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Solar Bears Den: First Place Split

Orlando splits a pair with Jacksonville to start December.

Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

After a five-games-in-seven-days stretch last week, the Orlando Solar Bears got a breather as they kicked off the December portion of their schedule, with just a back-to-back weeknight set against in-state rival Jacksonville.

With some additional reinforcements coming down from the AHL, and a recent losing streak by the other in-state rivals the Everblades, the Solar Bears split the week with the Icemen and found themselves atop the ECHL’s South Division.

Roster Moves:

-Before Wednesday’s game, Orlando signed forward Griff Jeszka to a standard contract. The Wisconsin native comes to the Solar Bears by way of the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers, where in 11 games he had 7 goals and 5 assists. He was released along with forward Conor Landrigan on Friday.

-On Thursday, Orlando received forwards Kyle Topping and Steenn Pasichnuk from San Jose, while Syracuse reassigned defenseman Dmitry Semykin to the Solar Bears. Topping had two assists in 8 games for the Barracuda. Pasichnuk made one appearance for San Jose on November 24th, going scoreless. Semykin was scoreless in 8 appearances for the Crunch.

In addition, the team signed defenseman Pavel Vorobei to a standard contract. The 24-year-old will be making his North American debut after spending the 2020-21 season with Podolsk Vityaz of the KHL, where he had a goal and two assists in 25 games.

Game #18, Wednesday 12/1: Jacksonville 5, Orlando 0

The Solar Bears started the month with a quick business trip north on Interstate 95 on Wednesday, paying a visit to the Icemen.

Well, this game was all Jacksonville from start to finish.

Derek Lodermeier kicked off the scoring 13:13 into the opening period with a power play goal for a 1-0 Icemen lead.

Jacksonville went off in the second, scoring three times on Solar Bears goaltender Zach Emond. Jake Elmer doubled the Icemen lead 3:09 into the second with his 4th goal of the season. Craig Martin made it 3-0 at the 9:33 mark with his sixth, then Jacob Panetta added his 2nd with 2:46 remaining in the period for a 4-0 Icemen lead.

Finally, to finish off the scoring, James Sanchez scored his 4th of the season at the 4:25 mark of the third for a commanding 5-0 lead.

Despite having six power plays—and outshooting Jacksonville 23-19—the Solar Bears offense could not get anything past Icemen goaltender Tyler Wall (yes we know, an appropriate name for a goaltender), who picked up his first professional shutout. Emond finished with 14 saves in the loss.

Game #19, Wednesday 12/2: Orlando 4, Jacksonville 1

The Solar Bears looked to quickly rebound a day later, hosting the Icemen at the Amway Center.

This time around, it would be Orlando dominating, as Luke McInnis gave the Solar Bears a 1-0 lead late in the first period.

Semykin made his return to the Orlando lineup in style, scoring his first pro goal 8:20 into the second period for a 2-0 Solar Bears lead.

With 9:17 remaining in the second, another first pro goal, this time off the stick of rookie Brayden Barker, made it 3-0 Orlando.

Jacksonville broke up Brad Barone’s shutout attempt in the third, as a Sanchez power play goal cut the lead to 3-1. Orlando responded with a power play goal of their own, as Barker scored his second of the night with 9:18 remaining for a 4-1 lead.

Barone took care of the rest, stopping 34 of 35 shots for his fourth straight win. Tristin Langan added two assists.

With the win, Orlando is now 23-0-0-0 lifetime against Jacksonville on home ice. Also, with a Florida loss to the expansion Trois-Rivieres Lions, the Solar Bears took over sole possession of first place in the South Division.

Upcoming:

Orlando kicks off a six-game road trip with the first three coming this week: Wednesday in Greenville, Friday in Atlanta, and Saturday in Jacksonville.