Hey there, Solar Bears fans! It’s your friendly neighborhood broadcaster Jesse Liebman here, and have we got a treat for you: the first-ever installment of the Broadcast Blog! These aren’t your run-of-the-mill press releases or updates – instead, we’ll try to bring you insight, opinion and an occasional dose of humor with links, videos and tweets. Sometimes the blog will be focused on one topic, other times we’ll cover multiple subjects. Enjoy!
If you’re a fan of pro hockey, then like me, you’ve probably been watching the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators.
Throughout the series, there have been plenty of compelling storylines that have piqued the interest of both the die-hard and casual fans. Perhaps the most prominent – as the series shifted to Music City for Games 3 and 4 – was how the Bridgestone Arena faithful would provide the Predators with a home ice advantage as the team looked to climb out of a 2-0 series deficit.
Boy did they ever.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) June 6, 2017
In Nashville, they call it the Seventh Man. Solar Bears fans can probably appreciate that raucous spirit and energy that has been radiating throughout downtown Nashville – because they’ve witnessed a similar frenetic vibe before. I’m talking of course about Game 4 from this spring’s first-round meeting with the Florida Everblades.
The energy on display that night was something I’ll never forget, but one moment stands out for me above the others.
During the regular season, the team began every game with a pump-up montage set to Styx’s “Renegade,” but this video was moved to the conclusion of the second intermission for the postseason. Within seconds after the arena lights darkened, hundreds of fans activated the flashlights on their phones, without any prompting, and the roar of the crowd as the Solar Bears made their way back to the ice was unlike anything I had heard in an ECHL game before.
— Tim Briggs (@ByTimBriggs) April 23, 2017
If you’re looking for tangible evidence of what home ice advantage means to a team, the fans in Orlando and Nashville certainly displayed it this spring.
And to that I say: take a bow, Solar Bears fans.
So what else has been happening in the Solar Bears and ECHL universe?
– If you didn’t already know, back in his playing days Solar Bears head coach Drake Berehowsky was a member of the inaugural Predators squad in 1998-99. NHL.com writer Shawn Roarke spoke with Drake and several other members from that team during the Western Conference Finals. It’s a great read.
– Speaking of Nashville, the Predators have a new ECHL affiliate in the Norfolk Admirals, which the Solar Bears are currently scheduled to see seven times in 2017-18. Norfolk’s been enjoying a busy start to the offseason already, as the team has also rolled out a brand-new logo and color scheme that draws upon the old Hampton Roads Admirals identity. The Admirals will also be rolling out new jerseys in a few weeks; given the new logo and colors, I wouldn’t be surprised to see if Norfolk’s jerseys are inspired by its new parent club.
– Gotta give kudos to the Colorado Eagles on winning their first-ever Kelly Cup title last night with a 2-1 Game 4 victory over South Carolina. Hats off to the Stingrays as well, who kept things close, as every game in the series was decided by one goal.
— ECHL (@ECHL) June 6, 2017
– The next few weeks are going to get busy, as we’ll see each team wrap up any outstanding future considerations transactions and the release of Season-Ending Rosters, and then the first wave of offseason player signings will commence on June 16. Plus, the conference and divisional alignment for next season will be announced following this month’s Board of Governors Meeting.
– One can assume the newly-relocated Jacksonville IceMen franchise will be placed along with Orlando in the South Division. The IceMen announced the hiring of Jason Christie this morning as Jacksonville’s new head coach and V.P. of hockey operations. Christie is the winningest coach in ECHL history (547), and with the Solar Bears scheduled to play the IceMen in Jacksonville’s home opener on Oct. 14, expect the rivalry to form right away.
– If you haven’t done so already, bookmark the Solar Bears Offseason Headquarters now. We’ll be making updates throughout the season, and it’s a great way to keep track of new and departing players.
– Lastly, in keeping with this blog’s focus for today, I’m just going to leave this here:
In the words of Sir Charles, incredible.
Jesse Liebman is the Director of Communications & Broadcasting for the Solar Bears and enters his third season in Orlando in 2017-18. Shoot him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments or blog ideas.