The Solar Bears split their weekend series with the Allen Americans.
The games saw the ECHL debut of Kasimir Kaskisuo (KK) for the Solar Bears. They were not stellar outings for KK, but they weren’t terrible either. He still seems to struggle with rebound control, but if the defensemen are well positioned, they can assist in clearing the loose pucks. If not, sometimes it leads to spectacular saves and other times to terrible goals. KK would also be very well served if the Bears lessened the careless turnovers while attempting to break out of their own zone. These turnovers lead to many scoring chances over the weekend. The team did seem to be playing hard in front of KK, which was not always the case last season.
His visit to the team was short, however, as Kaskisuo was recalled by the Marlies and then loaned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.
Scott Wheeler speculated on Twitter that Andrew Nielsen could be sent down to Orlando from the Marlies to get some playing time. This lead me to ask the question, which I initially asked of Tanya Rezak a few years ago, if the Toronto Leadership cares at all about winning here in Orlando, or if we are merely playing time for Marlies prospects. I know I may sound like a broken record, but this question, which I would love to pose to Kyle Dubas, leads me back to last season’s playoffs when then goaltender Ryan Massa was injured in game three of the Florida series.
Kaskisuo had previously been recalled to the Marlies and the injury left Orlando with an unproven net minder for the balance of the series. Florida won out, and eliminated Orlando. If the Leafs would have put KK on a plane south for games four and/or five, would the Bears have advanced to the second round? Even if they had, we would have likely been swept out of the playoffs in the next round, but it would have (could have) been the team’s first playoff series win. I know I need to let that go, but the fan in me isn’t ready to do so yet.
It will be interesting to watch as the season unfolds how Toronto balances the needs of the Marlies vs. the needs of the Solar Bears. In season past, call-ups to Toronto have left the Solar Bears roster depleted and often playing a short bench for games at a time. I understand then coach Anthony Noreen’s philosophy of moving players up to the American League whenever possible. You certainly wouldn’t want to impede a player’s chance to get to the next level. As a Bears’ fan though, I want to see a winning team here, more so than Toronto. Sorry.
The first drafts of this post are where I stated that I felt a bit sorry for Matt Hackett. He signed with Orlando on an ECHL contract to attempt to resurrect his career after injuries sidelined him for most of the last two seasons. I assume that he signed here believing he would be competing for number one goalie playing time, if not being the number one outright.
It was reported this week that Hackett left the team to look for opportunities outside the ECHL. The team suspended him today so they will maintain his rights in the ECHL. Orlando is now looking for a backup to goaltender Cal Heeter, who came off the Injured Reserve List yesterday.
Kristian Pospisil was injured in the first period of the game Sunday against Allen, and Jesse Liebman reported during the broadcast that he had not returned to action. No word yet from Orlando on his status.
From the Rants department, Could someone from Neulion, the ECHL or somewhere please offer some instruction to the teams on providing a watchable product on echl.tv? Neulion was heralded as a leader in sports streaming when the signed on as the provider. I wish they would bring some of their leadership to the fore. Over the weekend, the Home and Away audio feeds were reversed on the game stream. This in itself isn’t terrible egregious. The problem for us in Orlando was the Away play-by-play feed, wherever it was, was trounced by the in arena audio. This wasn’t microphones picking up ambient arena sound. They had the Away feed, and in arena audio mixed in the same channel. The arena feed was so hot that you could hear the PA announcer click his microphone on and off throughout Saturday’s game. The cost of 36 away Solar Bears’ games is two-thirds of the cost of a full season of NHL Center Ice. It should be a better service than it is.
Next up for Orlando are a pair of games against the Atlanta Gladiators Saturday night and Sunday afternoon for opening weekend at the Amway Center.