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Solar Bears Den: Hello, New Guy

A trade between Tampa Bay and Dallas works out dividends for Orlando.

Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

Coming off a split with Utah to end January, the Orlando Solar Bears kicked off the month of February with a three-game set against their friends to the south, the Florida Everblades.

It took two comebacks, but the team took 2 out of 3 from Florida and held on to fourth place in the ECHL’s South Division. However, what may have looked like a minuscule transaction to a Lightning fan turned into a payoff for the Solar Bears.

Tuesday: In case you missed it, on Tuesday Tampa Bay made a pair of one-for-one deals, sending former Solar Bear Jimmy Huntington to Nashville for forward Anthony Richard, and current Solar Bear Andrey Lipanov was dealt to Dallas for forward Tye Felhaber, who was assigned to Orlando.

Felhaber has spent this season with Texas of the AHL, where he had two goals in 14 games. He has previous ECHL experience with Idaho, appearing in 6 games during the 2019-20 season with 3 goals and 3 assists.

Game #39, Thursday 2/3: Florida 4, Orlando 1

The Solar Bears and Everblades kicked off their 3-game set in Orlando on Thursday night.

Felhaber did not waste time making an impact in his Solar Bears debut, assisting on an Odeen Tufto goal 3:22 into the contest for a 1-0 Orlando lead.

Florida tied the game at 1 with 1:23 remaining in the first on a goal by Russell Jordan, his first of the season. Current ECHL leading scorer Blake Winiecki then put the visitors ahead by a goal with 3:33 remaining in the second with his 20th goal of the season.

The Solar Bears had a chance to tie the game up with a 1:30 5 on 3 power play early in the third but were unable to capitalize. With Fabrizio Ricci serving a double minor after a skirmish by the benches and Michael Brodzinski sitting for a delay of game call, John McCarron took advantage of the extended power play time and put the Everblades up 3-1 at the 8:48 mark with his 17th of the season. He would later add his second goal via the empty Orlando net with 2:25 remaining in regulation to seal the win.

Barone stopped 20 of 23 shots in the loss. Orlando outshot the Everblades 35-13 over the last 40 minutes of the contest but were unable to create any further offense.

Game #40, Friday 2/4: Orlando 4, Florida 2

Just 24 hours later, it was back to the Amway Center for round 2.

Ricci got things going in a hurry, scoring his third of the season 33 seconds after puck drop for a 1-0 lead.

Florida responded with a pair of goals on Barone—a Joe Pendenza goal at the 3:40 mark to tie the game at 1, followed by a goal from Alex Aleardi 95 seconds later.

Felhaber notched his first Solar Bears goal at the 5:55 mark of the second to tie the game at 2.

Steven Oleksy gave Orlando a 3-2 lead with 6:46 to go in the second with his first Orlando goal and third overall.

Luke Boka gave the Bears a little breathing room 18 seconds into the third with his 11th goal of the season for a 4-2 advantage.

Barone did the rest, stopping all 16 Florida shots in the final 20 minutes, including:

Tufto and Garreffa had two assists apiece. Barone finished with 35 saves on 37 shots for his 14th win of the season.

Game #41, Saturday 2/5: Orlando 3, Florida 2

The scene shifted to Estero on Saturday for the rubber game of the 3-game set.

After a scoreless opening frame, the Everblades got on the board against Barone in the second, as a Levko Koper goal at the 12:05 mark put the hosts up 1-0.

Orlando got on the board in a hurry in the third, as Boka scored his 12th 34 seconds in to tie things up at 1. Felhaber continued his strong play, scoring in his second straight game at the 2:27 mark to put the Solar Bears up 2-1.

Tyler Bird gave Orlando some breathing room with 4:30 to go in regulation with his 10th goal for a 3-1 lead.

Florida made things interesting late with the goaltender pulled for an extra skater, as Pendenza cut the lead to 3-2 with 21 seconds remaining, but Orlando held on in the end, taking two out of three from their Sunshine State rivals on the week.

Another strong performance in net for Barone, who had 28 saves on 30 shots, including this one:


Orlando heads north to Jacksonville on Wednesday to visit the Icemen, then they will return home to host the Everblades in a 2-game set, on Saturday night and a noontime start on Sunday.