Written by Robby Llewellyn
ESTERO, FL - The Florida Everblades (26-8-1-2, 55 pts) defeated the Orlando Solar Bears (20-14-4-2, 46 pts) Friday night at Germain Arena in a Wawa Sunshine Cup Series match-up. The ‘Blades won handily by a score of 7-2 and remain at the top of the ECHL’s Eastern Conference standings. The first star of the game was Michael Kirkpatrick who had three points (1G, 2A,+4).
The message headed into Friday night’s game was clear from Head Coach Brad Ralph, pick up the physical play coming off of the all-star break and get the puck to the net. The player’s responded well because from the moment the puck was dropped there were bodies flying everywhere and the ’Blades, donning their green jerseys, had multiple hits on Solar Bears players early on.
Around the midway point of the first period the ‘Blades ran into some penalty trouble going short-handed on consecutive tripping penalties stemming from their aggressive play. Penalty-killing hasn’t been the team’s strong suit this year, but after dumping the puck out of the zone numerous times the ‘Blades were back on the attack and were able to find plenty of time and space in the Orlando zone
The Everblades struck first on the power play at the 11:43 mark of the first period on a strong one-timed shot from defenseman Josh Wesley that beat Solar Bears goaltender Kasmir Kaskisuo’s over his outstretched glove hand. This was good news for the Everblades who this season has an 85% chance of winning when they score the first goal.
Nearing the end of the first period the ‘Blades flipped the switch from physical play to speed and quickness through the neutral zones, a style they prefer.
First-year ‘Blades forward Michael Kirkpatrick managed to get loose in a one-on-one situation and displayed some sweet moves when he used a spin-o-rama to get past a Solar Bears defender and take a quick shot on net. The puck didn't cross the line but it sat behind the goalie unnoticed by Orlando for a few seconds before being cleared away by a defender.
Just over a minute passed before the Everblades struck again in similar fashion when Brant Harris rocked a shot from the top of the circle. The play was set up when the puck was shoveled in deep assisted by defensive partners Golightly and Kugali.
The ‘Blades refused to let off the gas in the second period when they added a third tally on a wraparound attempt by Dalton Smith and then another on a one-timer by Matt Berry set up by a beautiful pass across the slot by Michael Kirkpatrick to put the score a 4-0.
The Wawa Sunshine Cup Series has always bred tough competition and this game wasn’t going to be any different. Halfway through the second period Orlando forward Patrick Watling scored on a breakaway goal that nearly faked ‘Blades goalie Anthony Peters out of his skates to put the Solar Bears on the board 4-1. Moments later, Chase Witala hurled a puck from the slot that clipped past Peters to pull the Solar Bears within two.
A fifth goal by Michael Ferrantino on the power play would give the Everblades a 5-2 lead into the locker room at the end of the second period. This is good news for the ‘Blades who are 17-1-0 this season when leading after two periods of play.
Action resumed in the third with the Everblades adding on to their already impressive lead over Orlando with two more goals coming from Kirkpatrick and O’Donnell cementing their win over the Solar Bears.
Forward Brendan O’Donnell’s third-period goal extended his home scoring streak to 11 games in a row totaling 17 points. The Solar Bears would use two goalies in tonight's contest but Anthony Peters earned the win in net backstopping the ‘Blades 7-2 victory. Peters had another strong outing making 36 of 38 saves.
The Everblades will be back in action tomorrow night when they take on the Solar Bears at the Amway Center in Orlando at 7 p.m.Upcoming Home Games & PromotionsWednesday, January 25 vs. Allen, 7:30 p.m. – $2 Wednesdays! $2 Beers, Wines & Hot Dogs all night long! Wednesday's are also College Night. College students receive a $5 ticket w/ free parking when they present their College ID at Germain Arena. Wednesday's game marks the first ever meeting between the two clubs!
Wednesday, February 1 vs. Greenville, 7:30 p.m. – Yet another $2 Wednesday! $2 Beers, Wines & Hot Dogs all night long! College students receive a $5 ticket w/ free parking when they present their College ID at Germain Arena.
Game Tickets: Everblades tickets may be purchased at the Florida Community Bank Box Office located at Germain Arena, or at any Ticketmaster outlet, or online atwww.ticketmaster.com2016-17 Season Ticket Plans Now Available! Full and flexible partial season ticket plans are currently available for the 2016-17 season. We offer several tickets packages designed to help fit your budget and schedule.
Special Offer! Purchase any new ticket package for the 2016-17 season, and receive an Everblades jersey t-shirt and a $20 gift card from Ford's Garage! Locations include Cape Coral, Downtown Fort Myers and Miromar Outlets in Estero.
Discounted Group Tickets: Bring your group of 10 or more to a game at a discounted price, and you may also receive an Everblades souvenir! Group tickets are available for all home games. For more information on group tickets, call 239-948-7825.This release courtesy of Fort Myers Technical College & Cape Coral Technical College
The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliateof the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes###