ESTERO, FL – The Everblades used six first period goals to defeat the Orlando Solar Bears 7-3 in front of announced crowd of 6,645 at Germain Arena Saturday night. The Everblades finish the week taking five of six standings points.
It took just 14 seconds for the Everblades to light the lamp. Maury Edwards held the puck in at the blue line, and directed a shot to the front of the Orlando net. Forward Brody Sutter redirected the puck past Solar Bear goaltender James Reid for the game’s first goal.
Leigh Salters made it 2-0 at 6:09 of the period, picking up a rebound at the top of the crease and sliding it by Reid for the goal.
Newcomer Matt Spiller who was signed earlier in the day netted the third goal in his Everblades debut. Spiller found himself with the puck along the goaline near the left wing corner. Spiller saw an opportunity and hurled the puck from the tough angle toward Reid and the puck found the back side of the net for the goal to extend the Florida lead to 3-0.
The goal signaled the end of the night for Reid who allowed three goals on 12 shots faced. Netminder Patrick Killeen came in relief of Reid for the remainder of the game.
The Everblades welcomed Killeen to the game with another goal. Mike Ratchuk fired a shot from the point toward the net which was tipped in front by Mike Merrifield who re-directed it into the net to extend the Florida to 4-0. The goal was the first for Merrifield in his professional career.
In the final minutes of regulation the Everblades tacked on two more goals. With 24 seconds remaining in the period, Spiller from the circle lobbed the puck toward the net in an attempt to feed it to Beau Schmitz. The puck rolled away, and went in on goal on the shortside post. Killeen attempted to make the save and was unable to cover the post and the puck trickled across the line for the ‘Blades fifth goal of the game.
Thirteen seconds later, Mathieu Roy streaked into the zone on the left wing, and unleashed a slapshot that beat Killeen cleanly to cap off the six-goal first period, and the 6-0 advantage after the first 20 minutes. Florida outshot the Solar Bears 18-5 in the first period.
Orlando responded in the second, and got on the board 29 seconds into the period. C.J. Severyn broke into the zone on breakaway change and wristed the puck past Everblades goaltender Rob Madore for the goal.
Halfway through the second, a shot by Severyn was stopped by Madore, but the puck bounced behind him in the crease, and an unguarded Matt Sisca batted the puck into the net for the second Orlando strike of the game to make it 6-2.
Nearly two minutes later, the Solar Bears went on the power play, and Alain Goulet let a snap shot fly which neat Madore cleanly and pulled his team with in three at the end of two periods.
Florida quelled all Orlando comeback hopes with its seventh goal of the game at 2:57. Ryan McGinnis fired a slapshot from the blue line which was stopped by Killeen. However the rebound bounced to his right and Ernie Hartlieb grinded his way to the net and shoved the rebound into the net to put the game at its eventual final score of 7-3.
Rob Madore earns the win stopping 18 of 21 shots faced, while Killeen ends up with the loss in a relief effort allowing four goals on 23 shots faced in the game.
The Everblades will have a few days off before hitting the road again to open up a four-game road swing beginning at South Carolina on Wednesday. Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 96 K-Rock (96.1 FM), or online at www.floridaeverblades.com
GAME NOTES: Prior to the game Alex Hutchings was recalled to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League…As a result the Everblades added Ernie Hartlieb and Matt Spiller. Spiller scored two goals and added an assist in his Everblades debut, while Hartlieb scored his first goal since March 25, 2010.
The ‘Blades next home game is Tuesday, February 19 against Gwinnett.
Ticket Information: The Capital Bank Box Office is open Monday thru Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Fans may also call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, or order online atwww.ticketmaster.com
Group discounts are also available, and can save fans up $8 off per ticket from the normal box office price. For more information on all available packages, call the Everblades office at 239-948-7825.