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Stanley Cup and Calder Cup Playoffs begin this week

Monday, May 2nd
Stanley Cup and Calder Cup Playoffs begin this week

While the 2021-22 season came to an end for the Orlando Solar Bears a little over two weeks ago, there are still several former Solar Bears competing for playoff glory.

The top two North American Leagues, the NHL and American Hockey League, are about to commence their postseasons, with the Solar Bears’ NHL affiliate, the Tampa Bay Lightning, defending their current two-year run as Stanley Cup champions when they open up their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight in Toronto.

As of today, five former Solar Bears are on rosters across five NHL clubs, as part of the ECHL having representation from 47 player alumni and 22 coaches within the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Due to the pandemic and an abbreviated 2020-21 season schedule, the Calder Cup Playoffs will make its return for the first time since 2019 this evening featuring an expanded field of 23 teams, as the Providence Bruins take on the Bridgeport Islanders tonight.

If you’re looking at which of your favorite Solar Bears you can follow this spring, here’s a helpful guide below, followed by some notable standouts:

Player

POS

Seasons with Orlando

Team

League

Hugo Alnefelt

G

2021-22

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Nikolas Brouillard

D

2016-17

San Diego Gulls

AHL

Maxim Cajkovic

F

2021-22

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Shawn Element

F

2021-22

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Tye Felhaber

F

2021-22

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Zach Fucale

G

2019-20

Washington Capitals

NHL

Alex Gallant

F

2014-15

Stockton Heat

AHL

Christopher Gibson

G

2013-14

Charlotte Checkers

AHL

Alex Green

D

2020-21

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Jimmy Huntington

F

2019-21

Milwaukee Admirals

AHL

Connor Ingram

G

2018-19

Nashville Predators

NHL

Darcy Kuemper

G

2012-13

Colorado Avalanche

NHL

Alexey Lipanov

F

2018-20; 2021-22

Texas Stars

AHL

Mason Marchment

F

2016-17

Florida Panthers

NHL

Spencer Martin

G

2019-20

Abbotsford Canucks

AHL

Amir Miftakhov

G

2021-22

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Ryan Reaves

F

2012-13

New York Rangers

NHL

Dmitry Semykin

D

2020-22

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Otto Somppi

F

2018-19

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Garret Sparks

G

2013-16; 2020-21

Ontario Reign

AHL

Devante Stephens

D

2020-21

Abbotsford Canucks

AHL

Ben Thomson

F

2020-21

Henderson Silver Knights

AHL

Odeen Tufto

F

2021-22

Syracuse Crunch

AHL

Marcus Vela

F

2019-20

Hershey Bears

AHL

  • Connor Ingram made his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators back on October 24, but had primarily played much of the season with Nashville’s affiliate in Milwaukee, where he was one of the AHL’s top netminders during the regular season. Ingram received a late-season call-up last week with an injury to Predators No. 1 goalie Juuse Saros, and he could potentially receive the start for Nashville when they open up their first round series against the Colorado Avalanche.
  • Mason Marchment enjoyed a breakout second season with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers, who get set to take on the Washington Capitals. The forward tallied 47 points (18g-29a) in 54 games for Florida in the regular season. Marchment was held out of Florida’s final regular season finale for rest, but is likely to return to his role in Florida’s middle six that he has carved out this year once the series gets underway tomorrow in Sunrise.
  • Darcy Kuemper the goaltender enjoyed a strong season for Colorado in his first year with his new club, which earned the top seed in the Western Conference thanks in large part to a career-high 37 wins for Kuemper.  

Another tie to Orlando is Jordan Staal, brother of Solar Bears associate coach Jared Staal, who is currently the captain of the Metropolitan Division champions, the Carolina Hurricanes.

With respect to the Calder Cup Playoffs, the largest contingent of Orlando alumni of note is on the Syracuse Crunch, which boasts nine former Solar Bears on its playoff roster, heading into its best-of-five North Division Semifinals matchup against the Laval Rocket. Because of the unlimited roster size in the AHL, it is likely that not every player listed will make an appearance in the postseason for the Crunch.

One player who is likely to see game action for the Crunch is second-year defenseman Alex Green, who finished second among Syracuse blueliners this season with 26 points (5g-21a) in 73 games.

There is of course some fluidity to this list, as players could make their way down to the AHL in the event their NHL team is eliminated from the playoffs, and vice versa - players who go up to the NHL would likely serve as “Black Aces,” who are unlikely to dress in games, but will practice extensively with their club and be available in the event of an emergency.

Keep in mind, there are also a handful of former Solar Bears scattered throughout the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Playoffs, who could make their way to an AHL team should their ECHL club find itself eliminated. Peter Abbandonato (Trois-Rivières), Ryan Lohin (Allen) and Nikita Pavlychev (Greenville) are three players who could find their way to Laval, Charlotte and Ontario, respectively.

Globally, there are a handful of European leagues that have already crowned a playoff champion, and several former Solar Bears that have lifted hardware are noted below.

Player

POS

Seasons with Orlando

Team

League

Jake Coughler

F

2019-21

Cardiff Devils

EIHL (United Kingdom)

Eric Faille

F

2015-17

EHC Kloten

National League (Switzerland)

Taran Kozun

G

2020-21

Cardiff Devils

EIHL (United Kingdom)

Mark Louis

D

2015-16

Cardiff Devils

EIHL (United Kingdom)

Carson MacMillan

F

2014-15

Löwen Frankfurt

DEL2 (Germany)

Rylan Schwartz

F

2015-16

Löwen Frankfurt

DEL2 (Germany)

Clint Windsor

G

2018-21

HC Slovan Bratislava

Tipos Extraliga (Slovakia)

In addition to the players listed above, former Solar Bears forward Taylor Matson and his club HV71 are currently in the finals of Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan playoffs, and lead IF Björklöven 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

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