Orlando, Fla. – Orlando Solar Bears partners Jason Siegel, Joe Haleski and Bob Ohrablo joined Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to welcome the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild and the AHL Houston Aeros as affiliates for the Solar Bears as they begin their Out of Hibernation season in October 2012. The announcement was made at RDV Ice Den, the official training and practice site of the Orlando Solar Bears.
Minnesota Sports and Entertainment hockey executive Jim Mill was on hand for the announcement.
“Central Florida has welcomed the Orlando Solar Bears back with open arms and we couldn’t think of a better atmosphere for our players to develop their skills in,” Mill said. “We are excited to welcome Joe, Jason and Bob and the Solar Bears fans into the Wild family.”
Orlando Solar Bears Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner Bob Ohrablo pointed to several reasons that the Solar Bears selected the Wild.
“We want to win,” exclaimed Ohrablo. “We strongly believe that affiliating with the Wild organization will provide us with a solid core of players from which we can build a competitive and exciting team for our fans.”
Mill took over the hockey operations at the Houston Aeros in 2009 and in 2010-11 the Aeros went to the AHL Calder Cup finals. The Aeros went 35-25-16 (2011-12) and were the only team that had advanced to the final four in 2010-11 to qualify for the playoffs this season.
“This is a major step in building a winning organization here in Orlando,” explained Ohrablo. “We will now focus on securing our general manager/coach and begin to sign players in consultation with our hockey partners in Minnesota/Houston.”
Minnesota had four players with ECHL experience skate in a NHL game this season. Houston recalled a total of 19 players from the ECHL in 2011-12 and they combined to play in 400 games for the Aeros.
“Houston and Minnesota used to be competitors of the IHL Orlando Solar Bears. Now we have all joined together in an effort to bring a championship to our fans in all three markets,” added Mill.