The Orlando Solar Bears continue to prove they are not afraid to go back in time and reunite with some top tier former Bears. On Thursday December 3rd, the Solar Bears announced the return of veteran forward Erik Bradford. The two sides agreed to terms on a standard player contract for the upcoming season.
Bradford returns to the team where his professional career began in 2015. He does so after spending last season with the Brampton Beast back in his home province of Ontario. In 54 games with the Beast last year, Bradford recorded 18 goals along with 35 assists which made for 53 points. As well, he tallied 30 penalty minutes. Bradford also saw a brief stint with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League. There, he played one game with one goal.
The Canadian played with Orlando while on loan from the Marlies in 2015-16. During his rookie year, he recorded 10 goals along with 22 assists which made for 32 points. He also added 28 penalty minutes. During that stint with the hockey club, Bradford also set a rookie record by recording a point in 10 consecutive contests. Bradford did that with three goals and seven assists.
In 286 games, which he split with Orlando, Utah, Brampton, Norfolk and Toledo, Bradford scored 73 goals and 163 assists, amassing 236 points. Through his past five years in the league, Bradford’s points total of 236 ranks the centreman 11th during that time frame. His assists total of 163 places in sixth across the league in that category.
In four career games with the Marlies, the Orangeville native adds another two goals. In addition to the signing of Bradford, Orlando has released a pair of forwards in Alex Gilmour, Isaiah Crawford, Ethan Skinner and J.M. Piotrowski.
Just days following the returns of Peter Abbandonato, Garrett Sparks and Clint Windsor, the Solar Bears continue this pattern, having added another former star to their roster. Orlando’s offence appears easily prepared to eclipse the output from 2019-20, along with their superb trio when it comes to goaltending. Both areas have the hockey club poised to make some noise on the ice in one week’s time in Estero.