The Orlando Solar Bears gave a nod to their lineage on Saturday by -- finally -- honoring the 2001 International Hockey League champions with a championship banner at the Amway Center.
The 10-minute pre-game ceremony included former PA announcer Scott Mackenzie, who called it at the old Amway Arena up the street when the O-Bears downed the Chicago Wolves 4-1 in their third Turner Cup finals appearance in six years. It also included father Graham Snyder and the family of Dan Snyder, who played with the 2000-01 before moving on to the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers. He died in injuries sustained in a Sept. 29, 2003 car accident when the Ferrari driven by teammate Dany Heatley spun out of control and careened into a wall.
Mayor Buiddy Dyer and the current Solar Bears ownership group, who didn't have anything to do with the championship (Dyer was elected mayor in 2003), were also on hand. During the ceremony, clips from 2001 and stalwarts from that team, including Mark Beaufait, Todd Richards and Norm Maracle were shown before the banner was finally unveiled.
Throughout the game (a very strong effort in a 6-4 win over the Trenton Titans, befitting and honoring the '01 champs), the current whereabouts and escapades of players from the Cup-winning team.
Some fans were very, very concerned that this ceremony would be hastily (read: poorly) done and not befitting Orlando's last championship. While it could have been a little longer, kudos to the Bears for bringing back Mackenzie, donning throwack jerseys from 2000-01 and giving an overall shiver of nostalgia for, like I said, Orlando's last champion.
Not the worst effort, gang. Well done.