Minnesota Wild Have a New ECHL Affiliate: the Orlando Solar Bears

The new ECHL affiliate of your Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild and the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL have announced they have completed a deal for the Solar Bears to serve as the ECHL affiliate to the Wild and Houston Aeros. Previous ECHL affiliates include the Louisiana Ice Gators, the Bakersfield Condors, the Johnstown Chiefs, and the Florida Everblades.

For most Wild fans, and most Wild prospects, this is a deal with little consequence. Only a handful of prospects ever end up at the ECHL level, and deals are fleeting. This is a much bigger deal for those in Houston, who will call on the Solar Bears for help when the Wild rain the Aeros due to injury call-ups.

The Solar Bears were not in operation last season, as is (unfortunately) common practice at that level. The team plays at the Amway Center in Orlando. You can visit their site HERE, and you can read the press release HERE. They are also on Facebook and Twitter for those using those services.

More on this later.

OUT OF HIBERNATION and INTO THE WILD

Minnesota Wild and Houston Aeros Sign Affiliation Agreement with Orlando Solar Bears Orlando, FL

Orlando Solar Bears partners Jason Siegel, Joe Haleski and Bob Ohrablo today joined Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to welcome the National Hockey League's (NHL) Minnesota Wild and the American Hockey League's (AHL) Houston Aeros as affiliates for the Solar Bears as they begin their Out of Hibernation season in October 2012.

Minnesota Wild Assistant to the General Manager Jim Mill, who also serves as the General Manager of the Houston Aeros, was on hand for the announcement. "Central Florida has welcomed the Orlando Solar Bears back with open arms and we couldn't think of a better atmosphere for our players to develop their skills in," Mill said. "We are excited to welcome Joe, Jason, Bob, and the Solar Bears fans into the Wild family." Orlando Solar Bears Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner Bob Ohrablo pointed to several reasons that the Solar Bears selected the Wild. "We want to win," exclaimed Ohrablo. "We strongly believe that affiliating with the Wild organization will provide us with a solid core of players from which we can build a competitive and exciting team for our fans." Mill took over the hockey operations for Houston in 2009 and in 2010-11 the Aeros advanced to the AHL Calder Cup finals.

The Aeros went 35-25-16 and were the only team that advanced to the final four in 2010-11 to qualify for the playoffs this season. "This is a major step in building a winning organization here in Orlando," explained Ohrablo. "We will now focus on securing our general manager/coach and begin to sign players in consultation with our hockey partners in Minnesota and Houston." Minnesota had four players with ECHL experience skate in a NHL game this season. Houston recalled a total of 19 players from the ECHL in 2011-12 and they combined to play in 400 games for the Aeros. "Houston and Minnesota used to be competitors of the IHL Orlando Solar Bears. Now we have all joined together in an effort to bring championships to our fans in all three markets," added Mill. The Orlando Solar Bears begin play in the ECHL at the Amway Center in October, 2012.

Ticket plan information is available at: www.orlandosolarbearshockey.com. Full and partial season tickets plans range in price from $225-$1480 per season seat. Orlando Solar Bears merchandise can be purchased online at: http://shop.orlandosolarbearshockey.com/

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