Solar Bears close in on playoff spot as calendar changes


The Orlando Solar Bears closed out the 2012 portion of their schedule on a three-game winning streak, closing to within a game of the .500 mark at 14-15-4, and with 32 points are just two points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.


Orlando defeated Florida in a pair of meetings at Amway Center last week. In the first match-up of the week on Thursday, Dan Gendur and Scott Tanski scored second-period goals, and the Solar Bears withstood a Florida surge in the third period to hold on for a 2-1 win. John Curry picked up the win, turning aside 28 Florida shots, including saves on 12 of 13 offerings in the final 20 minutes.


On Friday, the Solar Bears matched their offensive high for the season with eight goals in an 8-4 win against the Everblades. Gendur led the way offensively with four goals, while Ryan Reaves (2g), C.J. Severyn (1g-1a), Derick Martin (2a) and Mathew Sisca (2a) each added two points. Orlando’s penalty kill unit came up big in the win, not only killing off four of Florida’s five power-play chances, but also scoring three times while shorthanded, much to the delight of the 8,608 fans in attendance.


Nick Petersen (12g-14a) and Sisca (8g-18a) share the team lead with 26 points each, while Michael Wilson is tied for second among ECHL defensemen with 19 assists and is tied for sixth among blue-liners with 21 points.


Orlando’s attendance has been strong in its expansion season. The Solar Bears rank third in the ECHL with an average of 6,528 per game, and the club has welcomed at least 6,800 fans six times through 15 games.


The Solar Bears open a six-game road trip, and a stretch of nine out of 12 on the road, this week with games at Evansville on Friday, Toledo on Saturday and Fort Wayne on Sunday.

Please note that due to New Year’s Day, the ECHL Player and Goaltender of the Week awards will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 2.