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Solar Bears Weekly Check-In: Stuck in Position

Orlando scores 10 goals in 2 days, but splits a weekend set with their old friends the Everblades.

Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

After a less than optimal weekend series that saw them only take 3 out of 6 points, the Orlando Solar Bears got back at it with a light weekend schedule against the first place Florida Everblades, hoping to gain some ground in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race.

With a record setting offensive performance and an almost rally, the Solar Bears again earned a split of their week...but still find themselves hanging on to the fourth seed.

News of the Week:

-Incase you missed Monday’s post...the 2021-2022 first draft schedule is out!

-After his boarding major in Monday’s loss to Greenville, defenseman Luke McInnis was suspended 2 games and fined an undisclosed amount.

-Prior to Friday’s game, forward Krystof Hrabik was recalled to San Jose. The first-year pro had appeared in 23 games for Orlando, with 3 goals and 2 assists.

Game #59, Friday 5/14: Orlando 8, Florida 3

Clint Windsor got the nod in net as the Solar Bears kicked off a two-game set with first place Florida on Friday evening.

This game was all Orlando from the beginning.

The Solar Bears struck for three goals against Everblades goaltender Devin Cooley in the first 20 minutes of the contest. Jerry D’Amigo scored his 9th goal of the season 2:21 after puck drop for a 1-0 lead. Tyler Bird added his 13th goal with 3:50 remaining in the period to double the lead.

Just 43 seconds later, Tristin Langan joined the fun with his 23rd of the year for a 3-0 Solar Bears lead.

The Everblades cut the lead to 3-1 44 seconds into the middle frame on a goal by Cole Sanford. However, the Orlando offensive machine continued on, as 30 seconds later Anthony Repaci restored the three-goal lead with his 6th of the season.

Aaron Luchuk then scored shorthanded just over two minutes later for a 5-1 lead, chasing Cooley out of the net in favor of Jake Hildebrand.

The goalie change didn’t make much of a difference right away, as captain Chris LeBlanc made it a 6-1 game at the 5:59 mark with his 11th goal of the season.

Mark Auk kicked the extra point...er, scored his 6th of the season 5:15 into the third for a commanding 7-1 Solar Bears lead.

Florida cut the lead to 7-2 just over two minutes later on a John McCarron goal. Luchuk responded at the 10:18 mark with his second of the night for a six goal Orlando lead.

Myles Powell scored his 12th with 6:03 remaining to make it an 8-3 game.

Windsor stopped 40 of 43 Florida shots for his 19th win of the season. Langan added three assists for a four-point night. All but four Orlando skaters registered at least one point. The 8 goal outburst tied a home franchise record.

Oh, and Orlando’s social media may be on to something with a 3 Stars Cam.

Game #60, Saturday 5/15: Florida 3, Orlando 2

As the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Orlando went with the same lineup on Saturday as they went for the two-game sweep.

Unlike the night before, it was Florida who would get on the board first. Just 10 seconds into their first power play of the night, Joe Pendenza scored his 16th of the season with 27 seconds remaining in the opening period for a 1-0 Everblades lead.

Cole Sanford doubled the Florida lead 57 seconds into the middle frame with his third of the season. Alex Kile then added his 20th with 2:46 remaining in the period for a 3-0 lead.

Orlando tried to rally late in the third, as Repaci scored with 3:19 to go to cut the deficit to two.

Luchuk made it a one goal game with just four seconds remaining in regulation, but it was too little too late, and the Solar Bears remained in fourth place in the Eastern Conference after getting the split of the two-game set.

Windsor finished with 28 saves on 31 shots. D’Amigo added two assists.

Kelly Cup Playoff Seedings Update

Through the end of Sunday’s games, here’s how the Eastern Conference playoff picture is looking:

  1. Florida: 60 GP, 37-18-3-2, 79 points, .658 pct
  2. Greenville: 62 GP, 31-17-11-3, 76 points, .613 pct
  3. Indy: 58 GP, 31-21-6-0, 68 points, .586 pct
  4. Orlando: 60 GP, 31-23-5-1, 68 points, .567 pct
  5. Jacksonville: 60 GP, 30-24-3-3, 66 points, .550 pct
  6. South Carolina: 61 GP, 27-21-10-3, 67 points, .549 pct

While Florida looks to have a grip on first place, the bottom of the playoff bracket is quite the race, with two points and games in hand separating teams 3-6.

This Week’s Schedule:

A very important, yet busy week is on tap for the Solar Bears. Orlando heads to Jacksonville on Tuesday night, then return home to host South Carolina in a 3 game weekend set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. If the team wants to stay in the playoff race, every point is crucial.