Solar Bears captain moves behind bench for Orlando youth hockey program
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Solar Bears have announced that veteran defenseman and captain Eric Baier has accepted a head coaching position with the Central Florida Hockey Club (CFHC).
“I’m ready to move on to the next chapter in my hockey career,” Baier said. “Over the last four seasons I have been able to play in front of the greatest fans in the ECHL. It’s why I fell in love with this city – which I proudly call home – and it’s why I feel it’s time for me to give back to the community that has embraced me.”
Baier, 29, has enjoyed a seven-year professional career that has seen him play 397 regular season games, with 346 in the ECHL and 51 in the American Hockey League.
Baier originally signed with the Solar Bears on July 29, 2013, and patrolled the blueline for Orlando over the next four seasons while serving as team captain for three campaigns. Baier played in 233 regular season games with the Solar Bears, recording 111 points (33g-78a) and 73 penalty minutes. In his time with Orlando, Baier also received call-ups to four different AHL clubs, including a two-game stint with the Rochester Americans this past season.
“I appreciate everything Eric did for the organization,” Solar Bears head coach Drake Berehowsky said. “His skills and leadership were incredibly valuable, and having a player of his caliber at this level was a pleasure. I wish him the best of luck in the next stage of his hockey career.”
Baier’s 233 regular season games are a franchise record, and his 111 points are fourth in franchise history; he holds the club marks for goals, assists and points by a defenseman. During the 2015-16 campaign, he set the current franchise single-season record for assists (28) and points (38) by a defenseman. Baier also enjoyed the opportunity to play with his older brother Paul Baier during the 2013-14 season.
In 19 career playoff games with Orlando, he added five points (3g-2a) and 21 penalty minutes. He also owns the distinction of scoring the game-winning goal in Orlando’s first-ever overtime victory in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, netting the winning tally in Orlando’s 3-2 decision over the Cincinnati Cyclones in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on April 26, 2014.
“Few players have left as large an imprint on the Solar Bears as Eric did,” outgoing Chairman & CEO Joe Haleski said. “His impact was felt not just on the ice in some of the biggest moments in the team’s history, but throughout the Central Florida community as an ambassador of this team, which he always represented with dignity and class.”
While a member of the Solar Bears, Baier was a three-time recipient of the team’s Rob Kenny Memorial Award for outstanding community service, and was named team MVP during the 2015-16 season.
“We’re very excited that Eric is joining our program,” CFHC hockey director Bill Pinel said. “We’re thrilled that he will bring his wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to continue his work in the community by helping develop our young players in Orlando.”
About the Central Florida Hockey Club
The Orlando Jr. Knights rebranded as the Central Florida Hockey Club (CFHC) on March 11, 2017 to propel the club forward as the premier Tier II travel hockey program in Central Florida. As CFHC enters its 30th year of operation, it will continue the great tradition of exceptional player development and coaching and having wonderful families as part of the program. Try-outs for the 2017 fall season will be held at the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den on Monday, May 22 through Monday, June 5. For more information visit centralfloridahockeyclub.com.
About the Orlando Solar Bears
The Orlando Solar Bears are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and AHL’s Toronto Marlies, and play all of their home games at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center, the 2012 Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year.
Full Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017-18 season are on sale now. Purchase an Orlando Solar Bears Full Season Ticket Membership for as little as $440 today! Click here or call (407) 951-8200 for more information.
Officially licensed Orlando Solar Bears replica team jerseys, apparel, and headwear can be purchased online at orlandosolarbearshockey.com/shop.