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Solar Bears Den: No Luck of the Irish

Orlando returns home without a win from their 4-game road trip.

Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

There is one month to go in the ECHL regular season, and the Orlando Solar Bears find themselves stuck in fourth place in the South Division, as the top 3 teams battle it out for positioning.

Unfortunately, the team could not gain any ground on those teams, as their road trip did not go exactly as planned. Despite an 0-3 week, the Solar Bears remained in the fourth and final playoff spot.

Monday: Orlando signed college free agent defenseman Chris Harpur to a standard contract. He comes to the Solar Bears after finishing his graduate season with Niagara, where he had 17 points in 35 games (3 goals, 14 assists) and served as team captain. He is the younger brother of Ben Harpur, currently a defenseman in Nashville.

Game #58, Tuesday 3/15: Atlanta 3, Orlando 2

It was an early start for the Solar Bears on Tuesday morning, as they visited the first place Gladiators for a school day 10 AM puck drop.

Fabrizio Ricci put Orlando on the board with 4:45 remaining in the first period with his 5th goal of the season.

Jake Transit doubled the Solar Bears lead with 5:40 remaining in the middle frame with his 6th of the year.

In what could be considered a defensive collapse for Orlando, Atlanta rallied less than a minute later, tying the game at 2 with a pair of goals 12 seconds apart from Hugo Roy and Sanghoon Shin.

The Gladiators went ahead 3-2 with a power play goal from Kamerin Nault with 3:58 remaining in regulation. Orlando could only manage six shots on goal in the final 20 minutes of the contest.

Brad Barone stopped 32 of 35 shots in defeat. Harpur made his pro debut and picked up his first professional point with a second period assist. Jackson Keane added two helpers.

Thursday: Orlando received defenseman Cole Moberg and forward Timur Ibragimov from San Jose. Moberg started the season with the Solar Bears, then joined the Barracuda in early November, He had 2 goals and 8 assists in 29 appearances for San Jose.

Ibragimov is in his first full season after making his AHL debut during the 2021 AHL Pacific Division playoff. He had one goal and one assist in 23 games this season for San Jose.

Game #59, Friday 3/18: Florida 3, Orlando 0

For the first time since January 22nd, a goaltender not named Brad Barone was starting in net for the Solar Bears, as Amir Miftakhnov got the nod for the first of two in Estero.

It was a scoreless first, but Miftakhnov was not showing any rust.

The Everblades broke up the scoreless tie late in the second, taking a 1-0 lead on a John McCarron goal.

Florida put the game away in the third with a pair of goals. Nathan Perkovich’s 13th of the season at the 5:28 mark doubled the Everblades lead. Alex Aleardi added his 25th with 6:40 remaining for the final margin.

Meanwhile, Orlando was unable to get any of their 23 shots on goal past Florida goaltender Tomas Vomacka, who shut out the Solar Bears for the second time this season.

Miftakhnov stopped 21 of 24 shots in his third ECHL start.

Game #60, Saturday 3/19: Florida 3, Orlando 2

Barone was back between the pipes for Game 2 of the weekend set.

Some franchise history was made in the first period. Tristin Langan scored his 13th goal of the season—and his 54th as a Solar Bear, the most in ECHL Solar Bears history—with 6:54 remaining in the period for a 1-0 lead.

Perkovich spoiled the celebration late in the first, tying the game at 1 with his second goal in as many games and 14th of the season.

McCarron put Florida ahead 2-1 with 21 seconds remaining in the second with his 28th of the year.

In his first game since February 23rd, Hunter Fejes picked up his 10th goal of the season at the 5:56 mark of the third to tie the game at 2. Eleven seconds later, Dylan Vander Esch scored his 13th to put Florida back in the lead.

Orlando scrambled at the end to tie it, but could not get anything past Everblades goaltender Cam Johnson. With the defeat, the Solar Bears went 0-4 for the road trip.

Barone had 18 saves on 21 shots. Two skaters had one assist each.

Kelly Cup Playoff Update:

After Sunday’s action, here is where the South Division stands with four weeks remaining in the regular season:

  1. Atlanta: 61 GP, 38-19-3-1, 80 points, .656 pct.
  2. Florida: 60 GP, 34-17-5-4, 77 points, .642 pct.
  3. Jacksonville: 59 GP, 34-20-3-2, 73 points, .619 pct.
  4. Orlando: 60 GP, 29-27-4-0, 62 points, .517 pct.
  5. Greenville: 58 GP, 26-25-4-3, 59 points, .509 pct.

Upcoming:

Orlando returns home on Thursday to host the Everblades, then Greenville comes in for a pair of games on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.