JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ben Masella posted two goals and four points, and the Florida Everblades scored five unanswered goals to take a 3-2 series lead with a 5-1 win over the Jacksonville Icemen on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Arena.
On the heels of consecutive losses, Florida limited Jacksonville to only 15 shots on goal and scored four times in the third period in its final road game of the South Division Semifinal series.
Jacksonville started the scoring with the lone goal of the opening period. Cam Maclise slid a pass that found its way to Jake Randolph at the back post. Randolph managed to catch a piece of the puck to tap it past Florida goaltender Callum Booth with 2:47 left in the first period.
Florida bounced back to tie the game on its first goal in the second period in the series. Sam Warning jetted to a loose puck at center ice and carried it into the offensive zone. As he crossed the blue line, Warning left a drop pass with Masella who promptly hammered the feed over the glove of Jacksonville goaltender Ken Appleby with 5:37 to play in the second.
A quick start in the third period then helped propel the ‘Blades ahead for good. Blake Winiecki slammed in a cross-crease feed from Justin Auger only one minute, 15 seconds into the final frame, a goal that held up as the game-winning strike. Less than 90 seconds later, Grant Arnold wired a one-time pass from Matt Finn over the blocker of Appleby to extend Florida’s lead to two.
Winiecki potted his second of the period to give the Everblades a three-goal cushion at the 8:33 mark of the third stanza. John McCarron led Florida on a two-on-one rush into the zone and tapped a feed to the left circle for Winiecki. The rookie forward slapped the puck into a nearly wide-open goal to give the Everblades a 4-1 lead.
Masella capped his four-point night with a full-length, empty-net goal with 5:20 to play in the game. The second-year defenseman has registered at least one point in each game of the series.
Florida now returns home with a chance to close out the series on Monday night at Hertz Arena. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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