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Solar Bears Den: When the Bones are Good...

A big week for some Syracuse alumni as Orlando takes 3 out of 5 in a busy stretch. And the first playoff position update!

Fernando Medina/Orlando Solar Bears

After a light week to close out February that saw the offense dry up, the Orlando Solar Bears kicked off a busy March with a five-games-in-seven-days stretch, including the start of a 6-game road trip through two cities.

The team was able to find their way back onto the scoresheet, as the two newest members of the Solar Bears got their first goals, while a former Syracuse Crunch teammate set some career records. And nearly every day was, of course, a Bones day.

Game #50, Tuesday 3/1: Greenville 3, Orlando 2 (OT)

A busy week began bright and early on Tuesday, as the Solar Bears and Swamp Rabbits finished off their two-game set with a school day special 10:30 AM start.

After being shut out for 186 minutes and 18 seconds, Orlando finally found the back of the net, as Maxim Cajkovic scored his first ECHL goal 4:45 into the contest for a 1-0 lead.

Greenville scored the next two unanswered, first tying the game at 1 with 8:03 remaining in off a power play goal by Max Zimmer. Brett Kemp put the Swamp Rabbits ahead 2-1 with 2:55 remaining in the second.

Orlando tied the game at 2 with 9:42 remaining in regulation, as Tristin Langan scored his 10th goal of the season.

With the goal, Langan is now the Solar Bears’ all-time leader in points with 131.

Brad Barone made sure this one headed to overtime:

However, the Swamp Rabbits got the last laugh in the extra frame, as Kemp’s second of the day with 90 seconds left gave the visitors the extra point and a sweep of the two-game series.

Barone stopped 38 of 41 shots in the overtime loss. Three Orlando skaters had one assist each.

Game #51, Wednesday 3/2: Orlando 1, Jacksonville 0

Orlando hit the road on Wednesday, with the first stop in Jacksonville to visit the Icemen.

This one was all about the goaltending, as Barone dueled with Icemen goaltender Francois Brassard.

After a scoreless first, Orlando tried to get on the board early in the second, but were denied by Brassard:

Not to be outdone, Barone had a few robberies of his own too.

The scoreless deadlock continued into the third, where Barone continued his personal highlight reel.

Finally, with 9:01 remaining in regulation, Shawn Element gave the Solar Bears a 1-0 lead with his first ECHL goal.

Meanwhile, Barone continued to be a brick wall in the net, finishing off his third shutout of the season with a flourish.

Barone finished with 28 saves for his 19th win. Luke McInnis and Steven Oleksy had the only assists.

Game #52, Friday 3/4: Orlando 4, South Carolina 3

The road trip headed north to Charleston on Friday, as the Solar Bears and Stingrays kicked off a two-game set.

After another scoreless opening frame, the Stingrays took a 1-0 lead 2:39 into the second on a wraparound goal by Jade Miller. Justin Florek made it 2-0 off a rebound in front of Barone 68 seconds later.

Orlando got on the board with 7:59 remaining in the second as Luke Boka scored his 14th on a power play to cut the lead in half. Langan then let a shot go from the circle with 3:07 to go in the period and connected for his 11th of the season for a 2-2 tie.

South Carolina took a 3-2 lead 3:56 into the third off a goal by Ryan Dmowski. Element responded with his second goal in as many games at the 10:01 mark to tie the game at 3.

Cajkovic then scored his second ECHL goal with 5:26 remaining in regulation to put Orlando ahead 4-3.

The Stingrays pulled their goaltender late but were unable to get anything past Barone, giving Orlando their second straight win.

Barone stopped 37 of 40 shots for his league-leading 20th victory. Michael Brodzinski assisted on all four goals, while Odeen Tufto added three helpers.

Game #53, Saturday 3/5: South Carolina 5, Orlando 2

The two teams were at it again less than 24 hours later.

The Stingrays grabbed a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game at the 8:33 mark, as Greg DiTomaso scored his second of the season. Dylan Fitze responded with his 8th of the season with 7:36 to go in the period to tie the game at 1. Florek then added his 16th upon further review with 2:18 left for a 2-1 South Carolina lead.

Karl Boudrias added his second goal of the year at the 9:08 mark of the middle frame to put the Stingrays up by two. With Barone pulled for an extra skater late in the third, Dmowski sent the puck into the empty net with 3:40 remaining for a 4-1 advantage.

However, Orlando was not quite done, as Jake Transit scored with 1:12 remaining to cut the lead to 4-2. The Stingrays then added a second empty net goal from Lawton Courtnall with 5 seconds remaining for the final 5-2 margin.

Barone stopped 21 of 24 shots in defeat. Four skaters had one assist each.

Game #54, Sunday 3/6: Orlando 4, Jacksonville 2

A long week for the Solar Bears ended back in Florida on Sunday afternoon as they paid the Icemen another visit.

After a scoreless first 20 minutes, the Solar Bears jumped onto the scoresheet in the second. Fitze and Tufto (on a power play) scored 28 seconds apart for a 2-0 lead.

Craig Martin cut the Orlando lead in half at the 8:58 mark with a power play goal, his 15th of the season.

Langan restored the Solar Bears’ 2-goal lead 47 seconds into the third with his 12th goal of the season—and tied a franchise record in the process.

Jacksonville thought they had responded quickly with a goal from Brandon Fortunato at the 2:27 mark to cut the lead to 3-2, but it was waved off due to goaltender interference. The Icemen eventually got that second goal just over three minutes later off a shot from Brendan Harris.

Tyler Bird’s 14th goal, which leads all Orlando skaters, with the Jacksonville net empty with 47 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Solar Bears.

Barone stopped 23 of 25 shots for win #21. Brodzinski added two assists.

Kelly Cup Playoff Update:

Now that we have entered March, it’s time to take a look at the South Division standings as the regular season’s end comes closer. After Sunday’s action, here’s where everyone stands:

  1. Atlanta: 55 GP, 34-17-3-1, 72 points, .655 points pct.
  2. Jacksonville: 51 GP, 30-17-2-2, 64 points, .627 pct.
  3. Florida: 56 GP, 31-17-4-4, 70 points, .625 pct.
  4. Orlando: 54 GP, 28-22-4-0, 60 points, .556 pct.
  5. Greenville: 50 GP, 20-23-4-3, 47 points, .470 pct.

As a reminder, the top four teams will be determined by points percentage, due to games being postponed due to COVID that will not be made up.

Upcoming:

Orlando makes another trip to Jacksonville on Wednesday, then they return home to host the Icemen on Thursday. The Solar Bears will then head south to Estero on Saturday to face the Everblades.