finishing off a 35 save shutout for Fucale, his third of the year.
3. Ken Appleby (FLA) 25 saves
2. Taylor Cammarata (ORL) GW OT goal
1. Zachary Fucale (ORL) 35 saves, SHO
It was back to the Amway Center on Thursday, as the Solar Bears and Stingrays began a two-game set. It was another battle of the ECHL’s best to start out, as Windsor and Logan Thompson kept the game scoreless for the first 40:27.
The Stingrays thought they were going to score on this play.— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 7, 2020
Solar Bears goalie Clint Windsor had other plans. ♂️ pic.twitter.com/NRAPhifRJN
However, the Stingrays were able to break the tie early in the third, as a Branden Troock goal gave them a 1-0 advantage. The floodgates then opened up late in the game, as the Stingrays scored three times in a span of 1:18 for the victory, including goals 11 seconds apart from Neal Goff and Max Novak, and an empty netter by Jaynen Rissling.
Thompson finished with 34 saves and his third shutout of the year, second against Orlando. Windsor stopped 24 of 27 in the loss.
3. Logan Thompson (SC) 34 saves, SHO
2. Branden Troock (SC) 1 goal
1. Neal Goff (SC) 1 goal
Condon got the nod in his first ECHL appearance since the 2013-14 season with Wheeling, as Orlando looked to avoid the sweep against the Stingrays.
After a scoreless first period, the Stingrays got on the board against Condon in the second. Goals by Troock and Cameron Askew in a span of 1:01 put South Carolina ahead 2-0. The Solar Bears finally broke a scoreless string of 104:39 early in the third, as Rich Boyd scored his 6th of the year to cut the South Carolina lead in half. Unfortunately, that was as close as they would get, as Stingrays goaltender Parker Milner shut the door the rest of the way.
Condon played well in his Orlando debut but took a hard luck loss, stopping 25 of 27 shots. Trevor Olson and Eric Drapluk had the lone assists.
3. Cameron Askew (SC) 1 goal
2. Parker Milner (SC) 39 saves
1. Branden Troock (SC) 1 goal, 1 assist
To finish off another busy week, the Solar Bears hosted the Everblades. In honor of National Pizza Day, the team held a Pizza Party Palooza, complete with pepperoni pizza jerseys!
The team even surprised a few season ticket holders with free pizza.
It's #NationalPizzaDay, so the guys delivered some hot and fresh pizzas to some lucky fans!— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 9, 2020
Thanks to our friends at @pizzahut for helping make this possible!
Don't forget, today is also Pizza Party Palooza — get your tickets now!
: https://t.co/Xhg8xgUNMu pic.twitter.com/wm6rhyBOFe
Condon got his second start, while the Solar Bears played with a very short lineup.
It was a very quick start on both sides, as the teams exchanged goals within the first 54 seconds of the contest. John McCarron got the visitors on the board first at the :49 with his 11th of the season. Chris LeBlanc responded just five seconds later for a 1-1 tie with his 12th. With Tayler Thompson serving a high sticking double minor, Olson cashed in with a shorthanded goal to give Orlando a 2-1 lead 3:37 into the first.
Florida tied the game early in the second on a power play goal by Zach Magwood, then jumped ahead 3-2 with 2:08 remaining in the period on a Hugo Roy tally. To add insult to injury—well, the other way around, actually—Alexey Lipanov blocked a shot and was forced to leave the game with a lower body injury.
McCarron then added his second of the day 2:12 into the third for a 4-2 Everblades lead. Orlando was not quite done, though—Jake Coughler picked up a power play goal at the 10:33 mark to cut the Florida lead to 4-3. Unfortunately, that was as close as they would get, as Justin Auger restored the Everblades’ two-goal lead 1:23 later, then a Blake Winiecki empty-netter sealed it late.
Condon fell to 0-2 since arriving from Syracuse, finishing with 22 saves on 27 shots. LeBlanc and Drapluk each added two assists.
3. Levko Koper (FLA) 3 assists
2. Chris LeBlanc (ORL) 1 goal, 2 assists
1. Zach Magwood (FLA) 1 goal, 2 assists
The Solar Bears’ homestand continues with a 3-in-3 weekend for Valentine’s Day. Orlando will host Norfolk on Friday and Saturday, then Atlanta pays a visit on Sunday afternoon.