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Orlando Solar Bears Weekly Check-In: Sunshine State Rebound

Orlando recovers from a weekend sweep from one Florida team by taking 2 of 3 from the other Florida team.

Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

With this weekend’s slate, the Orlando Solar Bears will officially be through one-third of the regular season. Coming off a rough weekend after being swept by the Florida Everblades, the Solar Bears looked to rebound with a three-game set against their neighbors to the north, the Jacksonville Icemen.

Not only did Orlando pick up five out of six points against their other in-state rivals, a few streaks were extended. Read on for the weekend that was!

Roster Moves:

-With forward Jerry D’Amigo returning from his PTO in Colorado, the Solar Bears released forward Dylan Sadowy on Thursday. Sadowy had two goals and three assists in 11 games.

-With injuries hitting the Syracuse Crunch blueline, Devante Stephens was recalled to the Crunch prior to Friday’s game. Coincidentally, he was the guest on this week’s Bear Tracks podcast. (Author’s note: I highly recommend a listen)

And Stephens didn’t waste any time once in the Syracuse lineup, scoring his first AHL goal Monday afternoon.

Game #24, 2/26: Orlando 3, Jacksonville 2

A busy weekend began on home ice on Friday evening, as the Solar Bears started a three-game set against the Icemen.

After a lost weekend against the Everblades where the Solar Bears only scored five goals in three games, the offense broke out against Icemen goaltender Charles Williams in the opening period, picking up three tallies. D’Amigo made his triumphant return to the lineup with his third of the season as he scored shorthanded 2:11 into the contest for a 1-0 lead.

Exactly four minutes later, the top line struck again, as Jake Coughler scored his team leading 10th goal of the season to double the lead. Coughler then provided a nice assist to J.J. Piccinich’s third of the year with 4:07 remaining in the first for a 3-0 Orlando lead.

Facing a three-goal deficit, Jacksonville slowly began to chip away at Orlando’s lead. A goal by Ara Nazarian 56 seconds into the second got the Icemen on the board. In the third, the Icemen outshot Orlando 17-5, but Derek Lodermeier was the only skater to connect, scoring his third of the season with 6:28 remaining in regulation for the final 3-2 score.

Clint Windsor picked up his fourth win of the season, stopping 25 of 27 shots. Coughler and four other skaters had one assist each. Orlando extended their win streak against the Icemen on home ice to 19 games.

Game #25, 2/27: Jacksonville 3, Orlando 2 (OT)

The series shifted north onto Interstate 95 to Jacksonville for the second game of the weekend set.

For you 90s kids reading this...the Icemen were holding the league’s annual Nickelodeon Night with...Rugrats themed jerseys. Not bad, but this author is holding out for another team to do Ren & Stimpy sweaters like Toledo last season.

Orlando got on the board 12:51 into the opening period on a rare power play goal, as Luchuk connected for his sixth goal of the season.

The Icemen rallied midway through the second, taking a 2-1 lead on goals exactly three minutes apart. But the Solar Bears re-tied the game at 2 with 8:18 left in the second on Langan’s fifth of the season.

The two teams failed to score again through regulation, forcing overtime for the third time in the season series, with Orlando having won the the first two. Third time was the charm for Jacksonville in this case, as a Craig Martin goal 3:28 into the extra frame gave the Icemen the win.

Michael Lackey got the start in net for Orlando and finished with 24 saves on 27 shots. Coughler added two assists.

Game #26, 2/28: Orlando 4, Jacksonville 1

Less than 24 hours later, Orlando looked to take the weekend series and finish the month of February on a high note.

Orlando took a 1-0 lead with 5:57 remaining in the first on D’Amigo’s second goal in three games.

On to the second, where Orlando only managed four shots on goal for the period, compared to Jacksonville’s 16. However, in another example of quality over quantity, one of those Solar Bear shots found their way into the net, as Coughler picked up goal number 11 of the season to double the Orlando lead.

Pascal Aquin broke up Windsor’s shutout bid at the 3:51 mark of the third to cut the Orlando lead in half. The Solar Bears then picked up a power play goal from Coughler at the 7:20 mark to restore the two-goal lead. Coughler was not done, however—he finished off the hat trick with an empty net power play tally with 1:32 remaining in regulation for a 4-1 lead. This marked the first hat trick by a a Solar Bear skater in nearly two years—Colby McAuley pulled off the feat on the road against Newfoundland on March 9, 2019.

Windsor stopped 28 of 29 Jacksonville shots. D’Amigo and Mark Auk each added two assists.

Inside the Numbers:

Let’s appreciate just how well the top line of Coughler, Langan, and Luchuk are doing since they were first grouped together on February 13th in Greenville.

-Coughler now leads all Solar Bear skaters with 13 goals, two behind Indy’s Nic Pierog for first in the ECHL, and ranks second in the league in shooting percentage (31 percent). He is currently on a five-game point streak (7 goals, 3 assists).

-Luchuk leads all Solar Bear skaters—and is tied for sixth in the ECHL—in points with 22 (6 goals, 16 assists). He has picked up at least one point in his last eight games (3 goals, 6 assists).

-Langan ranks second on the team in scoring with 19 points (5 goals, 14 assists). He also has at least one point in his last eight games (2 goals, 10 assists).

This Week’s Schedule:

Orlando begins the March portion of the schedule with a three-game weekend home set against Florida on Friday and Saturday night, and a Sunday matinee.