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Solar Bears Den: New Year’s Sweep

Orlando takes all three games this week, including a comeback to end 2021.

Feeling (20)22?
Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

After a month that saw callups and protocols wreak havoc with the roster, the Orlando Solar Bears looked to close out the 2021 portion of their schedule on a good note, taking on three of their ECHL South Division rivals.

Despite losing their leading scorer to the AHL, the team was fortunate enough to receive nearly all skaters out on protocols, and took all three matchups, staying within striking distance of their Sunshine State rivals and the division lead.

Weekly Transactions:

-Before Wednesday’s game, the Solar Bears got some good news, as five players—Rich Boyd, Dylan Fitze, Jackson Keane, Ian Parker, and Steenn Pasichnuk—were activated from the Commissioner’s Exempt List. Meanwhile, Aaron Luchuk and Michael Brodzinski were among a handful of ECHL skaters summoned to Hartford on PTO deals.

-On Thursday, goaltender Thomas Sigouin and forward Owen Robinson were released from their contracts, and both will return to their respective schools. Additionally, Pasichnuk was recalled to San Jose, and defenseman Chad Duchesne was activated from the Commissioner’s Exempt List.

Game #28, Wednesday 12/29: Orlando 4, Florida 3

To start the week, the Solar Bears—finally playing with a full lineup—headed south to Estero on Wednesday evening to visit the Everblades.

Florida did not waste time grabbing a lead in the opening period, as an early power play goal by Joe Pendenza 1:21 into the contest put the hosts up 1-0. Orlando tied the game up at the 3:57 mark, as Hunter Fejes scored shorthanded for his first goal of the season.

The Everblades took a 2-1 lead on a Ben Masella goal 6:55 into the second, but Orlando would then score the next three unanswered. Braydon Barker and Robinson scored 3:03 apart late in the period to give the Solar Bears a 3-2 lead.

Fejes gave the Solar Bears some insurance early in the third, scoring his second shorthanded goal of the night for a 4-2 lead.

Pendenza scored his second of the night to cut the lead to 4-3 with 2:01 remaining in regulation, but could not get any closer, and Orlando avenged their shutout loss to the Everblades from Boxing Day.

It was a triumphant return of Bones Day, as Brad Barone returned to the net and picked up right where he left off, stopping 34 of 37 shots for his 8th win. Tristin Langan added two assists.

Game #29, Friday 12/31: Orlando 5, South Carolina 4 (OT)

It was New Bears Eve at the Amway Center on Friday, as the Solar Bears and Stingrays ended 2021 with a noontime start.

The teams exchanged goals in the first period. Fitze put the hosts on the board with 5:16 to go in the opening frame with his first goal of the season.

Ben Holmstrom tied the game for South Carolina with 43 seconds remaining in the period, which became the first of three unanswered goals. The Stingrays took a 3-1 lead early in the second on goals 55 seconds apart from Bryce Martin and Lawton Courtnall. Fejes then cut the lead to 3-2 with 4:26 to go in the period with a power play goal, his third score in two games.

The Stingrays took a 4-2 lead 6:57 into the third on a power play goal by Justin Florek. The Solar Bears then mounted a late rally, cutting the lead to 4-3 with 5:03 to go on Luke McInnis’ fourth goal of the season.

However, in the clutch, it was rookie Luke Boka that took care of business. He scored his 8th goal with 2:35 remaining in regulation to tie the game up at 4.

The game headed into overtime, where Boka finished off the 2021 portion of the schedule on a high note, scoring 1:11 into the extra frame to complete the Orlando comeback win.

Barone stopped 30 of 34 shots for his second straight win. Parker and Langan had two assists each.

Game #30, Saturday 1/1: Orlando 3, Greenville 2

Orlando kicked off 2022 with a trip north to Greenville to visit the Swamp Rabbits.

The teams exchanged goals in the first 20 minutes of the contest. Liam Pecoraro scored his 13th goal of the season 3:34 in for a 1-0 Greenville lead. Fejes continued his hot streak with his fourth goal of the week at the 11:09 mark to tie the game at 1.

Orlando took a 2-1 lead midway through the second on McInnis’s second goal in as many days and fifth of the season.

Fejes struck again midway through the third, scoring his fifth goal of the week at the 9:10 mark for a 3-1 lead.

Greenville was not quite done yet, as they cut the lead to 3-2 with 2:14 remaining in regulation on a Max Zimmer power play goal, but was unable to get any closer, capping off a perfect week for the Solar Bears.

Barone stopped 39 of 41 shots for his third straight win. Langan and Jake Transit added two assists each.

Upcoming:

Orlando will get an extended break, not taking the ice again until January 10th when they host South Carolina.