Solar Bears look ahead after elimination from playoffs


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Eric Baier was the Solar Bears captain for the entire 2013-14 ECHL season, helping lead them to their first Kelly Cup Playoff run in franchise history.

The Orlando Solar Bears are heading into the offseason already reflecting on what the franchise can build on moving forward.

The Solar Bears were eliminated from playoff contention by the Cincinnati Cyclones on Tuesday night after losing 2-1, but Orlando head coach Vince Williams has already started to see the positives that have come with the series loss.

“We are obviously disappointed but at the same time it’s something that a lot of these guys never experienced at this point of the game and you get to see it’s not easy,” said Williams.

“For a lot of guys in that dressing room that never had an opportunity to play in the playoffs certainly got a good dose of it and will know what to expect now. That’s a good learning lesson if you’re going to take anything away from this; you see how hard it is to win a series and a championship.”

Game 6 in Orlando on Tuesday night didn’t seem all that likely just one week ago. The Solar Bears lost the first three games of the series, and didn’t win their first game until last Friday in Cincinnati.

The Solar Bears’ 3-2 overtime win in Cincinnati on Saturday night guaranteed that the series would head back to Orlando for Game 6 and if necessary, Game 7. While a Game 7 couldn’t be forced, Solar Bears captain Eric Baier was proud of how the team played down three games.

“For some reason with this group of guys we never had a doubt in our mind coming out for the overtime period or coming out for the third [period],” said Baier. “In those kinds of situations with our backs on the wall is when we perform our best. [It] was a great game and we were fighting for every inch.”

Despite not having the most ideal result this season, Baier said the year as a whole was pretty good.

“I think people start to realize especially after a slower season last year the potential that this place has,” said Baier. “With that kind of support that we have here in a great town, a lot of good things can come from it.”

Williams echoed Baier’s statements and added that the Solar Bears’ first-class organization will only continue to help the team moving forward.

“The support from the fan base and the community is unbelievable,” said Williams. “They do a great job of supporting the team and it’s probably the most exciting building to play in. The facilities are second to none. It’s first-class all the way and that’s the difference of getting the right player or not.”