Solar Bears Week in Review: The Regular Season Begins

Orlando releases their season opening roster, then split their first two games.

The ECHL began their 2018-2019 regular season on Friday evening, as 12 teams began their quest for the Kelly Cup.

One day later, the Orlando Solar Bears started their season at home, their first as an official affiliate of the Lightning.

With a roster sporting just five returning skaters from last year’s team—a Solar Bears squad that would bow out against the Florida Everblades in the second round of last season’s Kelly Cup Playoffs—it’s a new beginning in Orlando.

Season Opening Roster

On Thursday, Orlando announced its season opening roster:

Goaltenders: Martin Ouelette, Corbin Boes.

Forwards: Vincent Dunn, Hunter Fejes, Stefan Fournier, Christophe Lalancette, Chris LeBlanc, Colby McAuley, Brent Pedersen, Alexandre Ranger, Alex Schoenborn, Brady Shaw, Ryan Siiro.

Defensemen: Etienne Boutet, Michael Brodzinski, Cody Donaghey, Rob Mann, Myles McGurty, Mike Monfredo, Zach Todd, Nolan Valleau.

Reserve: Trevor Olson, Tayler Thompson.

Injured Reserve: Dylan Fitze, Corey Kalk, Ryan Lough, Tim Shoup.

Opening Night!

10/13: Atlanta 4, Orlando 2

A sold out crowd of just over 9,000 packed the Amway Center on Saturday evening, as the Solar Bears began their season against division rival Atlanta.

After an uneventful first period, all the offense was generated during the second.  The Gladiators jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Matt Lane and Tyler Moy, with the latter goal on a power play.  However, the Solar Bears came back to tie the game up with not one, but two shorthanded goals, all during the same penalty kill.  With Fournier serving a minor for roughing, Shaw and Fejes scored 23 seconds apart for a 2-2 contest.

With 5:15 to go in the period, there was a turning point. Ranger was called for a 5 minute major for boarding, and a scrum ensued between the teams, resulting in a 5 on 3 power play for the Gladiators after Dunn was given a double minor for roughing.  Atlanta took advantage, scoring twice in a 59 second span during that extended advantage, jumping ahead 4-2.

Ouelette took the loss in his Solar Bears debut, stopping 33 of 37 Atlanta shots.  Three skaters added one assist each.

3 Stars:

3. Hunter Fejes (ORL)—1 goal

2. Ben Danford (ATL)—2 assists

1. Olivier Galipeau (ATL)—1 goal, 1 assist

10/15: Orlando 5, South Carolina 4

The homestand continued on Monday night, as the Solar Bears hosted the Stingrays.

1:08 into the contest, McAuley gave Orlando their first lead of the season with his first goal.  The Stingrays tied the game just over four minutes later on a Joey Leach goal.

However, the Solar Bears would break out in the second period, scoring three unanswered against South Carolina goaltender Adam Morrison.  On their second power play of the night, Dunn picked up an unassisted goal for a 2-1 lead.  Pederson then followed with a pair of goals at the 14:19 and 19:00 mark, putting Orlando ahead 4-1 after 40 minutes.

McAuley put the Solar Bears up by four with his second goal of the night 1:55 into the third period.

But, the Stingrays were not about to go away quietly, cutting the lead to 5-3 on goals 1:06 apart by Kevin McKernan and Jake Kamrass.  Grant Besse then cut the Orlando lead to one with a power play goal with 2:21 to go in regulation.  The Solar Bears hung on the rest of the way and picked up win #1 of the season.

Ouelette got the start in net and finished with 32 saves on 36 South Carolina shots.  Five skaters had one assist each.

3 Stars:

3. Alex Schoenborn (ORL)—1 assist

2. Colby McAuley (ORL)—2 goals

1. Brent Pederson (ORL)—2 goals

A Look Ahead

Orlando will finish off a two game home set on Tuesday against the Stingrays.  They will then head north for two weekend games—Jacksonville on Friday and Atlanta on Saturday.