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Solar Bears Den: The Best Gift Isn’t Under the Tree

Orlando gets two wins before the Christmas break...and cancer loses again.

Syndication: The News-Press Amanda Inscore/The News-Press USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida / USA TODAY NETWORK

It was another busy week for the Orlando Solar Bears as they headed into the Christmas break, with another 3 games in 3 days stretch against South Division foes. However, that would not be the story of the week. Sure, the Solar Bears had a good showing in taking two out of three, but there was a bigger victory than anything on-ice.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, the team made a very special announcement:

After a months-long battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma that at one point almost took his life, Hunter Fejes made his return to action official, making his season debut on Thursday at home. We’ll have more on that a little later.

Wednesday, 12/21: Florida 5, Orlando 3

Orlando started their week on-ice in Estero on Wednesday evening, looking for another victory against the Everblades.

The Everblades took a 1-0 lead 6:02 into the contest on a Blake Winiecki goal.

Orlando rallied in the second with a pair of goals against Florida goaltender Cam Johnson. Just off a faceoff, Tyler Bird grabbed the puck, passed to Luke McInnis, then on to Tyson Feist, who scored his first in a Solar Bears sweater 9:47 into the period to tie the game at 1.

Off another pass from Bird, Tristin Langan gave the Solar Bears a 2-1 lead with 2:02 remaining in the period with his 4th goal of the season.

Florida tied the game at 2 late in the period off a power play goal by Kobe Roth.

With Winiecki serving a double minor that carried over into the third, the Solar Bears’ special teams cashed in once again. Ross Olsson put Orlando ahead 3-2 42 seconds into the third with a power play tally, his 8th on the year.

Unfortunately for the Solar Bears, the bottom fell out late in the third, as the Everblades struck for three goals in the final 4:28 of the contest. Roth tied the game at 3 at the 15:32 mark with his second of the game. Jake Smith scored the go-ahead goal on a power play with 1:55 remaining in regulation, then Nolan Kneen sealed it with an empty net goal with 40 seconds remaining to complete the comeback for Florida.

Brad Barone stopped 36 of 40 shots in the loss.

Thursday, 12/22: Orlando 3, Jacksonville 2 (OT)

It was an emotional evening at the Amway Center on Thursday, as Fejes made his triumphant return to the ice in Orlando’s last home game before Christmas.

It was only fitting that Fejes took the ceremonial puck drop with the doctor that helped him win his battle.

The teams exchanged goals in the first 20 minutes of the contest. Grant Mismash got the Bears on the board early with his first Orlando goal for a 1-0 lead.

Luke Martin tied the game for the Icemen at the 11:06 mark of the first with a power play goal.

Jacksonville took a 2-1 lead with 7 seconds remaining in the second off a shorthanded goal from Louka Henault.

The man of the evening played a role in Orlando’s third period rally. After a few near misses, Fejes made a pass to Brayden Guy, who tied the game at 2 with 4:16 remaining in regulation.

The game headed into overtime, where Jacksonville got caught with too many men two minutes into the extra frame. Langan made them pay for not knowing how to count, scoring the game winner at the 3:11 mark to seal an unforgettable evening in Orlando.

In his Solar Bears debut, backup goaltender Jimmy Poreda got the win, stopping 32 of 34 shots. Michael Brodzinski added two assists.

Friday 12/23: Orlando 3, Savannah 1

Orlando headed back on the road for their last pre-Christmas matchup, going back to Georgia to visit the Ghost Pirates.

Savannah took a 1-0 lead with 5:56 remaining in the opening frame off a power play goal from Tristan Thompson.

After a scoreless second, the Solar Bears turned on the offense in the third. Mathieu Foget tied the game at 1 at the 4:19 mark with his fifth goal of the season.

Feist put the Solar Bears ahead 2-1 with 12:19 remaining in regulation with his second goal of the week.

Bird sealed Orlando’s second straight win with a full court..er, ice empty netter with 1:14 remaining for the final 3-1 margin.

Poreda won his second straight start, stopping 22 of 23 shots. Fejes added an assist, while Bird and Feist had multi-point outings.

Upcoming:

Orlando closes out the 2022 portion of their schedule with another three games in three days stretch. They return home on Wednesday to host Savannah, then a home-and-home set with Florida Thursday and Friday.

Also on Thursday: Orlando will host their first ever Underwear Toss. Before you all start Beavis and Butt-head laughing, a disclaimer: IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK.