ORLANDO, Fla. – When head coach and general manager Matt Carkner set out in the summer to build his team for the 2023-24 season, his second at the helm of the Orlando Solar Bears, it was important to him to build a solid core of players, but also a group he believes that will be here in Orlando for much of the season.
That’s life in the ECHL, when good play is often rewarded with a call-up to the American Hockey League. Losing impact players from your roster is the constant dynamic of trying to build a winner in “AA” professional hockey.
One player who knows the grind of the ECHL schedule better than most is forward Brayden Low, who returns to the league after one season in Denmark. In fact, Low’s 298-career ECHL games is the most among Solar Bears rostered players at training camp. At 29-years old, Low understands his role on the hockey club and is excited about the possibilities ahead for the team.
“We definitely have a good group and core base here to build on,” said the veteran forward. “I’m looking forward to seeing (players invited to AHL training camps) down and seeing what they bring and where they fit in, but so far so good. I've been really impressed with the talent pool and the work ethic so far.”
Despite his proven track record, Low is also looking for a fresh start after injuries plagued his early season last year.
“I think last year in Denmark the injuries and the switching teams, I just felt I was behind just right when I got there. The big emphasis this offseason was skating and getting the puck touches in quick and working on my release and shot. I am familiar with this league and how much time and space you have out there compared to Europe, so looking forward to adjusting back.”
And as excited as Low is to meet his new teammates, he also is rekindling a friendship with Solar Bears defenseman and roommate Ben Carroll, with whom he won a championship last season in Denmark.
“Yeah, it’s awesome to have him here,” said Low. “We got close last season in Demark and anytime you win a championship with a guy and then come back to try and do it again, it’s special. I feel like we have the right group together here in Orlando to make a run and replicate that.”
The Solar Bears are preparing for a pair of preseason contests on the road against the Florida Everblades on Thursday, October 12 and Friday, October 13. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.