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Solar Bears Den: Bird is the word

Orlando gets a split while a former Syracuse PTO gets rewarded.

Gary Bassing/Orlando Solar Bears

After a stretch of 5 games in 7 days, the Orlando Solar Bears got a break in the ECHL schedule this week, with just two games on the docket.

Despite a 1-1 week, the team kept pace in the South Division, received more help from their unofficial affiliate, and another Solar Bear was recognized by the league.

News of the Week:

-On Tuesday, San Jose returned goaltender Zach Emond and defenseman Cole Moberg to the Solar Bears, as the Sharks organization is getting back to full strength after its recent COVID protocols. Emond appeared in 3 games for the Barracuda, going 1-1 with a 7.00 GAA and .818 save percentage. Moberg had one assist in 3 games.

-After a successful return to the lineup from an extended stay in Syracuse, forward Tyler Bird was named the Inglasco ECHL Player of the Week. He appeared in all 5 games last week, with five goals and two assists.

-With the return of goaltender Max Lagace to the Crunch, goaltender Alex Dubeau was released from his PTO. However, with three goalies already on the Solar Bears roster, he became the odd man out and has been suspended by the team to keep his ECHL playing rights.

Game #11, Wednesday 11/17: Florida 3, Orlando 2

Orlando wrapped up their five-game road trip on Wednesday in the same place it started—Estero.

Before most of the fans were likely in their seats, Florida jumped ahead 1-0 on a goal by John McCarron.

Orlando recovered nicely with a pair of goals in the second against Everblades goaltender Cam Johnson. Aaron Luchuk extended his point streak to 11 games with his 9th goal of the season at the 2:47 mark to tie the game at 1.

On the Solar Bears’ lone power play opportunity, Michael Brodzinski connected for his 3rd goal of the season with 1:18 to go in the period for a 2-1 lead.

The Everblades took over the game in the third, outshooting the Solar Bears 25-7 and making a comeback. Blake Winiecki matched Luchuk with his 9th goal at the 10:02 mark for a 2-2 tie. Joe Pendenza then scored his third with 3:45 to go in regulation for the final 3-2 margin.

Brad Barone took the hard luck loss in net, stopping 50 of 53 shots, including 23 in the final 20 minutes. The teams combined for just six penalty minutes, with the Everblades not going on a single power play.

Game #12, Saturday 11/20: Orlando 5, Maine 4

The Solar Bears returned to the Amway Center on Saturday and welcomed a new opponent—the North Division’s Mariners, making their first ever trip to Florida in their three-season existence.

After a scoreless opening period, the teams went back and forth in the second. Bird scored a shorthanded goal at the 3:39 mark for a 1-0 Orlando lead. Justin Brazeau tied the game at 1 for Maine with 8:39 to go. Steenn Pasichnuk put the Solar Bears back up by a goal with his 3rd at the 16:19 mark, only to have Maine tie it again with 1:56 remaining on a Victor Berglund goal.

Orlando took over the contest quickly in the third, as Kevin Lohan scored :25 in for a 3-2 lead. Luke Boka made it 4-2 at the 2:51 mark with his 2nd of the season. Things got interesting late in the third, as Cameron Askew scored his fifth with 3:24 remaining to cut the lead to 4-3. However, Brodzinski put the exclamation point on with a full length shot to put Orlando back up by two.

Maine was not about to go away quietly, cutting the lead to 5-4 with 32 seconds remaining in regulation, but could not get that tying goal. With the win, Orlando improved to 4-0 on home ice for the first time in franchise history.

Emond was solid in his return to the lineup, stopping 21 of 25 shots. Nine Orlando skaters registered at least one point, but one of them was not Luchuk, who was held off the scoresheet for the first time this season.

Upcoming:

It’s going to be another busy week for the Solar Bears as Thanksgiving arrives.

Orlando heads north to Atlanta on Tuesday to take on the Gladiators, then they return home for a 4 game set with Norfolk. After a special 11 AM Thanksgiving Day start, the two teams will face off Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.