When Kyle Dubas came to visit Orlando in June, it was to announce the hiring of coach Anthony Noreen. Noreen is the Leafs-approved successor to the last Solar Bears coach, and along with this announcement of Toronto's involvement in the coaching decision, Dubas indicated that Toronto would increase ties to the ECHL affiliate.
Then came roster moves, some of which reduced potential minor-league depth in favor of a proven NHL player, and some of which made the choice of a starting goaltender for Orlando a little less clear. With the trade of Christopher Gibson, Garret Sparks and Anthony Bibeau are contending for a position with the Marlies, but Orlando is looking for more options in net than ECHL goaltender Rob Madore.
PPP broke news that the Solar Bears had agreed to terms with fifteen players, news that was confirmed by the organization in a press release today. The question remains -- with six slots available (and five as of Nov. 15), which members of the Marlies camp roster will end up with the Solar Bears? Marlies camp began on Sept. 28.
The Solar Bears have already confirmed that two of the goaltenders attending Marlies camp have agreed to terms with Orlando, former Stingrays goaltender Keegan Asmundson, and former Nebraska-Omaha goaltender Ryan Massa. From the press release:
Asmundson, 25, made his professional debut at the end of the 2014-15 season with the South Carolina Stingrays, appearing in three games while posting a 2-1-0 record and one shutout along with a 1.67 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Asmundson also earned an amateur tryout agreement with the AHL's Hershey Bears, although he did not see game action.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound stopper is set to begin his first full pro campaign after completing a three-year career with Canisus College (2012-15). In 45 career games for the Golden Griffins, Asmundson compiled a career record of 18-15-6 with three shutouts, along with a 2.08 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
Massa, 25, begins his professional career after spending the last four seasons with the University of Nebraska-Omaha. In the 2014-15 season, Massa appeared in 29 contests, sporting a 14-8-6 record and two shutouts along with a 1.96 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. Massa capped his collegiate career with UNO by helping the Mavericks reach the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time in the program's history.
In four seasons at UNO, the 6-foot-0, 180-pound goaltender compiled a 32-27-9 record and four shutouts, along with a 2.47 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 75 games.
The full Marlies camp roster includes several former Solar Bears and other ECHL players, notably Brett Findlay, Matt Hatch, Justin Johnson, Ludwig Karlsson, Lindsay Sparks, Brady Vail, Patrick Watling, Eric Baier, Zach Bell, Justin Holl, James Martin, Spencer MacAvoy, Zach McCullough, and Max Nicastro.
With Marlies camp (including goaltender Madore and potentially coach Noreen) leaving for Newfoundland on Sept. 30, and ECHL players available to arrive on Oct. 1, Orlando will not be able to start training camp with a full camp roster until next week at the earliest.
The Solar Bears home opener is on Oct. 17. We'll be watching Marlies camp closely to see who flies south.