- Orlando Solar Bears (IHL)
Orlando Solar Bears City Orlando, Florida League IHL Conference Eastern Conference Division Central (1995–96)
Founded 1994 Operated 1995–2001 Home arena Orlando Arena Colors Solar purple, seafoam green, sunset orange, white
Owner(s) RDV Sports, Inc. General manager Don Waddell (1995–97)
John Weisbrod (1997–2001)
Head coach Curt Fraser (1995–99)
Pete Horachek (1999–2001)
Media Sunshine Network
WZKD (AM 950)
WFLF (AM 540)
Affiliates Atlanta Thrashers (NHL) 1999–2001
Greenville Grrrowl (ECHL)
Mississippi Sea Wolves (ECHL)
Championships Division Championships 1 1995–96 Conference Championships 3 1995–96, 1998–99, 2000–01 Turner Cups 1 2000–01
The Orlando Solar Bears were a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Orlando, Florida. The Solar Bears played in the International Hockey League's Eastern Conference. They played their home games at the Orlando Arena (now the Amway Arena).
- Turner Cup Champions: 1 — 2000–01
- Runner-up: 2 — 1995–96, 1998–99
- Conference Champions: Eastern: 3 — 1995–96, 1998–99, 2000–01
- Division Champions: Central: 1 — 1995–96
- Main Rival: Detroit Vipers
The Solar Bears started in 1995 and played in the International Hockey League (IHL) until the league folded in 2001. They were owned by the DeVos family, who also owned the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Kansas City Blades of the IHL and the Orlando Magic of the NBA. During their time in the IHL, the team made it to three Turner Cup finals, being swept by the Utah Grizzlies in 1996, losing in game seven to the Houston Aeros in 1999 and defeating the Chicago Wolves in five games in 2001.
Several IHL teams were taken into the American Hockey League, but the Solar Bears were not among them. The DeVos family could only bring one team into the AHL, and chose the Griffins because the Solar Bears had never drawn well despite their on-ice success. However, the IHL's prestigious "Turner Cup" resides in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario with the Orlando Solar Bears team name inscribed for all posterity as the 2nd to last team to win it. A handful of Solar Bears went on to play for the team they defeated for the cup, the Chicago Wolves, (AHL), most notably goalie, Norm Maracle, the IHL MVP. of that deciding playoff series 1999–2001. That Wolves team went on the win the Calder Cup in their first AHL season.
During its inaugural season, the Solar Bears starred center Alfie Turcotte, former first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens. Other notable team members included: Hubie McDonough (New York Islanders), C.; Pat Neaton, D.; Barry Dreger, D.; Todd Richards, F.; Craig Fisher (Philadelphia Flyers), D.; Curtis Murphy, D.; Allan Bester, G.; Scott LaGrand; Dave Barr. C.; Mark Beaufait, F.; Todd Krygier (Washington Capitals), F.; Kirby Law, F.; Mike Hartman, F.; Jason Blake, F.; Zac Boyer, F.; Grigori Panteleev, F; Herbert Vasiljevs, F.; and Dan Snyder (Atlanta Thrashers), F.
Historic comeback from 0–3 deficit: In the 1999 Turner Cup Conference Finals, the Solar Bears completed the only successful comeback from a 0–3 deficit in the 56-year history of the International Hockey League. It came at the expense of the Detroit Vipers. In a thrilling Game 7, rookie Jason Blake scored twice in regulation and winger Todd Krygier got the game-winner 25 seconds into the second overtime, giving Orlando a 5–4 victory. Unfortunately for the Solar Bears, they lost in the finals, 4 games to 3, to the Houston Aeros.
In 2011, the ECHL announced a new franchise had been awarded to Orlando. On November 16, 2011 it was announced that the new team would be named the Orlando Solar Bears.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Season GP W L T OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs 1995–96 82 52 24 6 0 110 352 307 2161 1st in Central Final, 0–4 (UTA) 1996–97 82 53 24 0 5 111 305 232 2218 2nd in Northeast Lost in Semi-final (CIN) 1997–98 82 42 30 10 3 94 258 251 2321 2nd in Northeast Lost in ECF (DET) 1998–99 82 45 33 4 0 94 264 253 2324 2nd in Northeast Final, 3–4 (HOU) 1999–00 82 47 23 0 12 106 250 202 2020 2nd in East Lost in Semi-final (CIN) 2000–01 82 47 28 0 7 101 241 193 1592 2nd in East Won Turner Cup, 4–1 (CHI) Grand Totals 492 286 162 20 29 535 1670 1438 12636
IHL Awards and Trophies
Eastern Conference Champions Trophy
- 1995–96, 1998–99, 2000–01
James Norris Memorial Trophy (Best Goaltender - Statistical)
Commissioners' Trophy (Coach of the Year)
- Pete Horachek: 2000–01
Ken McKenzie Trophy (American Born Rookie of the Year)
James Gatschene Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
- Norm Maracle: 2000–01
N.R. Poile Trophy (Playoff MVP)
- Norm Maracle: 2000–01
Gary F. Longman Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
- Brian Pothier: 2000–01
- Kevin Smyth: 1996–97
Orlando Solar Bear Individual Records
Most Goals in a season: Craig Fisher, 74 (1995–96)
Most Assists in a season: Mark Beaufait, 79 (1995–96)
Most Points in a season: Craig Fisher, 130 (1995–96)
Most Penalty Minutes in a season: Barry Dreger, 387 (1996–97)
Most Wins in a season: Norm Maracle, 33 (2000–01)
Most Shutouts in a season: Norm Maracle, 8 (2000–01)
- ^ Press release (November 16, 2011). "Orlando welcomes back the Solar Bears". ECHL. http://echl.com/orlando-welcomes-back-the-solar-bears-p174193. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
- Turner Cup Champions: 1 — 2000–01
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