DULUTH, Ga. — The Florida Everblades erupted for six goals in the second period to earn a series sweep of the Atlanta Gladiators with an 8-3 win on Sunday afternoon at Infinite Energy Arena.
Joe Cox notched his second straight multi-point game, matching his career-high with four points, and the Everblades (7-5-2-0, 16 pts.) established new season-highs for goals in a period and a game in the 15th straight regular-season win over Atlanta (4-8-2-0, 10 pts.).
The Gladiators started the scoring as Justin MacDonald gave Atlanta its first lead of the series with his second goal in as many days just 1:32 into the first. Garret Ross slipped through the left circle and fed the puck to MacDonald at the right side of the net. MacDonald slapped it past Florida goaltender Jeremy Helvig to push Atlanta ahead, 1-0.
After going scoreless in the first period, Florida scored twice in the first five minutes of the second period to take a lead it didn’t relinquish. Zach Nastasiuk started the ‘Blades six-goal avalanche in the middle frame with his third of the season, collecting a puck at the left side of the net and spinning it past Atlanta goaltender Colton Phinney.
Blake Winiecki then gave Florida the lead for good with his first professional goal. On a feed from behind the net by Kyle Platzer, Winiecki beat Phinney from the slot to make it 2-1 at the 4:41 mark of period two.
Cox netted the first of his two consecutive goals to push the lead to 3-1. The alternate captain raced to a loose puck in the neutral zone and then slid a forehand shot past Phinney on the ensuing breakaway seven minutes, 30 seconds into the second.
Off a feed from the left goal line from Nastasiuk, Cox hammered a blast over Phinney’s outstretched glove for his second goal, a power-play tally, at the 13:03 mark of the middle stanza to increase the Everblades’ advantage to three.
Just 57 seconds later, Jordon Southorn ripped a shot from the left point to up Florida’s lead to 5-1.
Tommy Thompson finished the scoring in the second, receiving a breakout feed from the neutral zone from Mike Neville and snapping a shot past Phinney from the slot.
The two teams then traded goals in the third period, with Florida responding within 30 seconds of both Atlanta goals to ensure the win. After Derek Nesbitt scored 1:37 into the third, Winiecki found the back of the net just seven seconds later on a 2-on-1 rush to reinstate Florida’s five-goal lead.
Ben Danford struck on the power play to cut the Everblades’ lead to 7-3, but Kyle Platzer netted his fourth of the season only 22 seconds later for the final goal of the night.
Florida had six different players post a multi-point game in the win, including Cox (2g, 2a), Southorn (1g, 2a), Winiecki (2g), Nastasiuk (1g, 1a), Platzer (1g, 1a), and Derek Sheppard (2a).
Helvig made a career-high 37 saves to earn his second win of the season, while Phinney stopped 27 in the loss.
The Everblades now make the trek to Norfolk, Virginia, to continue their season-long 13-day, seven-game road trip. Florida has Monday and Tuesday off before playing three times in four days to finish the week.
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The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes