By Keaton Hanley
ESTERO, FL – Brendan O’Donnell scored twice while, Brant Harris posted a four-point night as the Florida Everblades (37-12-2-3, 79 pts) defeated the Atlanta Gladiators (21-26-6-2, 50 pts) by a score of 7-2 Friday night at Germain Arena.
The Everblades added some fire power to their lineup in their return home following a lengthy six-game road trip. Brendan O’Donnell and Jake Baker rejoined the team Friday from the AHL, while Adam Brace returned from the IR, along with the addition of Nelson Armstrong from the University of Prince Edward Island.
In a period controlled for the majority of the time by the Blades both teams entered the intermission locked in a 1-1 tie. Peters and Vladar both had highlight saves early, but Peters came away with easily the best save of the night when he found himself down on the ice and the puck in front of him in the slot before a shot was fired off from right in front of the net only for Peters to sweep the glove robbing the Gladiators from getting on the board first.
Florida got on the board first a little over halfway through the period when Josh Wesley blasted a shot from the point by Vladar who never saw the puck.
The Gladiators tied it up a few minutes later with 5:30 left in the period, as Trevor Murovich squeezed the puck under Peters pad, tying it up, and sending the game into the first intermission tied.
The Everblades grabbed a 2-1 lead after spending the first nine minutes of the second period almost entirely in the Gladiators end, when on an odd man rush Dalton Smith dropped a pass to the slot to Adam Brace who was prepped for the one-timer that blew by Vladar. Brace picked up the goal in his first game back since being injured on January 13th.
The Gladiators would again answer rather quickly, as Justin Buzzeo sneaked in behind the net before dishing it out to Derek Nesbitt in the slot who was able to sling one by Peters.
After an icing by the Blades they would win the draw, and showing no signs of fatigue Brant Harris hit Brendan O’Donnell on the breakaway as he turned on the jets blowing through the middle of the ice and wristing his 30th goal of the year past Vladar, to give the Blades a 3-2 lead headed into the second intermission.
Florida opened the flood gates in the third, scoring four unanswered goals to pad their lead. Just 41 seconds into the third on the power play, Stephen MacAulay would take Brant Harris’ second drop pass assist of the night in the slot before wiring it into the back of the net.
A little over a minute later, the Blades added another goal as Clark Bishop sped into the zone and wound up on the left side boards before slapping it past Vladar to extend the Florida lead to 5-2.
The Blades weren’t finished with their early onslaught as Jake Baker was able to reach up and make a baseball-esque glove catch at the blue line to keep it in the zone, before setting up the play and the puck eventually finding its way to O’Donnell’s stick. O’Donnell deked into the slot and tallied his second of the night.
Captain Brant Harris capped off the Blades offensive explosion on the power play. O’Donnell sauced a pass across the middle of the zone down low to Harris who was waiting to fire it by Vladar’s blocker side, capping off the Blades 7-2 victory.
Peters earned his 26th goal of the season stopping 11 of 13 shots, while Vladar takes the loss allowing seven goals on 45 shots faced. Newcomer Nelson Armstrong recorded an assist in his professional debut.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at Germain Arena with a 7:00 p.m. start time.Upcoming Home Games & PromotionsSaturday, March 4 vs. Atlanta, 7:00 p.m. – From 5-7 pm. join us for the tailgate featuring live music and bounce houses for the kids. Laces of Love night. Fans are welcome to bring a new pair of sneakers or tennis shoes to donate to underprivileged children and/or teenagers in Southwest Florida. Shoes may be dropped off at the Lace of Love table in the concourse.
Wednesday, March 8 vs. Utah, 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.
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###