It was another solid week for the Orlando Solar Bears.
Despite losing their newest offensive weapon to the AHL, the team managed to put up a few goals, and thanks to a Super Bowl day rally, they grabbed 4 out of 6 points for the week and stayed in the fourth playoff spot in the ECHL’s South Division.
The week began with a quick business trip north to Jacksonville on Wednesday evening against the first place Icemen.
LINEUP NOTES:— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 9, 2022
➡️ Garreffa will play on the blue line tonight, except for our opening face-off
➡️Pieper off the reserve list; will play
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Orlando took a 1-0 lead with 2:28 remaining in the opening frame as Odeen Tufto scored his third goal of the season on the Solar Bears’ second power play of the night.
The second period was all Solar Bears, as they struck for three goals off of Icemen goaltender Charles Williams. Tye Felhaber scored in his third straight game at the 2:23 mark for a 2-0 Orlando advantage. Joseph Garreffa followed that with his 8th just under three minutes later for a 3-0 lead. Felhaber then came through on a power play with 6:11 remaining in the period, scoring his second of the night for a 4-0 Orlando lead.
The Icemen got on the board 4:44 into the third, as a power play goal by Abbott Girduckis cut the lead to 3. Michael Brodzinski made it a 5-1 game at the 11:48 mark with this gem:
Ara Nazarian added a late power play goal for Jacksonville, but it was too little, too late for the hosts, and Orlando extended their win streak to 3 games.
Brad Barone stopped 26 of 28 shots for his 16th win of the season, tying him for first among all ECHL goaltenders. Tufto and two other skaters had two assists apiece.
Thursday/Friday: A Forward Swap
It was only a matter of time before Felhaber found his way back to the American Hockey League. After a four-game stretch that saw him put up four goals and three assists since arriving from Texas, he was reassigned by the Lightning to Syracuse on Thursday.
About 24 hours later, the Lightning reassigned forward Maxim Cajkovic to the Solar Bears. The 22-year-old rookie has 3 goals and 2 assists in 19 games for the Crunch but had been out of the lineup since January 17th.
It was back home for the weekend, as the Solar Bears hosted Florida for the first of two on Saturday, sporting Loki jerseys for Marvel Night.
Tonight's lineup notes:— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 12, 2022
➡️ Max Cajkovic makes his Solar Bears debut
➡️ Oleksy + Semykin back on the blue line
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Unfortunately, channeling Loki’s powers did not help Orlando in this one.
The Everblades took a 1-0 lead at the 15:47 mark of the first on a John McCarron shorthanded goal over Barone’s shoulder. Orlando tied the game up 2:03 into the second on Tyler Bird’s 11th goal of the season.
What a MARVEL-ous goal pic.twitter.com/SKEDy9QYCA— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 13, 2022
On a slight wraparound, McCarron gave the Everblades the lead at the 6:59 mark with his second goal of the evening.
Orlando was unable to generate any further offense, seeing their modest win streak snapped at 3 games.
Barone stopped 32 of 34 shots in defeat, while Fabrizio Ricci had the lone assist for the Solar Bears.
As a way to kill time before the Super Bowl, the Solar Bears and Everblades got together again for a special 12 noon match.
LINEUP NOTES:— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 13, 2022
➡️ Fejes + Barker return to the lineup
➡️ Garreffa drops back on D
➡️ Lohan skating in 2️⃣0️⃣0️⃣th pro game
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Just like the night before, the visitors were first on the board in the opening frame, as Blake Winiecki scored his 21st of the season for a 1-0 Florida lead.
Tufto tied the game at 1 1:27 into the second with his 4th goal of the season.
Here's another look at the goal by Tufto! pic.twitter.com/mg7Qh0EFYb— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 13, 2022
Winiecki put the Everblades back up by a goal just under two minutes later. Nathan Perkovich then banged in a rebound at the 7:16 mark for a 3-1 Florida lead.
Hunter Fejes, who had returned to the lineup after sitting out the last two due to injury, picked up a power play goal with 5:03 remaining in the period to cut the lead to 3-2.
Here's a replay of the goal from Fejes! pic.twitter.com/lufb2rUy3O— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 13, 2022
Tufto tied the game at 3 just 50 seconds into the third with his second goal of the afternoon.
Fejes gave Orlando a 4-3 lead at the 3:21 mark with his second of the day shorthanded.
Make that ✌️ for Fejes pic.twitter.com/JbXsqXNUDf— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 13, 2022
With Everblades goaltender Tomas Vomacka pulled for the extra skater, McCarron came through in the clutch, tying the game at 4 with 33 seconds remaining in regulation.
It didn’t take long for Orlando to finish out on top in overtime, as Bird scored the game-winner 1:10 into the extra frame for the win, giving the Solar Bears 4 out of 6 points for the week.
Tyler Bird's game-winning goal! pic.twitter.com/dHkkDU9Gq2— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) February 13, 2022
Barone stopped 22 of 26 for the win. Bird added two assists to go with his overtime winner.
Orlando will continue their homestand with a three-in-three, hosting Jacksonville on Thursday and Indy on Friday and Saturday.