Revisit the Orlando Solar Bears out of hibernation season

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Courtesy of Orlando Solar Bears

The Orlando Solar Bears finished their inaugural season in the ECHL with a 28-37-3-4 record, falling 17 points short of a playoff spot.

The Amway Center was where the Solar Bears played some of their best hockey going 20-11-1-4 at home this season, while sporting a 8-26-2-0 on the road.

“For an expansion franchise I thought we did pretty good,” said head coach Drake Berehowsky after the team’s final home game. “Our home record was really good, on the road we struggled a bit, we’ve had a lot of adversity.”

C.J. Severyn was the 2012-2013 season’s Most Valuable Player for the Solar Bears, while teammate Ryan Cruthers won the Fans Choice award this past season.

Severyn also played in his first ECHL All-Star game this season, getting the nod to go to Loveland, CO after Nick Peterson was called up to Orlando’s American Hockey League affiliate Houston Aeros midway through the season. Severyn finished the season with 22 goals and 22 assists in 62 games, giving him 44 points for the year. He also spent six games with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. Severyn failed to record a point in his brief stint with the Checkers.

“As an organization our job is to develop players and make sure that when they get up there they’re ready to play,” said Berehowsky. “If you look at a lot of the guys who got the opportunity we probably rank right up there with most teams, we probably lead the charge in most non-affiliated call ups.”

Mathew Sisca was the team’s scoring leader at the end of the season with 48 points, despite sitting out the last couple of weeks of the season due to an injury. Sisca finished the season with 15 goals and a team-high 33 assists for the Solar Bears.

Defenseman Derick Martin was the only Orlando player to play in all 72 games of the season for the Solar Bears. Martin was the team’s alternate captain all season, while teammate Ryan Cruthers held down the captain’s role for Orlando.

The Solar Bears ranked third in the league in attendance this season averaging 6,668 fans per game and having 240,057 total fans throughout 36 home games. Orlando had 8,558 fans show up for the team’s final home game against the Florida Everblades on Wednesday, March 27.

“It was unbelievable,” said Cruthers about the fans response at the end of the team’s final home game. “I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve played for a lot of teams both the American League, East Coast League and our fans are by far the best.”

“This is the best city in the East Coast Hockey League,” said Berehowsky about the Orlando fans. “It’s a first class building, we have a first class organization, and the fans have responded and we sure appreciate it.”

Orlando started seven different goalies during the 2012-2013 season, while also playing 57 different players on the ice throughout the year including Tampa Bay Lightning player B.J. Crombeen and St. Louis Blues winger Ryan Reaves.

Reaves played 13 games for the Solar Bears before returning to the National Hockey League after the lockout ended. In his 13 games Reaves had nine points on six goals and three assist for Orlando.

“Reaves was a good part of this team not only on the ice but off the ice,” said team Chief Operating Officer Bob Ohrablo. “You just saw the influence his hard work had and you saw him coaching guys on the side.”

John Curry was statistically the Solar Bears’  best goaltender going 17-11 in 32 games played, while having a 2.80 goals against average before being called up to Houston at the tail end of the season.

Josh Caron, Sean Lorenz, Derrick Burnett, and Justin Levac all scored their first professional goals this season along with teammates Ryan Berard, Nick McParland, and Central Florida native Eddie Levens.