Estero, FL – A four-goal outburst in the second did not prove to be enough offense Friday as the Florida Everblades dropped a 6-5 heartbreaker in overtime to the Gwinnett Gladiators at Germain Arena.
After a Brendan Walker goal late in the first period posted the Glads to a 1-0 lead through one, the Blades pulled even just 57 seconds into the middle frame as a Jordan Henry slap shot pinballed through traffic and in on the power play.
The game would remain for over 11 more minutes before a stroke of good luck lifted the Blades to a 2-1 advantage when a Philip-Michael Devos centering pass deflected off a Gwinnett defender and in with 7:28 remaining in the second.
That lead would double to two at 3-1 just 63 seconds later as Kyle Bonis stuffed home a Rocco Carzo rebound for his league-rookie-best 16th goal of the season.
With 2:29 to go in the second stanza, Brandon MacLean stretched the Florida advantage to 4-1 on a shorthanded breakaway, cashing in a sky-high stretch pass from Trevor Bruess through the legs of Gladiator goalie Mathieu Corbeil.
On that same power play, though, Gwinnett seized the momentum as Bobby Hughes tapped in a Rob Kwiet rebound to cut the score to 4-2 just 30 seconds after MacLean’s shorty.
Gwinnett pulled within one at 4-3 1:20 into the third as Casey Pierro-Zabotel rocketed a transition slap shot over the glove of Blades netminder Connor Knapp.
A giveaway on the power play by the Blades turned into a breakaway for Gladiator winger Evan Bloodoff, who flipped a wrister off the cross-bar and in past Knapp, tying the game at four with a full 15:06 to go in regulation.
Henry netted his second power play goal of the night with 10:11 remaining in the third, blasting another slap shot that beat Corbeil glove side for a 5-4 Everblades lead.
The Blades could not escape regulation, however, as a defensive zone turnover led to a one-timer goal for Marshall Everson with 3:26 to go in the third, eventually forcing overtime.
In bonus hockey, Daniel Spivak stunned the Blades with a slap shot through traffic that beat Knapp glove side, delivering the visiting Gladiators a 6-5 win in OT.
Knapp suffered the overtime loss in net for the Blades on 18 stops. Corbeil surrendered five goals on 33 attempts but earned the win for Gwinnett.
Florida will go for the series split Saturday when the two sides reconvene for a 7:00pm rematch at Germain Arena.
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.
Saturday’s grudge match 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.
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 February 8.
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.