Solar Bears score six, defeat Swamp Rabbits in season opener


Courtesy of Fernando Medina / Orlando Solar Bears

Brady Vail scored the first goal of the Solar Bears 2015-16 season in Orlando’s 6-3 win over Greenville.

Local Floridian Brady Vail leads Orlando with one goal and three assists to help secure a 6-3 victory over Greenville in front of 9,366 fans during the season opener.

The Solar Bears showed they wanted to make a statement this season by taking charge and getting out early over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in the first period.

Orlando kicked off their season with a bang by jumping out to an early 2-1 lead against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in the first period of the season opener. Brady Vail was the first one to get the points up on the board with 5 minutes into the game. He finished the game with one goal and three assists and was a key contributor throughout the game.

“The offense was great,” said Vail about his teammate. “The defense stepped up and got it to our forwards, and also praising the effort that fellow teammate Matt Rupert gave on the ice as well.”   

Goals by Vail and Matt Rupert gave the Solar Bears a commanding  2-0 lead over the Swamp Rabbits 10 minutes into the 1st period before Jack Combs was able to put Greenville on the board with five minutes left in the first. The Solar Bears looked forceful and explosive in the opening period during their season opener playing well on offense and defense.  

Continuing their strong performance from the opening period the Solar Bears kept their momentum going as Brett Findlay scored a goal 8:00 into the second stanza to extend their lead to 3-1 over Greenville. The Solar Bears played stout defense not allowing Greenville any scores in the 2nd period.

After putting up three goals in the first two periods of the game, the Solar Bears continued their onslaught adding three more scores in the final period of the opener. Rupert topped of his strong debut with his second goal of the game seven minutes into the third period. Following Rupert’s goal Greenville was able to respond with a couple of goals to shorten their deficit to one with 8:35 left in the final period.

However, the Solar Bears did not waste any time before putting points back up on the scoreboard. Thanks to some last minute goals by Solar Bears’ Eric Baier and T.J. Foster in the last three minutes of the game; the Bears were able to finish strong and end the game 6-3 over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

The coach for the Solar Bears was very pleased with the way his players were able to maintain and control possession of the puck out on the ice tonight.

“I was expecting the players to take some time to get their timing down and get used to each other with this being the first game of the season;” said Solar Bears head coach Anthony Noreen. “But right from when the puck got dropped I thought that his team was pretty on key with each other.

Noreen also gave credit to his players for buying into the culture that the coaches have implemented here so far and really sticking to that tonight as they got the win in front of the second largest audience attendance for a Solar Bears game since the team’s first game in the ECHL.

On top of a strong performance in the season opener the Solar Bears will look to hold onto and build upon their 1-0 record when they face the Norfolk Admirals this Thursday at the Amway Center.