Estero, FL – Despite never trailing in the game, the Florida Everblades saw their six-game season-opening win streak go by the boards Friday as the Orlando Solar Bears tipped the South-leading Blades 3-2 in a shootout at Germain Arena.
Florida raced out to a quick lead a mere 1:42 into the game when Mike Merrifield collected his second goal of the season, redirecting an Austin Levi shot through the legs of Orlando goalie John Curry and in.
Solar Bears forward Ian Slater evened the score for Orlando at the 10:46 mark, racing behind the Blades’ defense and firing a low shot that deflected in off Everblades netminder Jesse Deckert.
Kellan Tochkin pulled the home side back ahead at 2-1 with 9:16 to go in the second, grabbing a faceoff win by Merrifield and lining a low backhander through traffic and past Curry for his first goal in an Everblades jersey.
That lead would hold up until 4:29 into the third when a defensive lapse at the Florida blue line led to a short breakaway for Andrew Johnston, who cashed in a rising backhander over Deckert’s glove to knot the game at two.
Deckert and Curry took over from there, combining for 11 saves in the third—including highlight reel glove saves from each—to force overtime.
When no winner was decided in an even extra frame, the game went to the decisive shootout.
Though Deckert made back-to-back denials of Mike Ullrich and Jacob Lagace after a Matthew Sisca goal in the shootout, the Blades only got one goal in five shooters (Jordan Henry) while Johnston converted for the Solar Bears for the shootout-winning strike.
Despite a season-high 29 saves for Deckert, the Blades’ rookie goalie slipped to 4-0-0-1 on the young season; Curry locked down 34 of 36 shots to improve to 2-1-0-0 for the Solar Bears.
The two sides will reconvene Saturday for the conclusion of the weekend home-and-home series at the Amway Center at 7:00pm.
Saturday’s rematch will be broadcast locally on FOX Sports Radio 1350 AM and worldwide online on America ONE, the internet television provider for the ECHL, at www.americaonesports.com. Pregame coverage will get under way at 6:45pm.
2013-14 Season Ticket Package Information
Ticket packages for the 2013-14 season are currently on sale—and going fast! Full season packages begin at $380, while 10 and 20 game packages start as low as $160. Sign-up for a new season ticket package today, and receive a $20 gift card per seat to Outback Steakhouse!
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.