ESTERO, Fla. — The script remained almost the same, but Florida Everblades forward Tommy Thompson helped write a different ending for Game 2 of the South Division Finals.
After an overtime loss to the Orlando Solar Bears on Friday in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series, Florida bounced back to win 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night thanks to Thompson’s fifth career overtime goal that came 12 minutes, eight seconds into the first extra session at Hertz Arena, evening the series at one win apiece.
Thompson, who was sprung ahead by a perfect pass from defenseman Patrick McCarron in the ‘Blades defensive zone, dashed into the Solar Bears end and ripped a hard wrist shot under Orlando goaltender Connor Ingram’s glove to end the game.
But it was Florida goaltender Callum Booth who stole the show in the game. The second-year pro finished with a career-best 41 saves to earn his third win in four playoff starts. Booth turned aside 24 shots in the final 40 minutes of regulation to help get the game to the extra session.
Ben Masella started the scoring for Florida with 4:14 left in the opening period, the only tally in the first period in the series so far. Following a faceoff win by Kyle Platzer, Masella gathered the puck at the top of the left circle and snuck a shot under Ingram’s glove hand to push the ‘Blades ahead. Masella’s three goals and nine points lead all ECHL defensemen in the postseason.
Blake Winiecki added to Florida’s lead with his sixth goal of the postseason, a power-play strike that came only 57 seconds into period two. Winiecki was in the right place at the right time—he collected a rebound from Matt Finn’s slapshot and punched it past Ingram from the low slot.
Booth was huge for the ‘Blades in the second period, coming up with 16 saves in the frame. His most impressive sequence of the period was a 90-second span during a ‘Blades penalty kill around the halfway mark of the frame that saw him turn out four shots.
The Solar Bears finally got on the board at 6:03 of the third on a deflection from Chris Leblanc. Kevin Lohan got the puck at the right point and fired a shot that LeBlanc managed to catch a piece of and deflect past Booth.
The Solar Bears then tied the game at two with 9:24 left in regulation. Alex Schoenborn cut to the inside around a diving Patrick McCarron and sent a pass to Brent Pedersen all alone at the back post for a tap-in tally.
After being outshot in the final two periods of regulation, the Everblades had a 9-4 edge in shots on goal in overtime en route to the victory.
Ingram stopped 29 shots in his first loss since Game 1 of the South Division Semifinals against South Carolina.
The series with the Solar Bears now transitions to Orlando for Games 3, 4 and 5. Game 3 is on Tuesday and will get underway at 7 p.m. at the Amway Center.
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