TONIGHT: The Solar Bears (0-0-0-0) open the 2017-18 regular season with their first-ever match against the Jacksonville Icemen (0-0-0-0) in Jacksonville’s home opener. The previous incarnation of the Icemen franchise was based out of Evansville, Ind. – Orlando had a lifetime record of 9-3-0-0 against the Evansville IceMen in four seasons of competition from 2012-16.
NEW-LOOK BEARS: The Solar Bears take the ice tonight with a largely-revamped lineup compared to the roster in April – Chris Crane and Joe Perry are the lone holdovers under contract with Orlando; defenseman Jeff King got into a small sample of games at the end of the regular season and playoffs before signing an AHL deal with the Toronto Marlies over the summer.
GRIZZLED BEARS: The Solar Bears roster is filled to the ECHL maximum of four veterans; defenseman Sean Zimmerman and forward Darryl Bootland begin the season on injured reserve, but Orlando still has defenseman Mike Monfredo and forward Mike Vaskivuo ready to go for tonight’s game. Vaskivuo, 31, is in his 10th year of pro hockey and led Orlando with two goals in the preseason against the Florida Everblades, while Monfredo, 27, is in his sixth year of pro hockey and coming off his fourth consecutive 27+ point season.
REINFORCEMENT ARRIVE FROM TORONTO: In addition to the numerous ECHL-contracted players that have been recruited by Orlando’s hockey operations staff, the Solar Bears will also be aided by several players contracted through the AHL’s Toronto Marlies – notably fourth-year defenseman Alex Gudbranson, who played parts of the last two seasons with Monfredo with the Quad City Mallards; goaltender Cal Heeter, fresh off a stint with the Calder Cup-winning Grand Rapids Griffins; and rookie forward J.J. Piccinich, a 2014 draft selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
JACKSONVILLE JETS UP: Orlando’s opponent tonight is coached by Jason Christie, the ECHL’s all-time winningest coach (547 victories). Christie spent the past two seasons with the Tulsa Oilers, where his club missed the Kelly Cup playoffs. Christie brought Tulsa’s affiliation with the Winnipeg Jets to Jacksonville, and as a result, several Winnipeg and Manitoba Moose players have been assigned to the Icemen. Additionally, Jacksonville possesses two players on its roster who are contracted with the Columbus Blue Jackets in defenseman Scott Savage and forward Bobby Macintyre
AFFILIATE NOTES: The Toronto Marlies (2-1-0-0-) are in the midst of a three-in-three set and look to get back in the win column after falling to the Hartford Wolf Pack by a 5-2 score last night in Connecticut. The Maple Leafs (3-1-0-0) square off against the Montreal Canadiens tonight at the Bell Centre.
NEXT GAME: Orlando travels to Texas for the first of two games against the Allen Americans on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 8:05 p.m. ET.
The Solar Bears return to the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center to open their home schedule on Saturday, Oct. 28 vs. the Atlanta Gladiators at 7 p.m.
Fans can purchase BOGO tickets for Opening Weekend and get tickets for both Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29 vs. Atlanta by visiting orlandosolarbearshockey.com/coors to take advantage of this offer, presented by Coors Light. Single-game tickets for the 2017-18 season are now on sale at the Amway Center box office and ticketmaster.com.
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.