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Preview: Solar Bears in Brampton and on

Watch Solar Bears vs. Monarchs free on on Sunday before they head to Brampton!

Solar Bears free on

On Sunday March 6, is having a day of free broadcasts -- and it luckily falls on a day when the Orlando Solar Bears (24-22-3-5) are battling second-in-conference Manchester Monarchs, whom they defeated yesterday. Using the Promo code ECHLFREE2016, create an account here to access tomorrow's 3 PM game. Scope out the Bears in Manchester, and then cheer them on in Brampton!

Solar Bears at Brampton

The Solar Bears are in the GTA the week of Mar. 7. On Tuesday, the Solar Bears, in conjunction with the Montreal Canadiens' affiliate Brampton Beast, will unveil the affiliation jersey that they will use for their games in honor of the long-time rivalry between their affiliated organizations. You can see the Beasts' version of the jersey here at their site.

They will play a three-game series on Thursday, March 10, Friday, March 11, and a matinee on Sunday, March 13.

Species will report on all of the Solar Bears' road games in Brampton for PPP, so look for his coverage next week!


Tuesday, Mar. 8
1 p.m. – Brampton series jersey unveiling and Visit Orlando contest winner announcement

Thursday, Mar. 10
7:15 p.m. – game vs. Brampton Beast at Powerade Centre

Friday, Mar. 11
7:15 p.m. – game vs. Brampton Beast at Powerade Centre

Sunday, Mar. 13
2 p.m. – game vs. Brampton Beast at Powerade Centre

Tickets can be purchased through the Brampton Beast website.

Solar Bears in the home stretch

With 18 more games left in the Solar Bears' season, the team is currently sitting at 56 points, good for 4th in the South Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Bears need to win the majority (at least 12) of their remaining games to make the last wildcard spot for playoffs, and catch up to the Reading Royals and Elmira Jackets, at 7th and 8th in the conference.

Playing against last-place Brampton will hopefully help this push. This week, the Bears are on a roadtrip north to face 2nd in conference Manchester and Brampton, and last night's win hopefully set the tone for the trip. Interesting newcomer D Rory Rawlyk (read his backstory here) scored the game-winner in overtime, helping out hard-working goaltender Rob Madore's 36 saves.

Wins have been tough to come by for a Solar Bears team still finding its footing after the summer's coaching change and a shifting cast of players. The blessing and curse of an affiliation with the Toronto Marlies has been that when a player shines in a stellar performance, he gets neatly scooped up by the big brother league to replace injured or loaned Marlies.

The Maple Leafs provide mentorship and guidance and a career path for players sent down to Orlando, but this affiliation also destabilizes a team badly in need of consistency.  It is excellent for the players, who get a chance to show that they deserve a look in the AHL, but tough for a team that's had to dig deep to find consistent chemistry, under a coach new to a professional league in Anthony Noreen.

Lately the Solar Bears have been signing older players to help mentor young Marlies prospects sent down from Toronto. Rawlyk has the most professional experience at 33, followed by newcomer, D James Martin, 25. Will the Solar Bears find a balance in personnel between prospects newly down from Toronto and veterans who can teach them how to survive a professional game in a rough-hitting league?

Solar Bears currently on a two-way contract to the Toronto Marlies include: D Max Nicastro, D Brenden Miller, F Erik Bradford, F TJ Foster, F Matt Rupert (whose brother Ryan used to be a Solar Bear and a Marlie, but was recently traded to the Binghamton Senators), F Brady Vail, F Jack Rodewald, newcomer Martin, Eric Faille (who is currently with the Marlies on a call-up), and newly returned from LTIR F Patrick Watling. Goaltender Madore is also signed to a two-way contract.

The Bears need to sweep Brampton on the road to help position them for an even harder stretch, five games against the division-leading Florida Everblades and 2nd in division South Carolina Stingrays. This is the home stretch, and the final months of an affiliation that needs to be renewed. Will the best franchise in the ECHL continue its affiliation with the best team in the AHL?

Go represent and cheer them on!

(With thanks to Don Money, the best Solar Bears writer, for help with research.)