Written by Keaton Hanley
ESTERO, FL – On Wednesday, the Florida Everblades used six different goal scorers to defeat the Jacksonville Icemen by a 6-2 score and clinch a spot in the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Everblades clinch a playoff spot for the 19th time in the team's 20-year history.
The ‘Blades found their way onto the board first at 11:30 of the first period as John McCarron was able to find the back of the net on a five-on-three power play. As hot from Matt Finn at the point had eyes as it deflected off Stephen MacAulay’s stick and through the slot to John McCarron who got enough of the puck to redirect it past an outstretched leg of Icemen goalie Austin Lotz. Florida took the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The Icemen were able to even the score at 4:11 of the second period after the Icemen were generating a lot of chances in the Blades end early on. Garret Hunt was able to find the back of the net off of a shot from the left side circle as he curled back and labeled a shot top right on Ouellette’s blocker side to tie the game at 1-1.
The Everblades answered back quickly off a juicy rebound that Lotz let up off of a Brett Bulmer’s laser shot that bobbled right to the stick of Quentin Shore who was primed to bury the rebound and regain the lead for the Blades.
Moments later, the Blades added to their lead with a dictionary definition of a tic-tac-toe play as Michael Kirkpatrick sauced the puck over to Mitchell Heard who sent it right back to catch Lotz biting on the initial pass. Kirkpatrick flung the puck past him for the goal as he tried to dive back across the crease.
The ‘Blades added another just past the midway point of the second period, as they displayed great passing in the Icemen end. Michael Kirkpatrick threw down a pass to Justin Kea at the left side of the net who caught Brett Bulmer. Bulmer took the pass to his backhand and lifted the puck into the top left corner of the net over a diving Lutz. The goal gave the Blades a 4-1 lead with just over eight minutes to go in the second period.
Moments after the fourth goal the Blades found themselves on their second 5-on-3-power play of the period. Although the Blades were unable to score on that opportunity, they were able to put their fifth goal on the board just seconds following he power play ended Zack Kamrass picked up his fifth goal of the season off a shot from the top of the left circle that made its way through traffic and Lutz.
The goal drew the end of the night for Austin Lotz as he surrendered five goals on 24 shots; Colton Phinney came in for him in relief.
With 2:53 to go in the second period the Icemen brought the score within three off a goal from Elgin Pearce just outside the crease as he lifted the puck over Ouellette and Florida carried a 5-2 lead into the intermission.
Justin Kea opened added to the lead at 11:29 of the third period. Kea took the puck coast to coast all the way from behind the Blades net and wheeled past every Icemen player on the ice and tucked it by Phinney after a quick deke to extend the lead to 6-2.
Martin Ouellette earned his 23rd win of the season making 24 saves. Lotz’s three-game winning streak came to and end and finished the game with 19 saves.
Florida will now get set for a pair of games this Friday and Saturday against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at Germain Arena. Promotional details provided below.
Upcoming Home GamesFriday, March 2, vs. Greenville, 7:30 p.m. Kids eat free in the Breakaway Sports Pub with the purchase of an adult entree, and fans can enjoy bottomless all-you-can-eat-popcorn. Both of these specials are valid for every Friday night game during the regular season.
Saturday, March 3, vs. Greenville, 7:00 p.m. Lee County Schools Night The Fur Circus mascots will be on hand to entertain the fans and kids throughout the night and in the concourse! Tailgate party from 5-7 p.m. featuring live music and bounce houses for the kids.
Purchase Single Game Tickets at the Florida Community Bank Box Office located at Germain Arena, or online via Ticketmaster by CLICKING HERE
2017-18 Ticket Packages are Currently on Sale! Flexible partial plans are available. These packages will best fit your schedule and budget! To view pricing and benefits of all available ticket packages CLICK HERE
SPECIAL OFFER! Purchase a new ticket package for the 2017-18 season and receive a $20 gift card to Ford's Garage!
Discounted Group Tickets: Bring your group of 10 or more to a game at a discounted price! Group tickets are available for all home games. Fundraising opportunities are also available. For more information on group tickets, call 239-948-7825, or stop by the Everblades offices at Germain Arena Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliateof the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes###