After a rough trip to Georgia the weekend before, it was back to work for the Orlando Solar Bears this week, with three more divisional match-ups on the agenda, including two trips south to Estero.
Despite losing one of their leading scorers on a recall to the AHL, the team rebounded nicely with a pair of much-needed victories. Also, there was a chance of flying furry friends this week in two Sunshine State cities.
Two non-Syracuse/Tampa roster moves were made this week that shook up the Solar Bears’ offense:
-Leading goal scorer Joe Carroll was signed to a PTO by Belleville on Friday, where he will join fellow Bear Jack Dougherty.
-Forward Karl El-Mir was dealt to Trois Rivieres for the ever popular future considerations.
The first of two trips to Estero came on Wednesday evening.
It took 20 seconds for the visitors to take an early lead, as Jaydon Dureau scored his second goal of the season on a nice 2-on-1 breakaway.
Florida tied the game at 1 at the 3:41 mark off a Nick Lappin goal, only to fall back behind Orlando 2-1 on Carroll’s 9th goal of the season on a power play.
Florida went on to score the next three tallies unanswered. Jake Smith tied the game at 2 with 3:23 remaining in the opening period on a power play. Brandon Hickey and Cam Morrison added goals in the second to put the Everblades up 4-2 going into the final 20 minutes.
Tyler Bird tried to rally the Solar Bears with a goal 1:17 into the third to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Nice tip by Tyler Bird for his fifth goal of the season. 4-3 FLA. pic.twitter.com/qBDjpMtsT5— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 15, 2022
Less than a minute later, Blake Winiecki gave the Everblades an insurance goal and a 5-3 lead. That goal would prove to be important because with 2:22 remaining in regulation Bennett MacArthur scored his first ECHL goal to cut the lead to 5-4.
Orlando was unable to get the equalizer at the end, and their losing streak reached four games.
Brad Barone stopped 17 of 22 shots in the loss. Carroll and 6 other skaters added assists.
Orlando returned to the Amway Center for the first time since December 1st as they hosted the Ghost Pirates.
The team sported their annual Christmas jerseys, with this year’s theme the ugly sweater.
It was also the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss, which begs the question: Which Solar Bear has the best tossing arm?
On to the game itself, where the Solar Bears found themselves in a 1-0 hole 6:39 into the game on a power play goal by former Solar Bear and Crunch defenseman Nolan Valleau. However, midway through the first, the fur began to fly, as Luke Boka scored his second goal of the season—and his second consecutive Teddy Bear Toss goal—to tie the game at 1.
BOKA DOES IT AGAIN!! pic.twitter.com/rSbphnSyez— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 17, 2022
Here’s the overhead view of flying stuffed animals.
Once the ice was cleared, the Ghost Pirates got to work, taking a 2-1 lead on a power play goal by Brandon Estes midway through the second. A Spencer Dorowicz tally 4:32 into the third gave Savannah a two-goal cushion. Orlando began to rally just over a minute later as a Maxim Cajkovic goal cut the lead to 3-2.
Shawn Szydlowski then scored his 6th of the season on a nice play in front of the Savannah net to tie the game at 3 with 7:19 remaining in regulation.
It was on to overtime, where Orlando completed their comeback. Tristin Langan snagged the puck and passed it to Chris Harpur, who sent it over to Brayden Guy for the game-winner for a big Solar Bears win.
Barone stopped 34 of 37 shots for the win. In a balanced offensive attack, 11 skaters registered at least one point.
It was back on the road to Estero on Saturday, as Orlando looked to avenge their loss on Wednesday night.
Orlando came out flying in the first 5:32 of the game with three goals against Everblades goaltender Cam Johnson. Chris Ordoobadi scored on a power play 2:22 into the contest for a 1-0 lead.
Guy doubled the lead at the 4:29 mark with a power play goal of his own.
Langan made it 3-0 at the 5:32 mark with—yup, you guessed it—a power play goal.
Orlando extended their lead to four on a non-power play goal from Bird.
Bird scores his sixth goal of the season pic.twitter.com/ZZcf31TH5k— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) December 18, 2022
In the spirit of holiday giving, Orlando let the Everblades have their own Teddy Bear Toss moment, as Lappin made the fur fly in Estero at the 12:09 mark to cut the lead to 4-1.
TOSS THE TEDDY BEARS!!! #28 Nick Lappin with the GOAL!!— Florida Everblades (@FL_Everblades) December 18, 2022
Assisted by #22 Joe Pendenza and #49 Lukas Käble pic.twitter.com/mCdSN3dUkl
Ross Olsson finished off Orlando’s second straight win with—gasp!—another power play goal, this one coming with 9:13 remaining in the game, for a 5-1 advantage.
Barone stopped 36 of 37 shots for his fourth win. Three skaters had two assists each.
It’s going to be a busy week for the Solar Bears leading into Christmas weekend.
Orlando will visit the Everblades for the third time in a week on Wednesday, then return home briefly on Thursday to host Jacksonville, then head north to Savannah on Friday.