Orlando Solar Bears

The Orlando Solar Bears had a really rough start to their season. They had goalie drama; they lost a truly impressive number of games, and they were in the basement of the ECHL with an expansion team and one whose NHL affiliate would fire them mid-season.

It took most of the season for the Bears to claw their way out of that state of affairs. Then it took the final few weeks of the season for them to solidify third place in their division and make the playoffs.

It took them four games to sweep their first round playoff opponent.

That was unexpected, to say the least, but the Solar Bears got the best timed hot streak ever from Cal Heeter, and they have moved on to face their bitterest rival, the Florida Everblades in round two.

Heeter had a .980 save percentage for the first four games.

Up front, they’re are spreading their scoring around. They have three skaters with three points, led by J.J. Piccinich and Hunter Fejes. There’s four players with two points, and a total of 11 different skaters have at least one point in the four games.

Martins Dzierkals is snakebit so far, but he’s about to get another crack at it. The young rookies on the Solar Bears are doing well, and they have a chance against Florida, who also swept their first round series. The first game of the best of seven series is tonight at 7:30. Go Solar Bears!

No "I" in Solar Bears in preparation for Everblades | Pro Hockey News
Last week, the Solar Bears finished off a four-game sweep of the South Carolina in the South division semifinals of the 2018 ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs with a total team effort that included eshewing the tradition of individual players coming onto the ice during pre-game introductions. Instead they came out as a group, showing a unity that they will need to draw on again when they face the Florida Everblades in the division finals starting Friday night in Estero.

Toronto Marlies

The Marlies also play tonight in Game Four of their best of five series to open the AHL playoffs. They beat the Utica Comets twice at home, and lost in Game Three on the road. Game Four is also in Utica, and starts at 7:30 p.m.

You can watch that game in the GTA on Leafs Nation Network (formerly Leafs TV) or streaming (with a paid account) on AHL Live.

If necessary, the final game of that series will be Sunday at 4 p.m. in Toronto.

Toronto Marlies win Game 1 over Utica in overtime thriller
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Three Maple Leafs could be back at playoff hockey as early as Friday


We don’t know for sure if they will travel to Utica for tonight’s game, however.