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Solar Bears Den: Holiday Home Cooking

Orlando takes 4 of 5 during a busy Thanksgiving week.

When there’s just one piece of pumpkin pie left...
Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

While most folks relaxed for Thanksgiving week, the Orlando Solar Bears were quite busy, playing five games in a span of seven days, with four of those on home ice against South Division rival Norfolk.

It was a happy Thanksgiving indeed, as the team won 4 out of 5, and several players were rewarded for their strong play of late, whether with a league honor or a trip to the AHL.

Read on for all the happenings in Central Florida over the past 9 days!

Monday: There were a few changes made to the roster, as Orlando had to reduce their active list from 21 players to 20:

-After making just one appearance in net, goaltender Stefanos Lekkas was traded to Wheeling for future considerations.

-The San Jose Barracuda swapped forwards with the Solar Bears, recalling rookie Steenn Pasichnuk and returning Joseph Garreffa, who made 5 AHL appearances and was scoreless.

Game #13, Tuesday 11/23: Orlando 1, Atlanta 0 (OT)

A busy holiday week began in Georgia on Tuesday, as Orlando made a quick business trip to Atlanta to face the Gladiators.

The first period had no goals, but there were highlights courtesy of goaltender Brad Barone:

The second was the same as the first—no goals, but there were a few highlights. Barone came up big again:

Also, I don’t think Chad Duchesne and Luke Nogard were sharing their favorite Thanksgiving sides.

The scoreless duel continued into the third, as neither team was able to get anything past Barone or Atlanta goaltender Tyler Park. It took just 39 seconds of overtime for rookie Luke Boka to end the scoreless deadlock.

It was definitely a Bones day, as Barone picked up the shutout win with 32 saves. Michael Brodzinski had the lone assist.

Wednesday: Defenseman Montana Onyebuchi was recalled to the San Jose Barracuda for the third time this season.

Game #14, Thursday 11/25: Orlando 3, Norfolk 1

Orlando had an early start to their Thanksgiving Day, hosting the Admirals for the first of four at the Amway Center Thursday morning.

Luke McInnis put Orlando up 1-0 8:10 into the first with his 2nd goal of the season.

Norfolk had a chance to tie the game up early in the second after forward Noah Corson was awarded a penalty shot. However, Orlando goaltender Zach Emond was not in a giving mood.

The Admirals did tie the game up later in the period, as Darien Craighead scored his fifth goal with 12 seconds remaining.

Orlando took over the contest in the final 20 minutes. On the Solar Bears’ second power play of the afternoon, Ian Parker scored his 3rd of the season at the 5:50 mark for a 2-1 lead.

Cole Moberg added his first goal of the season with 3:55 remaining to seal the Solar Bears’ fifth straight home win.

Emond won his first game since returning from the Barracuda, stopping 33 of 34 shots. Brodzinski and Canon Pieper had the lone assists.

Friday: While most everyone was out shopping for gifts, the Solar Bears received two forwards:

-After an extended trip to Syracuse, Tristin Langan was released from his PTO and returned to the Solar Bears. He had one goal and two assists in 8 games for the Crunch.

-Orlando also picked up Conor Landrigan off waivers from South Carolina. Landrigan had originally signed with the Solar Bears but was dealt to the Stingrays in mid-October. He had one goal and one assist in 8 games for South Carolina.

Game #15, Saturday 11/27: Orlando 4, Norfolk 3 (SO)

After an off day, the Solar Bears and Admirals met for game 2 of the 4 game set.

Boka got the Solar Bears on the board in the first, scoring his 4th of the season for a 1-0 lead.

Norfolk rallied for a pair of goals against Barone shortly after that, as Cody Milan (on a power play) and Alex Tonge scored 1:46 apart to take a 2-1 lead. The Admirals added to their lead in the second, as Corson’s 4th at the 17:14 mark put Norfolk ahead 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Orlando made a comeback in the third...or should I say Garreffa singlehandedly did. He got the Solar Bears back to within a goal at the 7:42 mark with his first goal of the season.

As an encore, Garreffa tied the game at 3 with 5:20 remaining in regulation.

The game went into overtime, where the Admirals outshot Orlando 11-4 in 7 minutes, but neither team was able to get the winner. It was on to the shootout, where in the first round Garreffa and Tonge were unable to connect. In round two, both Craighead and Aaron Luchuk were successful in their attempts. On to round three:

With the win, Orlando improved to 6-0 on home ice.

It was another successful Bones Day in net, as Barone stopped 50 of 53 shots for the win. Luchuk added two assists.

Game #16, Sunday 11/28: Norfolk 6, Orlando 1

Less than 24 hours later, the teams got together again for the third game of the set.

Norfolk grabbed a 1-0 lead 2:18 into the contest on a shorthanded goal by Anthony Gagnon. Garreffa responded 1:04 later with his third goal in less than 24 hours to tie the game at 1.

The Admirals took a 2-1 lead with 5:25 to go in the first on a power play goal off the stick of Corson.

Norfolk added to their lead in the second with another shorthanded goal, as a turnover off the stick of Garreffa was used to Cody Milan’s advantage, and he picked up his third goal of the season at the 7:23 mark for a 3-1 lead. Anthony Collins made it a 4-1 game with 4:59 remaining in the period with the first even-strength goal of the afternoon on either side.

The visitors added on to their lead in the final 20 minutes. Blake Murray’s second goal of the season at the 8:46 mark extended Norfolk’s lead to four. Norfolk then picked up their second power play tally of the day, as Nick Schaus made it 6-1 with 5:24 remaining in the contest.

The loss snapped Orlando’s season opening home win streak at 6 games.

Emond finished with 22 saves in defeat.

Monday: With Gabriel Fortier off to Tampa Bay to fill in for the injured Mathieu Joseph, Syracuse signed Luchuk to a PTO. He will be looking to dress for an AHL contest for the first time since the 2019-20 season, where he had a combined 6 appearances for Toronto, Belleville, and Laval, going scoreless.

Game #17, Monday 11/29: Orlando 4, Norfolk 1

The Solar Bears and Admirals finished off their four game set with a rare Monday night matchup.

Parker got the Solar Bears on the board midway through the first, scoring shorthanded for a 1-0 lead.

Norfolk tied the game at 1 at the 12:04 mark of the second on a goal by Blake Murray.

Orlando took over the game in the final 20 minutes, putting up three against Admirals goaltender Dylan Wells. Parker scored his second of the evening on a power play to put the Solar Bears up 2-1.

Pieper added his fourth goal, also on a power play, at the 5:52 mark for a 3-1 lead.

Langan finished off the scoring—and a four point night—with his first goal of the season with 4:48 remaining for the final 4-1 margin.

Barone stopped 35 of 36 shots for his third straight win. McInnis added two assists.

Tuesday: For his 3-0 performance this week, Barone was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week. It is the first time in his career that he has won this award. Barone is the sixth different Solar Bears goaltender to earn this honor, but he’ll need a few more weeks to catch up to Clint Windsor, who has won this award five times.

Also, Moberg was recalled to the Barracuda for the second time this season, after a 7 game stretch where he had one goal and two assists since returning from San Jose in mid-November.

Upcoming:

Orlando will take on Jacksonville in a mid-week home and home set, visiting the Icemen on Wednesday before returning home on Thursday.