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Game Preview: Solar Bears at Stingrays - April 7, 2018

Saturday, April 7th
Game Preview: Solar Bears at Stingrays - April 7, 2018

WHO: Orlando Solar Bears at South Carolina StingraysVENUE: North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, S.C.DATE: Saturday, April 7 at 7:05 p.m.WATCH: ECHL.TVLISTEN: OSB Radio via Mixlr

TONIGHT: The Orlando Solar Bears (33-29-6-3) conclude their 2017-18 regular season against the South Carolina Stingrays (47-16-7-1). Orlando has posted a 4-4-0-2 record against South Carolina this season. Orlando faces the Stingrays next week to open the South Division Semifinals in the first-ever postseason meeting between the two clubs.

HEETER GOES FOR 20TH WIN: With Cal Heeter expected to get the start tonight, the goaltender will have a crack at becoming only the third netminder following Garret Sparks and Ryan Massa to reach the 20-win mark in a single season with the Solar Bears. Heeter has gone 4-1-1 in six appearances against the Stingrays this season, posting a 1.80 goals-against average and a brilliant .944 save percentage.

OFFENSE ON PAR WITH STINGRAYS: Thanks to a late-season surge, the Solar Bears are averaging roughly the same number of goals per game as the Stingrays (2.97 to 2.99). An ideal hot start and strong defensive play from Orlando will be critical to securing a victory, especially if Orlando can take advantage of a Stingrays defense that surrenders an average of 23.94 shots per game, the fourth-worst in the ECHL.

THOMPSON EXPECTED TO MAKE RETURN: After missing the past nine games for Orlando, forward Tayler Thompson is expected to return to the lineup tonight. While Thompson has been limited in his appearances this season, the team has posted a 16-9-2-0 record when Thompson has dressed. Orlando’s seven games above the .500 mark when Thompson is in the lineup ties the forward with Martins Dzierkals and Sean Zimmerman for the second-largest positive differential above .500 on the roster this season.

GUDBRANSON RECALLED TO MARLIES: Defenseman Alex Gudbranson has been recalled to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. The 23-year-old has tallied 15 points (4g-11a) and 63 penalty minutes in 40 games with Orlando this season, and has skated in two games with Toronto during a prior recall.

STREAKS:

  • J.J. Piccinich – 3-game point streak (1g-3a)
  • Joshua Winquist – 3-game assist streak (4a)

MILESTONES:

  • Kale Kerbashian – 3 goals from 100 in professional career
  • Sean Zimmerman – 2 points from 100 in professional career

AFFILIATE NOTES: Despite suffering a 3-2 shootout loss last night at Utica, the Toronto Marlies (51-18-1-2) secured the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy for the second time in three seasons with the best points percentage in the AHL. The Marlies roll into Rochester to face the Americans tonight at 7:05 p.m. The Toronto Maple Leafs (48-26-6-1) conclude their regular season tonight at home against Montreal.

NEXT GAME: The Solar Bears return to the North Charleston Coliseum next Thursday, April 12 as they open Game 1 of the South Division Semifinals against the Stingrays at 7:05 p.m.

PLAYOFF TICKETS: The Solar Bears will play the South Carolina Stingrays in the South Division Semifinals of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs, and will host the following games at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center:

  • Game 3 – Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m
  • Game 4 – Saturday, April 21 at 7 p.m.
  • Game 5 – Sunday, April 22 at 6 p.m. (if necessary)

Tickets for the first round of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs are on sale now – fans can purchase tickets starting at $18 through the Amway Center box office or by visiting 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.

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