The Minnesota Wild have reached an agreement to partner with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears as affiliates beginning in October.
Solar Bears partners Jason Siegel, Joe Haleski and Bob Ohrablo, as well as Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer and Wild assistant to the general manager Jim Mill announced the partnership Thursday in Orlando.
The Solar Bears will be new to the ECHL in 2012 but aren’t new to minor league hockey. The franchise competed in the IHL from 1995-2001 before folding when the league merged with the AHL.
“Central Florida has welcomed the Orlando Solar Bears back with open arms and we couldn’t think of a better atmosphere for our players to develop their skills in,” Mill said in a release. “We are excited to welcome Joe, Jason, Bob, and the Solar Bears fans into the Wild family.”
There were several reasons the Solar Bears chose to affiliate with the Wild.
“We want to win,” Solar Bears chief operating officer and managing partner Bob Ohrablo said in a release. “We strongly believe that affiliating with the Wild organization will provide us with a solid core of players from which we can build a competitive and exciting team for our fans.”
The Solar Bears will play at Amway Arena in Orlando, also home to the Orlando Magic.
“Houston (the Wild’s AHL affiliate) and Minnesota used to be competitors of the IHL Orlando Solar Bears. Now we have all joined together in an effort to bring championships to our fans in all three markets,” Mill said.