Written By Keaton Hanley
ESTERO, FL – Mitchel Heard’s hat trick paced the Florida Everblades to a 6-2 victory over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits Saturday night at Germain Arena. Florida claims all three games on the week to continue to hold the top spot in the South Division.
The ‘Blades got on the board early on just 1:31 into the game with Steven Lorentz pouncing on a rebound off of a Brett Bulmer shot to get the first goal past Greenville goaltender Brad Barone. The goal broke the snake-bitten forward's scoreless streak at 14 games, despite his strong play and effort during that stretch.
Mitchell Heard extended the Everblades' lead moments after being released from the penalty box. Heard intercepted a Greenville pass down the middle of the ice and sped into the Swamp Rabbits end. Heard then dangled through traffic and then faked out Barone, slipping the puck into the net on the backhand to make it a 2-0 game.
Fueled by a knockout of Greenville’s Jake Schultz by the hands of Kyle Neuber in a heavyweight bout for the ages, the ‘Blades added to their lead with a shot from the blue line off the stick of Mitchell Heard that flew directly to the back of the net. The goal for Heard came just 3:19 after his first tally on his next shift.
The Swamp Rabbits climbed back within two goals when they scored on the power play. A slap shot from the point by Brendan Kotyk blazed by Florida goaltender Martin Ouellette to make it a 3-1 game with a little over five minutes to play in the first period.
John McCarron put another tally the board at 10:19 of the second period continuing his personal dominance of the Swamp Rabbits. Matt Berry delivered a pass from the corner to an uncontested McCarron in the slot. McCarron wired home the shot to make it 4-1 at the midway point of the period.
Local product now Greenville defenseman Daniel Echeverri scored his first career ECHL goal in the building he grew up playing shortly after the McCarron strike. Echeverri delivered his own laser of a wrist shot from the slot that beat Ouellette on his glove side to make it a two-goal game once again. Florida took a 4-2 lead into the intermission.
Throughout the season, the Everblades have controlled the third period, and Saturday was much of the same as they added a goal and held the Swamp Rabbits off the scoreboard. The ‘Blades continued their assault in the third, as they scored 4:09 into the third period as Justin Kea made easy work of a rebound that found its way into the slot, extending the Blades lead to 5-2.
Mitchell Heard completed his hat trick in front of his father who was in attendance. Heard showcased his skilled hands as he corralled a bouncing puck in front and tucked it into the back of the net for the ‘Blades sixth goal of the game. Heard finished the week with six points (3g, 3a) in three games.
Florida outshot the Swamp Rabbits 31-8 in the final two periods of the game.
Martin Ouellette earned his 24th win of the season making 22 saves. Barone made 37 saves on the 43 shots faced in the game.
Florida will now get set for a two-game set next Friday (March 9) and Saturday (March 10) at Jacksonville.
Upcoming Home GamesFriday, March 16, vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m. Kids eat free in the Breakaway Sports Pubwith the purchase of an adult entree! Fans can also enjoy bottomless all-you-can-eat popcorn from the concession stands all night long!
Saturday, March 17, vs. Orlando, 7:00 p.m. Annual Gun 'n Hoses game! The team will wear special police and fire fighter themed jerseys that will be auctioned off following the game to benefit MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association). In addition, local police and fire fighters will do battle on the ice beginning at 4:15 p.m.
Try Goalie Day also takes place on March 17 from 12;30-2:30 p.m. on the main rink at Germain Arena. This FREE event is open to kids aged 5-13 interested in the opportunity to try playing goalie. Everblades Goaltending Coach Josh Robinson in conjunction with Phil Osaer with USA Hockey will be hosting the event for interested kids to have fun and give the goaltending position a try. Goalie equipment will be provided.
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###