Solar Bears fall to ECHL’s best in All-Star Classic


Ty Wright / Valencia Voice

The Solar Bears will prepare to continue the regular season on Friday, Jan. 23 at home against the Greenville Road Warriors.

For the third time in a row, the All-Star team won the ECHL All-Star Classic by a landslide victory to come up over the hosting Orlando Solar Bears 8-4 at their home ice at the Amway Center on Wednesday, Jan. 21 in front of an announced crowd of 9288 people.

Orlando looked promising in the opening period but would lose their traction after the first intermission and was unable to bounce back, but the fans still showed their support showing up in huge numbers to show their home team some love even through a loss.

“It was very exciting, the atmosphere and the energy of the building was great, I know a lot of people had a lot of fun tonight.” said head coach Vince Williams, who didn’t seem disappointed in his team. “It was great… obviously its a little tougher watching on the bench giving up a couple of rushes and breakaways all night,

“But overall I thought it was a real victory in showing what this organization has done for the ECHL and hockey in Central Florida and the type of fan base and passion thats down here in Orlando.”

Orlando came out swinging with a goal just over four minutes into the game with a wrist shot by veteran Scott Tanski that sailed into the upper left corner of the net bringing on top 1-0. With the assist was team captain Eric Baier. Prior to the game the Solar Bears were 14-1-2-0 after scoring the first goal of the game.

“It felt great, it was just a great experience, I had a smile on my face even before the game started. It felt awesome to get that first one and the way the crowd was going out of control, everything thats happened in the past couple of days was just exceptional, its been a dream come true to participate in something like this.” said Tanski about his game-opening goal.

Gaining some quick momentum early on finishing the first period 1-0, the Solar Bears were unable to keep up getting outscored 5-2 in the second period with the game getting further out of hand as the clock ticked down.

“They have a good team, they bring some of the best young players over and it shows there a a lot of skill in the league. In a game like the All-Star game you’re not going to have a lot of big hits or much physical contact and that leads to some plays that aren’t so structured.” said Taski about the play style of a game like this one. “The experience is something I’m going to take away more than the score, I’m probably not going to remember that we lost 8-4 but I am going to remember the experiences I’ve had being a part of all this.”

During the intermission players competed for the Fastest Skater Competition where Alex Krushelnyski of the Utah Grizzlies came out on top with a 13:47 second time around the rink.

The All-Star team came of the bench blazing into the second period commanding the ice with good control of the puck and fierce shots on goal that resulted in a goal by Wichita Thunder forward Danick Gauthier and a score by Gwinnett Gladiator Brendan Walker that was assisted by Stockton Thunder player Lukas Sutter to bring the All-Star team up 2-1.

Orlando forward Carson McMillan was able to tie the game up at 2-2 with a flick shot into the upper left corner while skating past the left side of the goal that was assisted by Marshall Everson.

The game quickly got away from Orlando however, as the All-Star team scored two goals in a 1:27 minute span by Fastest Skater winner Krushelnyski on a breakaway and by Evansville Icemen Myles Bell that would bring the ECHL All Stars up 4-2.

Bell would also commit the first penalty of the game getting called for hooking 17:04 into the game giving the Solar Bears a fruitless powerplay they were unable to turn into a score. Immediately after returning to the ice from the box, Bell is able to sail a puck right past Orlando goaltender Sean Bonar bringing the All Star lead to 5-2 at the end of the second period.

Orlando’s Yann Sauve won the Hardest Shot competition as he slap-shotted the puck 94 mph into the net.

Orlando was still unable to get on a hot streak losing passes and missing shots then Olivier Archambault of the Alaska Aces scored his first of two goals in the sixth minute of the period which was quickly was answered by the Solar Bears with the first goal from rookie Spencer McAvoy that would lessen the gap to 6-4 with 13 minutes left in the period. The All-stars would go to score two more goals to end the game at 8-4.

“We’re still getting adjusted with a few guys out there. We didn’t really change much as far as systematically what we wanted to do, there are obviously tougher games to play in structurally but we needed to use that as a means for preparation because its not going to be like that Friday,” said Williams looking towards their next regular season game on Friday against Greenville. “So we have to get out edge back and our urgency level has to be a little higher when it comes to how important points are in the second half.”

The Orlando Solar Bears will return to their home ice this Friday at the Amway Center against the Greenville Road Warriors at 7:30 p.m.