Orlando returned from the All-Star break with a quick two-game home stand against South Division-leading Florida Everblades on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21.
Orlando earned three points on the weekend, starting with a 3-2 overtime loss to Florida on Saturday night. Chris Crane had two power play goals and J.J. Piccinich and Joe Perry assisted on both Orlando goals. Orlando dug themselves an early hole, giving up a goal less than two minutes into the game and a second goal less than eight minutes later. Crane’s second goal, with 3:41 left in the third period sent the game to overtime, and helped secure a point for the Bears.
We spoke with Crane after the game. “We talk all year…it’s our starts. We can’t go down 2-0 to the best team in the league, and have a really good chance to win. I thought after the start, the team played really well. I think the coaching staff was happy with our game, we just came up short.”
On this being the first game after the all-star break: “Yeah, that’s no excuse. We’re pro hockey players and everybody gets that break. Maybe a little rusty, but we had a couple of practices… We played good, everything was gelling. Like I said, one bounce the other way, we win that hockey game.
On the quick turnaround, playing 15 hours after the completion of Saturday night’s game: “Everyone has to do it. You have to mentally prepare for it. You have to recover, and be ready to play.”
Drake Berehowsky was disappointed with the start Saturday evening. ““It’s really frustrating. I don’t think we had the start that we wanted to, but the guys battled back, and it’s unfortunate at the end what happened. We want to be a team that shows character to be able to battle back. I thought we came out after the first few minutes, I thought we played well. I thought we won the zone time, I know, in the first and the third, the second it was pretty close. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the win.”
Sunday’s matinee saw Orlando defeat Florida 5-3 behind a three point game from J.J. Piccinich (2g-1a). Chris LeBlanc, Hunter Fejes and Joe Perry also scored for Orlando, and Mackenzie Skapski made 36 saves on 39 shots.
In Berehowsky’s post-game comments looking forward to this past weekend’s road trip to South Carolina and Atlanta, on the upcoming road trips to South Carolina and Georgia over the next two weekends: “I think our guys play well on the road, so I’m looking forward to it. It seems like we have a pretty tight knit group, I think they enjoy being on the road”.
On getting back to a .500 record and looking to a long home stand in February: “I think the guys understand the way they have to play to be successful, we just have to have them do it for sixty minutes every night. And that’s the challenge as coaches, we have to convince them to do that, and once they understand it’s the way they have to play, hopefully we’ll have success”.
January 26 - 28
The Solar Bears offense apparently got lost on the way to the North Charleston coliseum this past weekend as Orlando dropped both games to South Carolina by 3-1 and 5-0 scores respectively. Kyle Rankin scored the lone goal with an assist from Darryl Bootland and Sean Zimmerman Friday. Orlando mustered only 20 shots on goal in Friday’s contest. Orlando outshot the Stingrays 38-32 on Saturday in a 5-0 loss.
Sunday afternoon saw the Bears back in action against the Atlanta Gladiators. Orlando shot out to a 3-0 lead in the first period with goals from Chris Crane (Fejes), Josh Winquist (Chris LeBlanc, Joe Perry), and Hunter Fejes (Piccinich). Orlando increased the lead in the second period on a goal by Martins Dzierkals (Winquist, Adam Phillips) then held on as Atlanta mounted a furious comeback for a 4-3 win. Orlando is 8-0 in games where Martins Dzierkals scores a goal.
Orlando’s representative to the ECHL All Star game, Nolan Valleau was released from his PTO with the Toronto Marlies, and reassigned to Orlando. Orlando also announced it had traded forward Todd Skirving to the Utah Grizzlies in exchange for future considerations.
The Solar Bears goalies recently got new Toronto themed masks. Here are some photos of them.
The Solar Bears are currently fourth in their division, and they head back to South Carolina to play the Stingrays on Friday.