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Solar Bears Den: Stuck at the Pit Stop

Orlando sees a franchise streak end...and not many goals.

Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

An extended homestand continued for the Orlando Solar Bears this week, but the results were anything but home-ice friendly. The team saw a long win streak end, then they managed to earn a split with an intraconference visitor despite just two goals scored.

Despite that, the Solar Bears managed to hold on to fourth place in the ECHL’s South Division as the homestretch of the regular season is fast approaching.

Game #45, Thursday 2/17: Jacksonville 3, Orlando 2

A 3-in-3 week began on Thursday night, as the Solar Bears welcomed Jacksonville to the Amway Center.

The Icemen got off to a quick start in the first, as Abbott Girduckis and Jake Elmer scored 53 seconds apart midway through for a 2-0 lead.

Tristin Langan cut the Jacksonville lead in half at the 1:37 mark of the second with his 9th goal of the season.

Tyler Bird tied the game at 2 with 3:55 remaining in the period with his 13th goal.

With Luke McInnis in the penalty box, Pavel Vorobei took advantage and scored on the power play with 9:54 remaining in regulation to put Jacksonville ahead by a goal. Despite outshooting the Icemen 10-9, the Solar Bears were unable to get the equalizer.

The win marked the end of quite a streak for Orlando against their in-state rivals:

Brad Barone stopped 29 of 32 shots in defeat. Joseph Garreffa added two assists.

Game #46, Friday 2/18: Indy 4, Orlando 1

Orlando welcomed its final non-South Division opponent of the regular season on Friday evening, starting a 2-game set with the Central Division’s Fuel.

After a scoreless first, the Fuel got to Barone early in the second. Seamus Malone’s 13th goal 43 seconds in put Indy up 1-0. Indy almost made it a 2-0 game but Barone broke out the acrobatics to prevent that from happening:

It was so good you have to see it from a different angle.

The Fuel did eventually add on to their lead in the third, with goals 1:28 apart from Brycen Martin and Jan Mandat—the second on a power play—to put the visitors ahead 3-0. Fabrizio Ricci cut the lead to 2 with 2:33 remaining in the contest with his 4th of the season.

Jared Thomas scored into an empty Orlando net with 1:47 remaining to seal it for the Fuel.

Barone finished with 34 saves on 37 shots. Michael Brodzinski and Dylan Fitze had the lone assists.

Now, you may have noticed that Langan was not in the lineup for this one. He had a good excuse: he was off to Manitoba for his second PTO with the Moose in a month.

Game #47, Saturday 2/19: Orlando 1, Indy 0 (SO)

Just 24 hours later came the rematch on Military Appreciation Night.

There may have been no goals in the first, but it didn’t lack excitement.

Indy thought they were on the board late in the first, but the goal was waved off due to goaltender interference.

The second period saw more scoreless time, but Orlando did come close to getting on the board, if not for that pesky post.

On to the third, where Barone and Fuel goaltender Justin Kapelmaster continued the scoreless deadlock, and...well, this is escalating quickly.

The scoreless duel continued into overtime, where after 65 minutes and a combined 81 shots, nothing was going into the back of the net. It was on to Orlando’s second shootout of the season, where in round 1 Garreffa finally got one past Kapelmaster, while Barone stopped Thomas. Odeen Tufto connected for a goal in round 2, while Barone stopped Darien Craighead, giving the Solar Bears a much needed win.

Barone finished with 41 saves in his second shutout of the season. His 18 wins and 1,829 minutes played lead all ECHL goaltenders, and he ranks second in save percentage and sixth in goals against average. Not bad for a guy who was just supposed to fill the void in Orlando’s net while Syracuse ran through goaltending issues earlier this season.

Roster Move:

Rookie forward Shawn Element was reassigned to Orlando from Syracuse on Sunday afternoon. A free agent signing by the Crunch during the summer, Element has 2 goals and 3 assists in 28 games for Syracuse. He last played on February 12th in Laval.

Upcoming:

A light schedule awaits the Solar Bears this week to close out February. They travel south to Estero on Wednesday to face the Everblades, then they will return home on Sunday afternoon to face Greenville.