Estero, FL – Smarting from consecutive losses to their in-state rivals, the Florida Everblades took out their frustrations on the Orlando Solar Bears Saturday, whitewashing the Bears 6-0 in front of a raucous crowd of 5,284 at Germain Arena.
Top-scoring forward Matthew Pistilli kick-started the Blades’ offense 3:19 into Saturday’s game, splitting the defense and ripping a low shot under the glove of Orlando goalie Garret Sparks to boost the home side to a quick 1-0 advantage.
Rookie Rocco Carzo doubled Florida’s lead to 2-0 with 4:53 left in the opening frame, blasting home a Mike Merrifield rebound for his fifth goal of the season.
Tempers boiled over at the end of the first when a scrap between Brandon MacLean and Jacob Lagace turned into a melee as Orlando’s David Rutherford jumped in as the third man, drawing all 10 skaters on the ice into the turmoil near the Everblades’ bench. MacLean and Rutherford were assessed game misconducts while 36 total penalty minutes were doled out for the donnybrook.
Mathieu Roy kept the scoring going for the Blades in the second when the Florida captain grabbed a Mike Little rebound on the power play and slammed it home, extending the edge to 3-0 with 12:38 left in the middle frame.
Blades goalie Kristers Gudlevskis pitched in on the back end to hold the lead at 3-0 in the second, making a pair of stops on shorthanded breakaways by Lagace and Scott Tanski.
Blueliner Joe Stejskal tallied the Everblades’ second straight power play goal exactly nine minutes later, collecting a clear-in from Carzo and zipping a low liner through traffic, beating Sparks five-hole to push the score to 4-0. Gudlevskis was credited with the secondary assist, his first professional point.
The scoring parade continued for Florida 2:15 into the third on a 3-on-3 rush when Carzo made a drop pass to Merrifield, who scorched a one-timer over Sparks’ blocker, padding the lead to 5-0.
Roy put a cap on the Everblades’ six-goal explosion with 58 seconds left in regulation, netting his second—and Florida’s third—power play goal of the night on a point-blank redirect of an Austin Levi shot for the final 6-0 margin.
Special teams keyed the night for the Blades: the power play was an impressive 3-for-5 while the penalty kill negated all five Solar Bear power plays Saturday.
Gudlevskis turned in 22 saves—including 12 in the third period—for his second shutout of 2013-14. Sparks took his first loss on 23 stops.
With the brief two-game home stand now in the rearview, the Blades will strike out on a three-game, four-night Thanksgiving road trip that starts Wednesday in western Michigan with a 7:00pm date with the surging Kalamazoo Wings, who have won four straight contests.
Wednesday’s pre-holiday interdivision tilt will be broadcast locally on 98.1 FM The Island and worldwide online on America ONE, the official broadband and mobile broadcaster of the ECHL, at www.americaonesports.com. Pregame coverage will get under way at 7:15pm.
Beat the Box Office!
Don’t want to pay the box office rate for Everblades tickets? You don’t have to! Save up to $7.00 per ticket with great 10 and 20-game flex plans and group rates for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign. Lock in your flex plan or group seats now for the IBERIABANK Teddy Bear Toss on December 7.
For more information call 239-948-7825, or stop by the Everblades main office located at Germain Arena.
Office hours are Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning.###