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Solar Bears receive six from Toronto Marlies

Sunday, October 12th
Solar Bears receive six from Toronto Marlies

Biggs, Kessel, Knodel, Ross, Rupert, Sparks to Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Solar Bears, proud affiliate of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and AHL's Toronto Marlies, announced today that F Tyler Biggs, D Blake Kessel, D Eric Knodel, F Brad Ross, F Ryan Rupert, and G Garret Sparks have been assigned to Orlando from the Toronto Marlies. In addition, D Gleason Fournier has been released from the Marlies roster and is expected to join the Solar Bears this week.

The Solar Bears must submit their roster for the start of the 2014-15 season by Wednesday afternoon (October 15). Teams are permitted to carry a maximum of 23 players on their roster.

“The players worked extremely hard during this training camp and left it all on the ice during the preseason games,” said Head Coach Vince Williams. “There will be a lot of tough decisions to be made as we approach Opening Night on Saturday.”

Biggs (6-2, 223 lbs.), was drafted in the first round, #22 overall, by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2011 NHL Draft. He played 57 games for the Toronto Marlies last season, his first as pro, scoring seven goals and adding two assists. He played in 60 games for the Oshawa Generals (OHL) in 2012-13, scoring 53 points on 26 goals and 27 assists. That season, he also won a Gold Medal with Team USA in the Under 20 World Junior Championships. Biggs played in 37 games for the University of Miami in Ohio in 2011-12, posting 17 points on nine goals and eight assists to go along with 63 PIM. He served as the team captain for both the U.S. National U18 Team and U.S. National Team Development Program in 2010-11, and won Gold Medals with both the U.S. National U17 and U18 Teams in 2009-10.

Kessel (6-2, 210) played in 43 games for the Solar Bears last season, leading all Orlando defensemen with 28 assists and 36 points. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders. Kessel skated in 54 games for the Trenton Titans, recording 41 points to rank second among ECHL defensemen on eight goals and 33 assists, in 2012-13 and also scored two goals and added two assists in seven games with the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL). Kessel began his professional career in 2011-12 with Adirondack, playing 56 games and recording 18 points (1 goal, 17 assists).

Knodel (6-6, 225 lbs.) was a fifth round pick (#128 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2009 NHL Draft. He made his professional debut with the Marlies at the end of last season, notching two assists in 10 games. Knodel played four seasons (2010-14) for the University of New Hampshire (NCAA), where he served as Team Captain and notched 28 points on seven goals and 21 assists in 41 games and was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team. A native of West Chester, PA, Knodel played in 116 games during his NCAA career, scoring 20 goals and adding 41 assists for 61 points.

Ross (6-0, 174 lbs.) was drafted in the second round (#43 overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2010 NHL Draft. He played six games for the Solar Bears last season, scoring one goal, and notched 10 points (6G, 4A) and 104 PIM in 53 games with the Marlies. Ross scored eight goals to go along with three assists in 40 games for the Marlies in 2012-13, and also picked up three points (1G, 2A) in five games with the Idaho Steelheads that season. The native of Lethbridge, AB, played five seasons (2007-12) in the Western Hockey League (WHL), all for the Portland Winterhawks, scoring 109 goals and adding 136 assists for 245 points in 270 games. He also had 656 PIM in those five seasons and led the WHL in PIM with 203 in the 2009-10 season.

Rupert (5-9, 190 lbs.) was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the sixth round (#157 overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft and has played the last four seasons (2010-14) for the London Knights in the OHL. He served as an alternate captain last season, finishing second on the team with 52 assists and fourth on team with 73 points. He won OHL Championships in both 2012-13 and 2011-12, and in 224 OHL contests Rupert finished with 194 points on 58 goals and 136 assists.

Sparks (6-2, 204 lbs.) was drafted in the seventh round (#190 overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2011 NHL Draft. He appeared in 10 games for the Solar Bears last season, collecting a 4-6-0 record with a 2.82 GAA and .916 save percentage. He earned his first professional shutout last season, stopping 30 shots to lead the Solar Bears to a 1-0 win over the Greenville Road Warriors on November 26. He also played in 21 games for the Marlies last season, earning a 2.63 GAA and .915 save percentage. Sparks won a Gold Medal as a member of the USA U20 Team in 2012-13, and prior to turning pro he compiled a 71-48-9 record with a 2.97 GAA and .909 save percentage in 138 games for the Guelph Storm (OHL) from 2010-13.

Fournier (6-0, 190 lbs.) was drafted in the third round, #90 overall, by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2009 NHL Draft and has 19 points (3G, 16A) in 71 ECHL games.  In 68 AHL games, Fournier has two goals and 10 assists for 12 points. He played 25 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) last season, recording two assists, and also appeared in one contest with the Toledo Walleye. In 2012-13, Fournier helped Grand Rapids win the Calder Cup Championship while scoring one goal and adding five assists for six points. He also scored one goal in 15 games with Toledo. Fournier began his professional career in 2011-12, posting four points (1G, 3A) with the Griffins and 18 points (2G, 16A) in 55 games with the Walleye.

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