After starting 2023 with 7 wins in their first 10 games, the Orlando Solar Bears looked to finish the month of January on a high note, with three games against their friends in the Peach State.
Unfortunately, the offense dried up this weekend for the team, and they could only manage two out of a possible six points.
However, there were some developments on the goaltending front:
Finding Some Spark(s):
On Tuesday, Orlando announced the return of a familiar face to the pipes, signing goaltender Garret Sparks to a standard contract. If you recall, Sparks spent part of the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season in Florida with the Solar Bears, appearing in 6 games with a 4-1-1 mark before being picked up by Stockton for the shortened 2021 AHL campaign. He spent the 2021-22 season in the Kings organization, going 5-5-0 in 12 games for Ontario and two appearances in Los Angeles.
Jack LaFontaine’s six-game AHL sentence was officially finished off this week after the Crunch recalled him on Friday and he served the final two games on Friday and Saturday. He was reassigned to Orlando prior to Sunday’s game.
A week after returning to Syracuse, Tyson Feist was reassigned to the Solar Bears on Saturday. He did not make an appearance in his latest stint with the Crunch.
Thursday, 1/26: Savannah 5, Orlando 2
Orlando finished off their five-game homestand on Thursday with the start of a home-and-home set against the Ghost Pirates.
The crew— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 26, 2023
: https://t.co/mykncF3WNX via @FloHockey pic.twitter.com/QwzpvBkAYG
Savannah was quick to get on the board in the opening period, taking a 1-0 lead just 51 seconds after puck drop. Shawn Szydlowski answered with his 9th goal of the season—and 200th of his professional career—at the 5:25 mark to tie the game at 1-all.
200 looks good on you @Szydlowski19 pic.twitter.com/JN2LvKHvMa— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 27, 2023
Alex Swetikoff put Savannah back ahead by a goal at the 9:09 mark of the first.
Orlando re-tied the game at the 1:26 mark of the second, as Luke Boka scored his third of the season.
Hey, a goal is a goal ♂️ @Lboka12 pic.twitter.com/NkKDFefiKp— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 27, 2023
That was the closest Orlando would get, as the Ghost Pirates scored the next three unanswered. With Dmitry Semykin serving a major penalty for charging, Swetlikoff connected for his second of the evening to put Savannah ahead 3-2.
Sacha Roy’s first goal of the season at the 6:05 mark of the third gave the Ghost Pirates some insurance, then Swetlikoff finished off the hat trick by sending it into an empty net with 15 seconds remaining for the final 5-2 score.
LaFontaine stopped 26 of 30 shots in the loss.
Friday, 1/27: Orlando 3, Savannah 1
The Solar Bears and Ghost Pirates headed north on Interstate 95 to Georgia on Friday to complete the home-and-home set.
The squad tonight!— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 28, 2023
: https://t.co/mykncF4uDv via @FloHockey pic.twitter.com/pLZB4FEIIT
Savannah jumped out to a 1-0 lead 10:09 into the first on a Vincent Marleau goal. Orlando was quick to respond, tying the game at 1 at the 12:08 mark on Ross Olsson’s 14th goal of the season.
Top corner from the captain @rolsson17 pic.twitter.com/7ldpQLtRk4— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 28, 2023
After a scoreless second, Orlando put the game away in the third. Szydlowski became the fourth Solar Bear to break double digits in goals, scoring his 10th with 3:22 remaining in regulation to put the Solar Bears up 2-1.
Perfect shot from Szyd! @Szydlowski19 pic.twitter.com/sb8orMeSVU— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 28, 2023
Tristin Langan finished off the Ghost Pirates with an empty net goal with 1:47 remaining for a 3-1 final.
Jimmy Poreda turned in another outstanding effort, stopping 24 of 25 shots for his fourth win of the season. Tyler Bird added two assists.
Sunday, 1/29: Atlanta 5, Orlando 1
The Solar Bears returned home on Sunday afternoon to finish off January against the Gladiators.
Sunday hockey in full swing!— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 29, 2023
: https://t.co/mykncF3WNX via @FloHockey pic.twitter.com/LYmSGqcDaZ
After a scoreless first, the teams exchanged goals late in the second. Noah Laaouan got the Gladiators on the board with 1:06 remaining in the period with a power play goal. Just as time was expiring in the second, Olsson responded with his 15th to tie things up at 1.
@rolsson17 Beats the buzzer pic.twitter.com/uFiO7aIYpW— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) January 29, 2023
Atlanta took the game over early in the third, scoring twice in the first 55 seconds of the period to jump out to a 3-1 lead. That was the start of a four-goal period for the visitors, as Kaid Oliver made it 4-1 at the 5:03 mark. Michal Mrazik finished the Solar Bears off with an empty net goal with 3:15 remaining for the final 5-1 margin.
LaFontaine stopped 42 of 46 shots in defeat.
Orlando hits the road for a pair to begin the month of February, heading north to Jacksonville on Wednesday, then back to Savannah on Friday. The team then returns to the Amway Center on Saturday to host the Everblades.