After a 7-5-0-1 March, the Orlando Solar Bears began the month of April in a bit of a slump, dropping their last two games to conference rival South Carolina.The team returned to the friendly confines of the Amway Center this week to host Florida, who is by far the best team in the ECHL and a team the Solar Bears have faced 18 times already this season, with some success.
This week unfortunately did not go as planned, as Orlando managed just one win out of three games—and by mere percentage points, they now find themselves barely outside of the East playoff picture.
-Prior to Thursday’s game, defenseman Nolan Valleau was named the AMI Graphics ECHL Plus Performer of the Month for March. In 12 games for the month, Valleau posted a +11 rating, leading all ECHL skaters. For the season, he is a +10 in 24 games.
Game #40, 4/1: Florida 3, Orlando 2
Clint Windsor got the nod on April Fools Day for the first of three against the Everblades.
Puck drop for the first of three games this week against the Everblades is just a few minutes away!— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 1, 2021
via @flohockey — https://t.co/g5aLHteZt7
https://t.co/fV1V8a4GnZ / https://t.co/ov8kK302BP#BEARLIEVE | #ORLvsFLA pic.twitter.com/inPHlPFoyC
Kevin Lohan got the Solar Bears on the board late in the first with his first goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.
Kevin Lohan drives wide, cuts to the net and tucks home his first of the season! pic.twitter.com/IpN26luOkQ— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 1, 2021
Just thirty-two seconds into the middle frame, Tristin Langan scored his 13th of the season to double the Orlando lead. Florida cut the lead in half at the 3:56 mark on a goal by Matt Petgrave. Colby Sissons followed with his fourth goal shorthanded at the 10:07 mark to tie the game up at 2. The Everblades finished up the comeback with 4:44 to go in the second as Stefan Leblanc scored for a 3-2 lead. Orlando could only manage six shots on goal in the final twnety minutes and could not get the tying goal, and their losing streak reached three games.
Clint Windsor took the loss in net, stopping 28 of 31 shots. Four skaters had one assist each.
Game #41, 4/2: Florida 3, Orlando 2
Michael Lackey got his first start since returning from the AHL in game #2 of the series.
Let's do this!— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 2, 2021
via @flohockey — https://t.co/g5aLHtwARH
https://t.co/fV1V8amhMz / https://t.co/ov8kK3hE0p#BEARLIEVE | #ORLvsFLA pic.twitter.com/4ea9w8wlKC
After an uneventful first, the Everblades grabbed the lead during the first half of the second. Marcus Vela’s third of the season at the 2:33 mark got Florida on the board. Hugo Roy doubled the advantage at the 8:41 mark with his 6th of the year. J.J. Piccinich cut the Florida lead in half at the 10:49 mark with his 7th goal of the season.
J.J. Piccinich gets us on the board! pic.twitter.com/IurjP8SYVW— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 3, 2021
Michael Huntebrinker then scored his league leading 23rd goal of the season with 6:53 remaining in the period to restore Florida’s two goal advantage.
Tyler Bird got the Solar Bears back to within one at the 2:09 mark of the third with a shorthanded tally, his 9th of the season.
Shorty for pic.twitter.com/UMRHJ1PRiF— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 3, 2021
Despite outshooting the Everblades 40-27, Orlando could not get anything further past Florida rookie netminder Jordan Papirny, who got the win in his professional debut. Lackey played well in defeat, stopping 24 of 27 shots. Florida also pulled off a rare feat, as they did not assess a single penalty in the contest. Orlando had just four penalty minutes and killed off both Florida power plays.
Game #42, 4/3: Orlando 4, Florida 2
Orlando looked to avoid the sweep on Hockey Fights Cancer night on Saturday.
Almost time to drop the puck!— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 3, 2021
via @flohockey — https://t.co/g5aLHtwARH
https://t.co/fV1V8amhMz / https://t.co/ov8kK3hE0p#BEARLIEVE | #ORLvsFLA#OSBFightsCancer | @XymoPrint pic.twitter.com/Elv9D8IMKh
Similar to the night before, the teams were scoreless in the opening twenty minutes, then the offense came alive in the second on both sides. Sissons opened the scoring on a power play 1:15 into the period for a 1-0 Everblades lead. Fabrizio Ricci picked up his first Solar Bears goal at the 7:28 mark to tie it at 1.
Fabrizio Ricci puts home his first with the Solar Bears! pic.twitter.com/cfxxmKiF7r— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 4, 2021
Aaron Luchuk then gave Orlando their first lead of the night with his 13th goal on a power play with 5:58 remaining in the period.
Aaron Luchuk's power-play goal was his 13th of the season, and he becomes the first on the team to reach the 40-point mark this season! pic.twitter.com/SuVa7GbRj5— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 4, 2021
The lead lasted all of 2:21, as Levko Koper tied the game up at 2 apiece.
Captain Chris LeBlanc gave Orlando the lead back with 8:12 to go in regulation with his 7th of the season.
The Captain™️ strikes to give us a 3-2 lead! pic.twitter.com/01P0rBL8Xa— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) April 4, 2021
Langan then grabbed the empty netter with 2:06 remaining to seal the victory and end Orlando’s four game skid.
Windsor stopped 26 of 28 shots for his 11th win of the season. Anthony Repaci added two assists.
This Week’s Schedule:
Orlando takes on Greenville in 4 games: Tuesday and Thursday on home ice, then in Greenville Saturday and Sunday.