Orlando Solar Bears keeping Orlando’s playoff hopes alive

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 13: Eric Baier #7 of Orlando Solar Bears skates out onto the ice prior to the game against the Atlanta Gladiators at the Amway Center on February 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 13: Eric Baier #7 of Orlando Solar Bears skates out onto the ice prior to the game against the Atlanta Gladiators at the Amway Center on February 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Solar Bears will keep the playoff party going at the Amway Center this week. A Game 1 victory brings home ice to Orlando this week.

The “Blue and White Ignite” banners around Downtown Orlando and the giant decal plastered across the glass facade of the Disney Atrium at the Amway Center have come down.

The Orlando Magic failed to deliver a home playoff win in front of a raucous crowd and that is a big reason why they came home in a quick five games. That part was certainly a disappointing way to end a fantastic season that rekindled the city’s energy for the team. It was cool to be a Magic fan again and there are big expectations ahead for this group as they continue to develop and grow.

It is easy to be optimistic about the Magic these days — even with a lot of questions about how the team will get constructed in the future.

The playoffs, though, are not done in Orlando. Not by a long shot.

And Friday’s result should pique the interest of Orlando sports fans looking to direct their energy toward a championship run.

The Orlando Solar Bears returned to the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Playoff South Division Finals to take on their bitter rivals, the Florida Everblades. They made quick work of the South Carolina Stingrays in the first round, winning in five games after dropping Game 1. They would have their work cut out for them on the road to start the series.

Like the Magic in the first round of their playoff series, the Solar Bears made it known they would have a say in this series. Unlike the Magic, the Solar Bears have a real chance to win it outright.

Colby McAuley scored 55 seconds into overtime on a tough angle shot that banked in off the goalie’s pads and into the back of the net to deliver Orlando a 2-1 win over Florida in Game 1 of their series.

It completed a come-from-behind effort in the third period as Hunter Fejes scored midway through the third period to even the game at one apiece.  It was a classic playoff battle between two rivals with plenty of defense and rough play.

The two teams went at it throughout the season splitting their games with identical 6-3-2-1 records against each other. This series will be a battle.

And Orlando now has home ice. Game 2 is in Estero (near Naples and Fort Myers) on Saturday. But then the series will shift to the Amway Center for a trio of playoff games — Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The win in Game 1 certainly set a big tone for the Solar Bears. And the playoffs have not left Orlando quite yet.

Seeing how the Solar Bears played against the Everblades and how they finished the regular season — seven wins in their last 10 games — this is a team that has big ambitions for the playoffs. They have never been to the Eastern Conference Finals in the Kelly Cup Playoffs and have gotten a major step closer.

The Solar Bears would love a rocking Amway Center this week to push them to that new height.

Magic Gaming picks up first wins of the season

Magic Gaming had an impressive showing in The Tip-Off Tournament to start the NBA 2K League season but struggled in their first two games since the regular season started. That changed after a needed bye week last week as they picked up two wins in this week’s action to level their record at 2-2.

The team defeated defending champion Knicks Gaming and T-Wolves Gaming to notch their first two wins this season.

The group has shown tons of defensive potential early on in the season as they try to find their way together for a playoff push after falling just short last year.

Their game against Knicks Gaming earlier this week ended on a game-winning block from Daniel “DT” Tlais after he hit a layup with 12 seconds to play.

Magic Gaming was always a team that favored balance over any one star taking over. They want to be a team with six good players working together to take advantage of any matchup.

They have had to do this while handing the ball to Branden “Reizy” Hill. His player is a shooting guard by archetype but is running the point. He has taken to that role and quickly started piling up assists and points. As he gets comfortable the rest of the team will too.

Then relying on the inside play from DT and Cameron “KingCamRoyalty” Ford will bolster the team. They have been solid on the glass through the early part of the season. That will be central to this team’s identity.

But it is still early in the season. They are still working to find their way and find out who they are under new coach Jonah Edwards. The hard work is paying off, but the results will come on the court and in the games.

Next. Orlando Magic's playoff push all about Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon. dark

Things are off to a better start after this week’s games.