ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Solar Bears have entered into a three-year affiliation agreement with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL, officials said.
Steve Yzerman, Lightning vice president and general manager, said the Solar Bears will serve as the Lightning’s primary ECHL affiliate starting with the 2018-19 season.
“We are extremely happy to welcome the Orlando Solar Bears into the Lightning organization,” Yzerman said. “The Solar Bears organization has demonstrated a strong commitment to success that has paid off with numerous playoff appearances. We look forward to being a part of their future accomplishments while also developing our prospects in a world-class environment.”
“We are incredibly excited for this new partnership affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning,” said Alex Martins, CEO of the Orlando Magic, which owns the Solar Bears. “The Lightning is a first-class organization with tremendous values and vision and we feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to be a part of their hockey family.”
“We are thrilled to be able to announce our new affiliation with the Lightning,” Solar Bears President Chris Heller said. “This relationship will not only aid in our on-ice performance, but will also help strengthen the profile of ice hockey throughout Central Florida.”
The Lightning will play a preseason game against the Florida Panthers at Amway Center in Orlando on Sept. 27.
The Solar Bears are members of the ECHL, the premier “AA” hockey league in North America, and have qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs in four of six seasons.