For the ECHL, and the trickle down process from the NHL through the AHL, there’s a long way to go before rosters are secured for the 2014-15 season. The Orlando Solar Bears look to have hooked two Ontario Hockey League grads for the upcoming campaign. One, Ben Shutron, is fresh off a five year stint with the University of New Brunswick and must be anxious to finally play his first pro hockey game at the age of 26. The other, Scott Tanski, has been with Orlando since the team entered the ECHL for the 2012-13 season.
Shutron played five years in the OHL from 2004-05 to 2008-09 with the Kingston Frontenacs, Kitchener Rangers and Windsor Spitfires. At the 2004 OHL Priority Selection, Ben was the ninth overall pick, going to the Frontenacs. He was traded by Kingston to the Rangers 13 games into the 2007-08 season and helped the team to a Robertson Cup championship. The following year, Shutron was captain of the Rangers until another trade sent him to the Windsor Spitifires at the deadline. Once again, Ben was a member of the Robertson Cup champions.
The Chicago Blackhawks selected Shutron in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 95th overall. Instead of turning pro, he took advantage of the CHL scholarship program and played for the University of New Brunswick from 2009-10 to 2013-14. Shutron has signed with the Solar Bears for the 2014-15 season.
Tanski played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2007-08 to 2010-11, all with the Brampton Battalion. Scott was a lowly 12th round pick by Brampton at the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, 237th overall. Tanski and Shutron went head to head in the 2008-09 Robertson Cup finals.
Undrafted to the National Hockey League, Tanski has played pro hocke since 2011-12 in the AHL and ECHL. His first season was spent in the American Hockey League with the Connecticut Whale. The Orlando Solar Bears entered the ECHL for the 2011-12 season and Scott has been with the club since day 1. Consequently, Tanski is the team’s all-time leader in games played. Scott is signed through the 2014-15 season.
Orlando Solar Bears
Orlando entered the ECHL as an expansion franchise for the 2012-13 season. The team plays home games at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, a 17,200 seat venue that opened in 2010. The Solar Bears are affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota Wild in the NHL, along with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and Toronto Marlies.
In 2013-14, Orlando placed fourth in the 13 team Eastern Conference. In their first ever Kelly Cup playoff series, the Solar Bears fell in the opening round to the Cincinnati Cylcones in six games.
A franchise also called the Orlando Solar Bears played in the IHL from 1995-96 to 2000-01. That version of the Solar Bears were crowned Turner Cup champions in their final season.