ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Solar Bears spent their second weekend of 2021 with two matchups against their state rivals, battling the Florida Everblades at home on Friday night while spending the next day in nearby Jacksonville to face the Icemen.
Friday, January 8th vs. Florida Everblades:
The Solar Bears brought their season record against the 2011-12 Kelly Cup Champion Florida Everblades up a notch by getting the best of them in a solid performance on Friday night by a score of 4-3 in regulation time.
Scoring opened up with a deflection off the stick of Ryan Lohin at 6:01 in the opening frame to give Orlando an early lead. Memorial Cup Champion Aaron Luchuk added his second of the season at 11:56, while Peter Abbandonato gave the Solar Bears a three-goal cushion a few minutes later.
Lukas Craggs managed to sneak a rebound past goaltender Clint Windsor in the first few minutes of the second, while Cameron Hebig, who has proved to be a dagger in the heart of Solar Bears, made it a one-goal game. Midway through the period, Peter Abbandonato added his second tally of the game after poking the puck through the five-hole of puck-stopper Devin Cooley, giving Orlando a 4-2 advantage.
The Everblades, who have consistently been a powerhouse in the league for some time, wasn’t going down without swinging. Orlando’s struggles on the powerplay continued as Michael Huntebrinker scored a shorthanded goal; however, that proved to be all, as Orlando held on for a 4-3 victory.
The Everblades outshot the Solar Bears 30-25, while neither team scored on their respective powerplays after combining for eight opportunities.
Unsurprisingly, Peter Abbandonato came home with first star honors with his two-goal performance.
Saturday, January 9th at Jacksonville Icemen:
The Solar Bears headed to Jacksonville for the first time this season to take on the Icemen on Saturday night. A strong second period gave Jacksonville the 4-1 win.
Scoring opened up at 15:23 of the opening period, as former Atlanta Gladiator Joel Messner recorded his first lamplighter of the season, making it 1-0 Jacksonville. This was the only goal in the period.
The second period proved to be shaky for Solar Bears goaltender Clint Windsor, who started in his second game in as many nights. Brendan Warren also scored his first goal of the year, while closer to the end of the frame, Mike Szmatula and Pascal Aquin notched tallies less than a minute apart, making it 4-0 Icemen.
Orlando’s J.J. Piccinich broke Jacksonville’s Eamon McAdam‘s shutout attempt, finding the back of the net at 17:19, mere minutes away from the end of the one-sided contest.
McAdam, who was Saturday’s first star, stopped all but one of Orlando’s season-high 36 attempts on him, while Clint Windsor stopped 12-of-16 and was handed the loss. Michael Lackey, Windsor’s replacement, kept out both of two shot attempts in over 21 minutes of play.
January 5th, added Mark Auk: The Solar Bears claimed defenseman Mark Auk off of waivers from the Rapid City Rush. Auk had recorded five assists in as many games this season with the Rapid City Rush.
January 6th, deleted Paul Meyer: Rookie defenseman Paul Meyer was sent away the day after acquiring Mark Auk. The blueliner was unable to generate much in two appearances with the team, recording a -4.
On January 9th, Dylan Sadowy, a forward who spent last season with the Kalamazoo Wings, decided to opt for the 2020-21 season. While wearing red, white, and blue, he recorded 17 goals and assists each for a total of 34 points, while racking up 62 penalty minutes in 29 games. His statistics earned him a spot in the 2020 ECHL All-Star Classic in Wichita, Kansas.
What’s Next for the Solar Bears?
The Solar Bears will have time to regroup at home before heading back to Jacksonville for a Friday night matchup. Following the Solar Bears’ third meeting with the Icemen this season, Orlando will head home for another pair of games against the Florida Everblades on Saturday and Sunday.
Aiden Foley covers the Orlando Solar Bears for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinSolarBear.