Orlando Solar Bears (IHL)

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.

Orlando Solar Bears
CityOrlando, Florida
ConferenceEastern Conference
DivisionCentral (199596)
Northeast (199699)
Founded1994 (1994)
Home arenaOrlando Arena
ColorsSolar purple, seafoam green, sunset orange, white
Owner(s)RDV Sports, Inc.
General managerDon Waddell (199597)
John Weisbrod (19972001)
Head coachCurt Fraser (199599)
Peter Horachek (19992001)
MediaSunshine Network
WZKD (AM 950)
WFLF (AM 540)
AffiliatesAtlanta Thrashers (NHL) 1999–2001
Greenville Grrrowl (ECHL)
Mississippi Sea Wolves (ECHL)
Division Championships1 199596
Conference Championships3 199596, 199899, 200001
Turner Cups1 200001


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

Franchise history

The Solar Bears franchise 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, which was the final Turner Cup Championship.

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, including being the second-last team to win the Turner Cup. A handful of Solar Bears went on to play for the team they defeated for the championship, the Chicago Wolves, in the AHL, most notably goalie Norm Maracle, the IHL MVP of that deciding playoff series. That Wolves team went on to 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, F.

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, against the Detroit Vipers. In 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. The Solar Bears went on to lose 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.[1]

Season-by-season record

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

1995–968252246011035230721611st in CentralFinal, 0–4 (UTA)
1996–978253240511130523222182nd in NortheastLost in Semi-final (CIN)
1997–988242301039425825123212nd in NortheastLost in ECF (DET)
1998–99824533409426425323242nd in NortheastFinal, 3–4 (HOU)
1999–0082472301210625020220202nd in EastLost in Semi-final (CIN)
2000–018247280710124119315922nd in EastWon Turner Cup, 4–1 (CHI)
Grand Totals49228616220295351670143812636

IHL Awards and Trophies

Turner Cup

  • 2000–01

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)

N.R. Poile Trophy (Playoff MVP)

Gary F. Longman Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)

Comeback Player of the Year

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: Allan Bester, 37 (1996–97)
Most Shutouts in a season: Norm Maracle, 8 (2000–01)

See also

List of Orlando Solar Bears players


  1. Press release (November 16, 2011). "Orlando welcomes back the Solar Bears". ECHL. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
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