By Keaton Hanley
ESTERO, FL – Both Brant Harris (2g, 1a) and Stephen MacAulay (1g, 2a) finished with three-point nights to help guide the Florida Everblades (32-9-2-2, 68 pts) to a 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Gladiators (17-23-6-1, 41pts) Friday night at Germain Arena. The win was the fourth straight for the Everblades who now hold the top overall record in the ECHL.
The first period was filled with special teams opportunities for both sides. Atlanta was able to take advantage of a couple power play opportunities. Atlanta’s first power play goal came from their leading scorer, Justin Buzzeo as he was able to knock home a puck that made its way through Peters five hole off of a point shot.
The Blades answered just a little over a minute later on a goal of their own during a delayed penalty. Stephen MacAulay jammed the puck home on a rebound in front of the net after the ‘Blades moved the puck around for a lengthy amount of time on the delayed call.
Atlanta found the back of the net again at 8:36 to reclaim the lead, when Eric Neiley scored on the power play after picking up a rebound from the right side of the net, giving the Gladiators a 2-1 lead.
The Blades got intp penalty trouble again late in the period, but would score a goal of their own with 37.2 seconds left in the first on a nice tic-tac-toe play with MacAulay finding Brant Harris in the slot, who then slid it through Vladar’s five-hole to make it a tie game before heading into the first intermission.
The late period shorthanded goal for the Blades would swing the momentum in Florida’s favor in the second period of play. Matt Berry gave Florida its first lead of the night at 12:07. Berry received a pass in the left circle before making a spin move and wristing a shot perfectly into the upper left side of the net, right by Valdar’s blocker side.Harris extended the Blades lead to 4-2 at 6:59, as he scored on the power play from the bottom of the left circle when he fired a shot along the ice that deflected off Valdar’s skate and into the net.
Anthony Peters came up big late in the period, as the Blades found themselves on the penalty kill. Peters was able to bail them out with a full split save on a cross crease one timer from Atlanta.
The Gladiators came into the third down by two goals, looking to get back into the game. With tensions running high a line brawl broke out just a little over seven minutes into the period.
The Gladiators would get on the board again on an odd angle shot, that clipped past Peters on the short side making it a 4-3 game.
The Gladiators tried to establish an offensive zone presence late in the game, but were unable to gain possession as their goalie exited the ice for an extra attacker. However, Florida grabbed possession forcing Vladar to head back toward the net. Evan Bloodoff skated ahead and practically scored an empty net goal as Vladar valiantly tried to make a diving stick save, but to no avail. The goal capped off a 5-3 victory for the Everblades.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at Germain Arena for Pink in the Rink presented by Radiology Regional (promotional details listed below). Game time is set for 7:00 p.m.
Upcoming Home Games & Promotions
Saturday, February, 11 vs. Atlanta, 7:00 p.m. – Pink in the Rink night, present by Radiology Regional Center. The team will wear special pink jerseys which will be auctioned off following the game. First 1,000 fans will receive a free chip clip courtesy of Radiology Regional, and the first 3,000 fans will receive an Everblades flash light courtesy of Gerber Collision & Glass.
Wednesday, February, 15 vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m. – $2 Wednesday! Fans can enjoy $2 draft beers, $2 wines and $2 hot dogs all night long! College students receive a $5 ticket with free parking when they present their college ID at Germain Arena.Ticket Information
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.comSpecial 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. We offer several tickets packages designed to help fit your budget and schedule.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###