DULUTH, GA – Michael Kirkpatrick scored twice to lead the Florida Everblades to a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Gladiators in Game 3 of the South Division Semifinals played at Infinite Energy Arena Thursday evening. The Everblades now take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
It was a goaltender’s duel in the first period as Florida’s Callum Booth and Atlanta’s Dan Vladar put on a clinic, with each making several acrobatic saves to keep the game scoreless through the first 20 minutes of play.
Following two unsuccessful power play opportunities in the opening period, the Everblades made the third one count with their third at 4:05 of the second period. Michael Kirkpatrick broke into the zone at the right wing circle and snapped a shot cleanly past Vladar for his third goal of the playoffs.
Halfway through the period, Atlanta tied the game on a power play chance of their own. Captain Derek Nesbitt one-timed a shot from the right wing circle that clipped off the shoulder of Booth and high into the net for the tying marker.
Less than four minutes later, the Gladiators seized their first lead of the series, on Taylor Stefishen’s first of the playoffs. Atlanta forward Tanner Pond fed the puck from the boards to Stefishen at the bottom of the left circle. Stefishen flipped a shot that hit off the Booth’ glove and looped into the net to give Atlanta the 2-1 edge.
In the final minute of the middle frame, Spencer Smallman outpaced the defense and broke in on a scoring chance. Smallman flipped a shot that was stopped off the pad of a diving Vladar. Smallman chased down the rebound and threw it to the top of the crease to Justin Kea who batted the puck past the outstretched goaltender to tie the game at 2-2.
Both teams kept things even in the third period, but Florida reclaimed the lead at 14:51, when Mitchell Heard set up Kirkpatrick in the slot. Kirkpatrick delivered a shot from the hash mark that sailed low on the ice past Vladar for the go-ahead tally.
Moments later, Atlanta pulled Vladar to allow for the extra attacker, but Atlanta native Zack Kamrass cleared the puck out of the zone to Brett Bulmer who hurled the puck into the empty net from the right wing to seal the 4-2 victory. Kamrass finished the game with three assists.
Callum Booth was stellar in goal stopping 22 of the 24 shots faced in the game ot earn his first professional playoff victory. Dan Vladar was once again solid, but takes the loss allowing three goals on 32 shots.
The two teams will meet again in Game 4 on Friday at the Infinite Energy Arena at 7:35 p.m. Fans can catch the game broadcast on WJBX (101.5 FM, 104.3 FM, 770-AM), or online by CLICKING HERE. Fans may also watch the game online at ECHL.TV
2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs Schedule - South Division Semfinals
(#1) Florida Everblades vs. (#4) Atlanta Gladiators (Florida leads the best-of-seven series 3-0)Game 1: Monday, April 16th – Atlanta - 1 at FLORIDA - 4Game 2: Tuesday, April 17th – Atlanta - 2 at FLORIDA - 3 Game 3: Thursday, April 19th – FLORIDA - 4 at Atlanta - 2Game 4: Friday, April 20th – 7:35pm, Infinite Energy ArenaGame 5: Sunday, April 22nd – 2:05pm, Infinite Energy Arena (If necessary)Game 6: Tuesday, April 24th – 7:30pm – Germain Arena (If necessary)Game 7: Wednesday, April 25th – 7:30pm – Germain Arena (If necessary)
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The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliateof the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes###