Curtis Murphy scored two goals and Norm Maracle made 18 saves as the Orlando Solar Bears beat the Chicago Wolves 5-1 to capture the IHL’s 56th and final Turner Cup championship.
Orlando, the top minor-league affiliate of the NHL Atlanta Thrashers, won the best-of-seven series 4-1 in the swan song for both the league and the Solar Bears.
Four IHL teams, including the runner-up Wolves, are expected to join the AHL next season and form a single developmental league for the top prospects of the NHL.
IHL TURNER CUP FINAL RECAP
Chicago Wolves 1
Orlando Solar Bears 5
Orlando wins Turner Cup Final 4 games to 1 game.
Ben Simon scored a pair of goals and Norm Maracle came within 1:16 of a shutout as the Orlando Solar Bears defeated the Chicago Wolves, 5-1, to win the 56th and final Turner Cup Championship.
Herbert Vasiljevs, who has been one of the main contributors to Orlando’s drive towards the Cup, scored the pivotal first goal of the game 8:40 into the first period off a feed from Wes Mason. It was Vasiljevs’ team-high eighth goal of the playoffs.
Simon quickly increased the Solar Bears’ lead to 2-0 2:02 later with a shorthanded goal while teammate Jarrod Skalde was serving a two-minte minor penalty for tripping.
In the second period, defenseman Todd Richards scored at 10:34 to put the Solar Bears ahead by three goals heading into what turned out to be the final period in league history.
Richards, who was instrumental in the Hartford Whalers’ near-upset of the favored Montreal Canadiens in the 1992 NHL playoffs, finished as the league’s leading scorer amongst defenseman in the postseason with 13 points.
The Solar Bears put the game away midway through the third period on goals by Curtis Murphy and Simon 3:04 apart, with Murphy’s tally coming on the power play.
Mason and Mark Beaufait each finished with a pair of assists for Orlando, which had nine power-play chances for the game compared to only four for Chicago.
Maracle was solid once again even though he faced only 11 shots after two periods. Kevin Dahl foiled his bid for a shutout by scoring with under two minutes left in the game.
In the postseason, Maracle appeared in every game and posted an impressive 12-4 record with a 2.21 goals-against average. For his efforts, the 26-year-old netminder was named the winner of the N.R. “Bud” Poile Trophy awarded to the MVP of the playoffs.
It was a bittersweet ending for Orlando, which won its first Turner Cup in franchise history but will eventually be moved into another league next season after the IHL announced it will cease operations after 56 years.
The Solar Bears names will be added to the 1,124 names previously inscribed on the Cup, including 960 players and 164 team executives. Head Coach Peter Horachek will be the 149th champion with his name on the cup twice, previously winning a title with the Flint Generals in 1984. The Turner Cup was first placed into competition in 1945 by the IHL’s board of governor’s. It has been awarded annually since the Detroit Auto Club won the first league championship on March 2, 1946.
TODAY IN HOCKEY
June 28, 1992 the Tampa Bay Lightning win a coin toss over the Ottawa Senators giving them the first pick in the NHL entry draft.
Stay tuned this week as we look back at the IHL’s history and look at prospects who went from the IHL to the NHL.