ORLANDO, Fla. – While Orlando Solar Bears fans patiently await the announcement of their new affiliate, the team roster has planted some roots. Head Coach and General Manager Drake Berehowsky has taken a balanced approach by bringing back a couple key players from last year’s roster while also adding some new names.
Veteran and team Most Valuable Player, Mike Monfredo, was the first announced signing, and that move secured a solid, stable anchor for the team’s defense. Monfredo quickly became a fan favorite last year with his scrappy play and lead-by-example approach.
On the offensive side, Tayler Thompson is another returning face. In 2016-17, Thompson led the SPHL in points (60 in 58 games) with the Fayetteville Marksmen, and showed some substantial development last year, collecting 11 points (6G, 5A) in 28 games during the 2017-18 campaign. In their signing announcement, Berehowsky remarked that he was impressed by the energy and spark he provided to the team.
Heading up the new faces is rookie goalie Corbin Boes, who has had much experience in college and junior hockey. He played with the Dalhousie University Tigers for a total of four years while maintaining a 28-58-0 record with a 91 percent save percentage. Boes is a durable, even-keeled netminder. He led Canadian universities last year in both saves (866) and minutes played (1,649).
Rounding out the new signings are Ryan Siiro and Corey Kalk. Siiro spent his last season split between the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles and the SPHL’s Peoria Rivermen. Siiro was with the Rivermen as they made it to President’s Cup Finals last season, playing seven playoff games and generating four points (one goal and three assists).
Kalk, meanwhile, is entering his rookie year after playing as an alternate captain for Dartmouth College. Kalk was a key scorer for the team, collecting 21 points in the 34 games he played and tallying 16 penalty minutes.
When questioned as to how he believes Kalk will do in Orlando, head coach Drake Berehowsky stated,
“Corey gives us versatility up front, as he played at both center and on the wing in college. He’s someone who will fit well within our locker room.”
In other news, the Solar Bears bid adieu to associate coach John Snowden, who left Orlando to become the assistant coach of the Newfoundland Growlers. That team is the new ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies, so the move makes perfect sense and gives the Growlers a coach who is familiar both with the ECHL and with the Toronto system. Chris Crane has also departed from Orlando to join his hometown Norfolk Admirals.
As the offseason continues, more pieces will fall into place. Berehowsky demonstrated last year that he is not afraid of making dramatic overhauls of the roster. In 2017-18, Crane and Joe Perry were the only familiar faces that the fans saw on the ice. With Monfredo and Thompson already secured, the Solar Bears will almost assuredly have a more cohesive squad out of the gate in the upcoming season.
Also on tap is the announcement of the Solar Bears new NHL and AHL affiliation agreement. The team is keeping that decision a closely guarded secret, and The Sin Bin will continue to follow those developments closely.
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