The Orlando Solar Bears have joined hands with the Toronto Maple Leafs from the NHL to become their affiliates. It is hoped that this agreement will go a long way in helping Solar Bears get a solid foothold in the ECHL as they attempt to make their mark on the league in their second season of play. They have started the campaign reasonably well and that gives renewed optimism to everyone associated with the franchise. Nobody knows where they will end up but it will be a fascinating ride all the way. They have the talent to make the playoffs and once they do that, then anything is possible.
The Orlando Solar Bears will be looking to stamp their authority on the ECHL this season. It might only be their second campaign in the league but the sooner they make people sit up and take notice, the better it is for everyone associated with the team. Hopes are high and a lot of that is down to the fact that they have a roster talented enough to at least make the franchise become part of the postseason festivities. Their fans have been buying Orlando Solar Bears tickets in pretty good numbers so they will have the support behind them. All they need to do is play to their potential and hold up their end of the bargain. So if you are a hockey fan from Orlando then brace yourself for an interesting year ahead.
Orlando and the Solar Bears History
The current Solar Bears are not the first team with that name to play in Orlando. That distinction goes to Orlando Solar Bears of the International Hockey League (IHL) that were incepted in the year 1994. That team took to the ice rink for the first time in the year 1995-1996 season and made an instant impact on the league.
Solar Bears won both the division as well as the conference title in their debut campaign. They followed that up by winning another two conference titles in 1999 and 2001. Not only that but they also got their hands on the prestigious Turner Cup in 2001. The league folded as soon as that campaign ended.
Birth of the Current Orlando Solar Bears
After a gap that lasted a decade, the current Orlando Solar Bears were formed in 2001. With no IHL around anymore, the new team joined the ECHL ranks and settled for the Amway Center as their home venue. Drake Berehowsky was brought onboard to become their first coach.
The Solar Bears began to play for the first time in the 2012-2013 season but it didn’t turn out to be a great season overall. Out of a total seventy two games that they played in their inaugural campaign, the Solar Bears managed to win only twenty eight. The same number of games was lost during regular play while overtime losses and shootout losses count stood at three and four respectively.
The season provided the management a pretty good indicator of what they actually lacked. They went to work on their shortcomings and have strengthened the roster over the offseason. The biggest change however was the bringing in of a new head coach. Berehowsky left the post and his place has now been taken over by Vince Williams. The changes seem to be working as the Orlando Solar Bears have made a pretty decent start to the campaign. This should give them confidence and act as a springboard to launch them to new heights. Will that actually happen remains to be seen but they look to have enough in the tank to last the distance this time around.