The Orlando Solar Bears have announced the hiring of the fifth head coach in the franchise’s history, Matt Carkner.

The announcement was made by team president, Chris Heller, earlier today, ahead of a press conference taking place on Tuesday, June 21, at Amway Center.

“We would like to welcome Matt and his family to the Orlando Solar Bears. Over the last several seasons, Matt has emerged as an up-and-coming coach in the American Hockey League who is able to effectively communicate with today’s generation of young players and aid in their development.” 


Carkner comes to the role following five seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers where he oversaw the team’s defensive zone schemes and the penalty-killing unit, as well as individual player skill development, video pre-scouting, and analytics. Carkner is credited with the development of current NHL defensemen including Sebastian Aho, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews.

Carkner enjoyed a 15-year pro career in the National Hockey League with San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, and the New York Islanders where he played 237 games, scored 27 points, and served 556 penalty minutes and he was a second-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 1999 and played four seasons of major junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League with the Peterborough Petes before turning pro.

In addition to coaching the Solar Bears, Carkner will be responsible for overseeing the club’s hockey operations – including managing support staff, recruiting and signing players and coordinating with both the Tampa Bay Lightning and AHL’s Syracuse Crunch as the coach of Tampa Bay’s ECHL affiliate – and supporting the local youth hockey initiatives of the Solar Bears. 

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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