Estero, FL – The Florida Everblades chopped a four-goal deficit down to one in the third period Saturday, but a three-goal pushback by the Greenville Road Warriors in the final six minutes of regulation sealed an 8-4 defeat for the homestanding Blades at Germain Arena.
Dropped into a 5-1 hole in the final minute of the second period, the Blades started to dig their way out when Olivier Dame-Malka strode to the red line in the closing seconds of the frame and blasted a rising slap shot that Greenville goalie Scott Stacjer deflected 20 feet into the air; the puck landed behind Stacjer and trickled into the net with 1.5 seconds showing on the clock, cutting it to a 5-2 score heading into the second intermission.
Matthew Pistilli helped Florida pound away at the Greenville lead, bringing the home side within 5-3 with 5:02 gone in the third, taking a crossing pass from Kellan Tochkin and ripping it off the far post and in for his 16th goal of the season.
Blades captain Mathieu Roy made it a one-goal game with 11:19 left in regulation, chipping in a centering pass from Tony DeHart, bringing the Germain Arena crowd to its feet as the Blades sliced the Warriors’ edge to 5-4.
As Florida pressed for the equalizer, Greenville counter-punched in transition when Road Warrior captain Sean Berkstresser redirected a centering pass from Josh Nicholls over the blocker of Blades netminder Trevor Cann to push the lead to 6-4 with 5:35 to go in the game.
Just 37 seconds later, Greenville big man Justin Vaive wrapped up a hat trick, burying his own rebound to put the game out of reach at 7-4. Former Everblade Brayden Irwin tacked on an empty-netter for the final margin of 8-4.
Greenville raced out of the gates early as Michael St. Croix, Vaive and Marc-Olivier Vallerand all tallied to set the visitors in front 3-0 after one.
DeHart gave Florida a glimmer of hope 7:50 into the second, snapping home a Mike Merrifield rebound on the penalty kill for his first goal to get the Blades on the board at 3-1.
Vaive and St. Croix answered right back for the Warriors, scoring in a 5:05 span to push Greenville ahead 5-1 before the Blades started their comeback attempt.
Cann made 18 saves but suffered his second consecutive loss in net; Stacjer denied 31 efforts by the Blades to improve to .500 at 3-3-0-0 for Greenville.
The Blades now adjourn for Christmas break before heading back out on the road to take on the Orlando Solar Bears on December 28 at the Amway Center at 7:00pm.
Next Saturday’s intrastate matchup will be broadcast live online at FloridaEverblades.com and on the Everblades’ app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, with a video webcast available through America ONE, the official broadband and mobile broadcaster of the ECHL, at www.americaonesports.com. Pregame coverage will get under way at 6:45pm.
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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 Blades’ next home game on January 10.
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.