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Solar Bears Den: Viral Donuts

Orlando’s scoreless drought continues in a pair of losses. Oh, and they signed a former NHL pest for two days.

It was that kind of week.
Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

So, you may have noticed that the Orlando Solar Bears made some news in the middle of the week, as they had a light schedule to close out February.

Sadly, it did not overshadow the fact that the offense has gone into a major slump, having gone scoreless in their last three games, including back-to-back losses this week.

Read on for the latest:

Tuesday: Defenseman Nolan Valleau returned to the Solar Bears blueline after Stockton released him from his PTO. He appeared in 4 games for the Heat, going scoreless.

Wednesday: Before Wednesday’s game, the Solar Bears signed a former NHL forward:

In a signing that may have screamed publicity stunt, there was another reason why the former NHL pest and Dancing With the Stars participant wanted to attempt a comeback after 10 years away—fatherhood. He talked about it after his first practice:

“Since then, I’m a dad, and I took my son Nash skating,” Avery said of his firstborn, Nash Hollis Avery, born on July 28, 2020. “So I had a pair of new skates, and I thought, ’I feel pretty good,’ so I got equipment, and I started skating, somehow I ended up in the great state of Florida and it’s a beautiful thing. These guys are being great, and they’re letting me see if I can get in shape and we’ll see what happens.”

The visit lasted just two days, as he was released by the team on Friday.

Game #48, Wednesday 2/23: Florida 6, Orlando 0

Without their newest acquisition, Orlando headed south to Estero on Wednesday evening to visit the Everblades.

This game was all Everblades from the start.

Jake Jaremko opened the scoring for the home team exactly five minutes after puck drop with his 11th goal of the season. Michael Neville’s 2nd with 5:06 remaining in the first doubled the Florida lead.

The Everblades continued the offensive onslaught with three more in the second. Neville scored his second of the game at the 3:50 mark for a 3-0 lead. Kyle Neuber made it 4-0 at the 6:24 mark, which ended Brad Barone’s 13th straight start early, as he was pulled in favor of Bailey Brkin, making his Solar Bears debut. The change in net did not help, as Florida made it 5-0 with 7:58 to go in the second on Kody McDonald’s 4th of the season.

Dylan Vander Esch made it 6-0 with 1:14 remaining. Meanwhile, Orlando managed 26 shots on goal, but none made it past Everblades goaltender Parker Gahagen, who picked up his third shutout of the season.

Barone took the loss, stopping 17 of 21 in 26+ minutes while Brkin stopped 14 of 16 in relief.

There also was one more fun fact about this contest, something Orlando has done before:

Thursday: There was a bit of roster movement following Wednesday’s loss:

-Forward Canon Pieper was released. He had four goals and four assists in 24 games.

-After making one appearance, Brkin was also released. Taking his place is rookie Ty Taylor, a 2018 7th round draft selection by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Geo introduced us to Taylor upon being drafted:

“With Ty Taylor, the Lightning have added another big goaltender. He is 6’3” and 201 pounds. He will turn 19 in July and was passed over in his first shot at the draft. In 2016-17, he played the most games with the Vernon Vipers in net, but was out played by Darion Hanson who had a .945 SV% in 21 games and was their starter in the playoffs. Taylor put up a .908 SV% and 2.96 GAA in 29 games.”

“2017-18 though saw Hanson moving on, and Taylor becoming the 1A goaltender for the Vipers. He posted a .941 SV% and 1.87 GAA in 31 games. He also played in 10 playoff games with a .929 SV%. Together with his partner, the Vipers became the stingiest team in the league only allowing 118 goals, 20 goals less than the next closest team in that stat. His impressive improvement is likely what caught the eye of the Lightning’s scouting staff.”

Fast forward four years, where Taylor joins the Solar Bears after appearing in 13 games for Grant MacEwan College of the CWUAA, where he went 1-11-0 with a 4.16 GAA and .890 save percentage. Prior to that, he played three seasons with the University of New Hampshire, where he appeared in a combined 21 games and posted an 8-7-1 record.

-With Andrej Sustr back up with the Lightning, defenseman Dmitry Semykin was recalled to Syracuse.

Saturday: Orlando gained some much needed help for the offense, as Tristin Langan returned from his second PTO with Manitoba.

Game #49, Sunday 2/27: Greenville 5, Orlando 0

It was back on home ice on Sunday afternoon, as Orlando played host to Greenville for the first of two.

Greenville took a 1-0 lead with 5:09 remaining in the opening period, as Brett Kemp scored his 12th of the season off of a scramble in front of Barone’s net. On a questionable shot just behind Barone, the Swamp Rabbits doubled the lead with 1:13 remaining in the first on an Anthony Beauchamp goal.

The Swamp Rabbits took a 3-0 lead with 7:05 to go in the second after the puck just slipped past Barone, with Quin Foreman getting credit for the score. Bryce Reddick then scored on a one-timer on a power play with 5:46 to go to make it 4-0, spelling another early exit for Barone in favor of Taylor’s professional debut.

Greenville added on to their lead midway through the third, making it 5-0 on a goal by Alec Rauhauser. It looked like Luke Boka may have broken the Solar Bears’ scoreless drought with 6:37 remaining, after a shorthanded attempt fell back with Greenville goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick into the net, but the officials called it a no goal.

That was the closest Orlando would get to scoring, as Fitzpatrick went on to stop all 32 Solar Bears shots for his first shutout of the season. Barone finished with 13 saves on 17 shots in 34+ minutes, while Taylor had 8 saves on 9 shots in relief.

Also, if you’re keeping score at home, Orlando has gone scoreless for the last 182:33, with the last regulation goal coming on February 18th against Indy.

Upcoming:

It’s going to be a very busy week for Orlando as the calendar turns to March.

The Solar Bears and Swamp Rabbits will finish up their two-game set with a Tuesday morning school day special. Orlando will then head north to Jacksonville on Wednesday, South Carolina on Friday and Saturday, then back to Jacksonville on Sunday afternoon.