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.
Clint Windsor got the nod in net as the Solar Bears kicked off a two-game set with first place Florida on Friday evening.
The latest edition of Bears vs. 'Blades gets underway in a few moments!— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 14, 2021
via @flohockey — https://t.co/g5aLHtwARH
https://t.co/fV1V8amhMz / https://t.co/ov8kK3hE0p
⚡️ @boltsradio#BEARLIEVE | #ORLvsFLA pic.twitter.com/kGdrv91nVc
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.
This Tyler Bird goal though.. pic.twitter.com/H6XKQ3qDwA— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 14, 2021
Just 43 seconds later, Tristin Langan joined the fun with his 23rd of the year for a 3-0 Solar Bears lead.
Goal No. 2️⃣3️⃣ for No. 2️⃣3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/eSbHROIFnK— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 14, 2021
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.
The feed. The finish Repaci nets his 6th of season! pic.twitter.com/0xozBOYT0S— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 15, 2021
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.
Short handed? No problem for Luchuk pic.twitter.com/Unfs93nFES— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 15, 2021
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.
LeBlanc hitting us with textbook dangles before netting an absolute BEAUTY pic.twitter.com/RUjN067PcS— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 15, 2021
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.
You have Auk to be kidding me pic.twitter.com/EjFskwFlaI— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 15, 2021
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.
Luchuk nets his 25th of the season and 2nd of the night pic.twitter.com/kShkOMA9e1— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 15, 2021
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.
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.
Same starters as last night, hoping for the same result— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) May 15, 2021
via @flohockey — https://t.co/g5aLHteZt7
https://t.co/fV1V8a4GnZ / https://t.co/ov8kK302BP#BEARLIEVE | #ORLvsFLA pic.twitter.com/zrvJyz5e8g
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:
- Florida: 60 GP, 37-18-3-2, 79 points, .658 pct
- Greenville: 62 GP, 31-17-11-3, 76 points, .613 pct
- Indy: 58 GP, 31-21-6-0, 68 points, .586 pct
- Orlando: 60 GP, 31-23-5-1, 68 points, .567 pct
- Jacksonville: 60 GP, 30-24-3-3, 66 points, .550 pct
- 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.