After a week that saw them get outscored by a 14-7 margin, the Orlando Solar Bears got back at it with three opportunities to get back in the win column, including their first match-up not in the South Division.
One exciting finish and one schedule change later, the team rebounded nicely with 2 out of 3 victories. Read on for the week that was...
It was an early wake-up call to start the week, as the Solar Bears hosted their annual school day contest with a 10:30 AM start against their friends to the south, the Everblades.
After a scoreless first, the kids in attendance learned about executing on a power play in the second. On Orlando’s second man advantage of the game, Matthew Barnaby scored his first Solar Bears tally for a 1-0 lead.
Putting your Bears in the lead!! pic.twitter.com/n19QT0JHpy— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) November 8, 2022
The kids also learned how not to solve conflicts courtesy of a pair of fights within 5 and a half minutes. Since it’s Florida, we doubt there were issues like in Portland back in the day...
Back to game action, where early in the third children learned that just because you’re down a man does not mean you’re out. While shorthanded, Andrew Sturtz kept up his strong play of late, scoring his 4th of the season to double the Orlando lead.
Cool, calm, and collected pic.twitter.com/sgI6FfwjCn— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) November 8, 2022
The Everblades found their scoring touch midway through the third, coming back to tie the game at 2 with goals from Robert Calisti and Lukas Kalble 3:26 apart. However, the kids also learned a lesson of resilience, as Sturtz scored his second of the name in dramatic fashion with 32 seconds remaining in regulation to pull out a Solar Bears win.
Jack LaFontaine picked up the win in net, stopping 30 of 32 shots. Sturtz and five others picked up assists.
With Hurricane Nicole expected to hit the east side of Florida, Orlando announced on Wednesday their Thursday night match-up with Atlanta would be postponed to a later date.
However, the team did get another contest to take its place. After travel issues prevented Trois-Rivieres, Jacksonville’s opponent for Friday, to arrive on time, the ECHL announced that the Solar Bears would be the replacement opponent against the Icemen.
Dureau Joins the Solar Bears
Prior to Friday’s game, forward Jaydon Dureau was reassigned from Syracuse to Orlando. The rookie had appeared in seven games with one assist for the Crunch.
So how would Orlando respond with a schedule switch from a home game to another road match-up with the Icemen?
It did not take long for the visitors to get on the board, as Steven Oleksy scored his first of the season 3:20 in for a 1-0 lead.
Another first goal of the season came from Orlando in the second, as it was Tristin Langan’s turn to finally get in the goal column.
Jacksonville cut the lead in half as time expired in the second on a Victor Hadfield goal.
Orlando restored their two-goal lead early in the third, as Barnaby scored for the second straight game. And we’ll agree with Orlando social regarding the celebration.
Oleksy added to the Orlando lead with his second goal of the night 6:56 into the third.
When a pass somehow turns into a goal pic.twitter.com/lpUpCoORc5— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) November 12, 2022
Ara Nazarian cut the lead to 4-2 for Jacksonville with 6;15 remaining, but an empty net goal from Brayden Guy with 57 seconds remaining would seal the Solar Bears’ second straight win.
Guy scores an empty netter! Dare we say...— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) November 12, 2022
That's our Guy pic.twitter.com/9WzTowcwgt
LaFontaine stopped 35 of 37 Icemen shots for his second straight win. Luke Boka added two assists.
The Solar Bears returned home on Sunday afternoon looking for a sweep of the week against their first opponent outside the South this season, the North Division’s Trois-Rivieres Lions, featuring former Syracuse defenseman Mathieu Brodeur on the roster.
For Military Appreciation Day, the team sported some fancy red, white and blue threads.
Sneak peek of tomorrow’s threads pic.twitter.com/dVim52oRq6— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) November 12, 2022
Less than 5 minutes into the contest—and on their second power play chance—Barnaby connected for his third goal of the season for a 1-0 Solar Bears lead. That goal prompted an early exit for Lions goaltender Phillipe Desrosiers due to injury. Joe Vrbetic would enter the game in relief, and that switch may have changed the momentum for the visitors from Quebec.
The Lions found their way onto the scoresheet in the second with a pair of goals 4:58 apart from Colin Bilek and Anthony Beauregard to take a 2-1 lead.
Vrbetic took care of the rest, shutting down Orlando’s offense the rest of the way in stopping all 19 shots faced.
LaFontaine deserved a much better fate, taking the loss despite 34 saves. Dureau picked up his first ECHL point with an assist.
Orlando will host South Carolina on Tuesday to complete a two-game homestand. The team will then hit the road for the weekend, starting with their first-ever visit to Savannah on Friday, then on to South Carolina for a pair of games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.