The Orlando Solar Bears has ceased business operations, RDV Sports COO John Weisbrod announced today.
The Solar Bears became a member of the International Hockey League in December of 1994. Since beginning play in 1995-96, Orlando compiled an all-time regular season record of 286-162-44 (.626), the best mark in the IHL during that time frame.
In six seasons, the Solar Bears captured one division title (1995-96 Central Division), three Eastern Conference crowns (1996, 1999, 2001) and the 2001 Turner Cup championship. Orlando also advanced to the IHL Playoffs every year. The International Hockey League, which was founded in 1945, ceased operations on June 4, 2001.
The Solar Bears completed a historic 2000-01 season by defeating Chicago, 4-1, to capture its first Turner Cup championship. Orlando picked up numerous postseason accolades along the way. Goaltender Norm Maracle was named IHL Most Valuable Player during the regular season and playoffs, defenseman Brian Pothier earned both the IHL’s Rookie of the Year and U.S.-born Rookie of the Year awards, while Peter Horachek picked up the IHL Coach of the Year.
Other Solar Bears highlights have included: becoming the first Eastern Conference expansion team to reach the Turner Cup Finals (1996), posting a 16-game winning streak in 1996-97 (the third-longest winning streak in professional hockey history), and becoming the first and only team in IHL history to win a seven-game playoff series after overcoming a 3-0 deficit (1999 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Detroit).
Following Monday’s announcement from the International Hockey League ceasing operations, the Detroit Vipers will not return next season. “We know that this was a very difficult decision for the IHL to make,” said PS&E President and CEO Tom Wilson. “With the tremendous history and success of the IHL, it is unfortunate that it had to come to an end.”
The Vipers produced an overall record of 295-218-60. When the Vipers entered the IHL in 1994, they immediately made an impact, shattering previous IHL attendance marks. In their first season, over 584,000 fans (14,263 average) saw the Vipers in action at The Palace. In each of the first five seasons, the Vipers surpassed the 100-point plateau, and reached the IHL Turner Cup playoffs. The IHL franchise’s greatest accomplishment came when the Vipers defeated the Long Beach Ice Dogs for the Turner Cup in 1997.
On March 25, 1957 the Cincinnati Mohawks capture an IHL record fifth consecutive Turner Cup, sweeping the Indianapolis Chiefs in a best-of-five series.
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