After a 1-2-1-0 start, the Orlando Solar Bears hoped to start the month of November on a high note, as they hit the road for a pair of weekend match-ups.
Getting outscored 14-7 was not an ideal way to do that, and after a pair of losses, the team find themselves at the bottom of the ECHL’s South Division.
Transaction of Note: With injuries hitting Syracuse, forward Shawn Element was recalled to the Crunch on Thursday. He made one appearance for the Solar Bears during his brief visit.
The Solar Bears ventured into Georgia on Friday evening to take on the Gladiators for the second time in 6 days.
After a scoreless opening period, Atlanta jumped all over Orlando in the second, outshooting the Solar Bears 21-6 and scoring three times against Jack LaFontaine, all within a 4:59 span.
The Gladiators’ offense did not stop there, as they added on two power play tallies less than a minute apart late in the third after Orlando was called for two separate infractions in 31 seconds.
The Solar Bears found themselves shorthanded for quite a bit in this contest, giving up 10 power play chances to their hosts. Meanwhile, the offense was only able to muster 19 total shots, with no goals to show for it. But they did have a few punches, courtesy of Jimmy Mazza:
LaFontaine finished with 32 saves on 37 shots.
The road trip headed north to Charleston as the Solar Bears and Stingrays faced each other for the first time this season.
It was not a pleasant opening 20 minutes for the boys in purple and orange, as South Carolina put up a 4-spot against LaFontaine.
However, Orlando did manage to find their way onto the scoresheet in the first, courtesy of a power play goal from Andrew Sturtz.
As if the first period wasn’t bad enough for Orlando, it was about to get worse in the middle 20 minutes. Brad Barone took over for LaFontaine in net to start, but that did not make a difference for the Stingrays’ offense.
Rookie Bear Hughes, who had one of the four first-period Stingray goals, completed his first professional hat trick with goals 4:20 apart. So yes, a kid named Bear got a hat trick against the Bears.
Orlando did manage to cut the South Carolina lead to two midway through the period, thanks to goals from Karl El-Mir (shorthanded) and Joe Carroll (on the power play).
First goal as a Bear pic.twitter.com/YM8qj6GSlJ— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) November 6, 2022
South Carolina would then score the next four unanswered, despite LaFontaine returning to the contest late in the second.
The Solar Bears made things quite interesting in the third, pulling to within 9-7 off goals from Tyler Bird (2), Sturtz, and Ross Olsson.
No quit in this group pic.twitter.com/Hh96WNRLol— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) November 6, 2022
LaFontaine stopped 16 of 21 in just over 2 periods' worth of work, while Barone finished with 12 saves. Tristin Langan added two assists.
Orlando returns to the Amway Center later this morning for their annual School Day game, hosting the Everblades at 10:30 AM. In an interesting scheduling quirk for the ECHL, all three Tuesday games on the docket are special morning start times: Worcester will host Norfolk at 10:05, and Jacksonville will face South Carolina at 10:30 AM.
As for the rest of the week, the Solar Bears will host Atlanta on Thursday, then welcome the North Division’s Trois-Rivieres Lions for a Sunday afternoon tilt.