Then, they got an NHL franchise to align with.
Wednesday, the Orlando Solar Bears learned who'd they play and when they'd play them, so now they can stop talking about when they "hit the ice in mid-October."
Opening Night, October 13.
Home Opener, October 20. Get your tickets.
The ECHL released its schedule on Tuesday, and gave the Solar Bears, reviving as a franchise after an 11-year hibernation, the honor of opening the season against the defending league champions.
Orlando will play in Estero against the Southern Division rival Florida Everblades, the newly-minted 2011-12 Kelly Cup champions, to open the season. They'll play again the following Friday (Oct. 19) before boarding a nortbound bus on I-75 for the Solar Bears' first game in the Amway Center the following night.
Those two teams also play four games in March (26th-30th) to close the regular season. They play 16 times total (nine at Germain Arena, seven at Amway Center). Other notable parts of the schedule include:
- A three-game trip to Western Conference opponents Las Vegas (Nov. 29-30) and Ontario (Dec. 1). Last year's schedule had no play across the Eastern and Western Conferences.
- A stretch from Dec. 14 to Jan. 15 in which the O-Bears play 13 of 15 games on the road. From Feb. 13 to March 3, the team will enjoy a nine-game home stand.
- A Thanksgiving Day game at 7 p.m. in Gwinett, Ga. against the Gladiators.
- A Monday afternoon (3 p.m.) game on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 21) against the Wheeling (W.Va.) Nailers.