Estero, FL – The Florida Everblades nearly pulled off another odds-defying rally at home but came up less than a foot shy of forcing overtime before succumbing to the Orlando Solar Bears 5-3 Tuesday at Germain Arena.
Trailing 4-1 after two, the Blades sliced Orlando’s lead to 4-2 with 11:25 left in the third on the power play as Mike Merrifield got a net-front redirect of a Danick Gauthier shot for his third goal in four games.
Brandon MacLean pulled Florida within one at 4-3 with 3:57 to go in regulation, grabbing a centering pass from Kyle Bonis and twisting a low shot in past Orlando goalie Cody Reichard while falling to the ice to give the Blades a chance at tying it late.
That chance came on the stick of Tyson Gimblett, who powered through contact on the right wing with less than two minutes and volleyed a shot that went through Reichard’s legs and rolled toward the goal line before the Solar Bears’ defense snatched the would-be equalizer. Seconds later, Scott Tanski sealed the game with a 100-footer into an empty net to give the visiting Bears a 5-3 victory.
For the second time in as many visits to Southwest Florida, Orlando surged out to a 3-0 lead in the first as Connor Goggin, Taylor Matson and Blake Kessel scored in a five-minute span that chased starting Blades goalie Trevor Cann from the net after making just eight saves.
Florida pulled within two early in the second as a Bonis centering pass deflected to Trevor Bruess, who buried the loose puck with 15:59 remaining in the frame to cut it to 3-1 Orlando.
Newcomer Jake Hauswirth, however, dialed up a late response for the Bears, netting the eventual game-winner on a blistering slap shot in transition that beat Everblades relief goalie Connor Knapp over the blocker to boost Orlando to a 4-1 cushion after two.
Despite giving up just one goal on 15 shots, Knapp took the loss in net for the Blades; Cann did not figure in the final decision. Reichard, Knapp’s collegiate tandem partner, made 34 saves to defeat Florida for the second time this season.
The Blades continue their six-game home stand Friday when they host the fifth-place Gwinnett Gladiators at 7:30pm.
It will be Paint the Ice Night as the Blades host the Glads: kids—and the young at heart—are invited to stick around after the game and head down to ice level, where they will be able to paint their own designs onto the ice, resulting in a special canvas that the Everblades will play the Gladiators on the following night.
It is the first time fans will be able to personally design a portion of the playing surface for a game at Germain Arena.
Also during the weekend the Everblades will be wearing special Olympic-themed jerseys to celebrate the opening of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The uniforms were designed by kids at the Golisano Children’s Hospital; they will be auctioned live after Saturday’s game with the proceeds going to the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation.Tickets are now on sale at the Capital Bank Box Office, open Monday through Friday, 10:00am until 6:00pm.
Friday’s divisional dustup 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 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 Blades’ next home game on January 29.
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.