Orlando Solar Bears prepare to hit the ice for opening night

Bears play Atlanta Gladiators at Amway Center Saturday

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Solar Bears announced their season-opening roster ahead of their seventh season of play in the ECHL, which is set to begin this weekend.

"We have a young team that's hungry. We've never played in front of a crowd like we're gonna have, so I think there's gonna be a lot of excitement," head coach and general manager Drake Berehowsky said.

Back for his second season with the Solar Bears is defenseman Nolan Valleau.

"Val is a great player. He works hard. He leads along the ice. We were thrilled when we were able to sign him again," Berehowsky said. 

Valleau, a Michigan-native, said he's looking forward to spending another year with the team. He hopes the fans are excited, too.

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"I'm excited. I know the whole team is excited to finally play some real games and get out there, especially at home," Valleau said.

Aside from winning, Valleau said the team wants to show what their coach has taught them.

"Playing the right way, a lot of systematic stuff, so hopefully all of that falls into place," Valleau said.

The 25-year-old is back after having a memorable last season and hopes the team continues to shine on the ice.

"We had a really good year last year and we made a good push during playoffs, and I think we only got better," Valleau said.

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Last season, Valleau also won the hardest shot competition at 97 mph during the CCM/ECHL All Star Classic in Indianapolis.

"It was a cool event that the league put on. I just got lucky," said the player, who learned how to hit a puck at 3 years old. 

On Saturday night, the puck will drop against the Atlanta Gladiators as the Orlando Solar Bears open their new season. Click here for ticket information.

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