TONIGHT: The Solar Bears (31-28-6-3) wrap up their regular season series with the Jacksonville Icemen. Orlando has already won the head-to-head series with a 6-1-1-0 record against Jacksonville. The Icemen can still mathematically qualify for the postseason, however a loss in regulation tonight for Jacksonville would eliminate the team from postseason contention.
PLAYOFF PICTURE: The Solar Bears have clinched a spot in the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs and will compete in the postseason for the fourth time in franchise history. Orlando sits in third place in the South Division, with a four-point cushion on fourth-place Atlanta (idle today) with one game in hand – the magic number for the Solar Bears to lock up third place is three points. If the playoffs were to begin today, Orlando’s opponent in the South Division Semifinals would be South Carolina.
DZIERKALS LEADS WAY: Rookie forward Martins Dzierkals has been a dynamic force against Jacksonville this season. The 20-year-old has compiled eight points (4g-4a) in six contests against the Icemen, accounting for roughly 24% of his season totals, and tallied the game-winner against Jacksonville in a 4-1 home win on Nov. 21.
OPTIONS IN GOAL: Both Mackenzie Skapski and Cal Heeter have enjoyed strong play against the Icemen this season. Each goaltender has secured multiple wins against Jacksonville, and both netminders boast identical .922 save percentages against the Icemen.
EBERLE ENJOYING HOT PLAY: Although the Icemen are missing several of their top scorers against Orlando this season, the Solar Bears will look to contain Jacksonville’s Tanner Eberle, as the third-year pro has been enjoying a recent surge in offensive production. Eberle is currently riding a four-game point streak (3g-1a).
- Joe Perry – 1 goal from 50 with Solar Bears
- Sam Jardine – 2 points from 50 in professional career
- Kale Kerbashian – 3 goals from 100 in professional career
- Sean Zimmerman – 3 points from 100 in professional career
AFFILIATE NOTES: The Toronto Marlies (48-18-1-1) received a brilliant 38-save performance from Garrett Sparks as Toronto downed the Laval Rocket 5-1 last night and now travel to Winnipeg, where they will battle the Manitoba Moose on Friday. The Toronto Maple Leafs (46-24-6-1) picked up a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers last night, and in the process set a new franchise record for wins in a season. Toronto visits the New York Islanders on Friday.
NEXT GAME: The Solar Bears close out their 2017-18 regular season home schedule on Saturday, March 31, as they face the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center at 7 p.m. Saturday’s game is First Responders Appreciation Night, featuring the Guns N’ Hoses 2 p.m. charity game. Single-game tickets for the 2017-18 season are now on sale at the Amway Center box office and ticketmaster.com.
About the Orlando Solar Bears:
The Orlando Solar Bears are in their sixth season of operation in the ECHL, the premier “AA” hockey league in North America, and are the proud affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. The Solar Bears are owned and operated by the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family, and play at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center, the 2012 Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year.
Officially licensed Orlando Solar Bears replica team jerseys, apparel, and headwear can be purchased online at orlandosolarbearshockey.com/shop.