ESTERO, Fla. — In front of a sold-out crowd of 7,405, Justin Auger scored two goals, including the Teddy Bear Toss tally just 3:54 into the opening period, and the Florida Everblades scored five times total in the first two periods to beat the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 5-4, on Saturday night at Hertz Arena.
Michael Neville, John McCarron and Nathan Perkovich added tallies for Florida (14-5-4, 32 pts.), which pushed its point streak to 11 games to tie the ECHL-high for this season.
Stuffed animals flew from the rafters when the ‘Blades scored their first goal less than four minutes into the first period on their second shot of the game. Tommy Thompson came from behind the net and threw the puck into the crease, where Auger had set up camp and promptly tapped in the puck.
The Swamp Rabbits (9-14-3-0, 21 pts.) registered back to back goals to take their only lead of the game with less than six minutes left in the first. Jake Bolton netted a power-play goal at the 6:09 mark of the first, and Will Merchant redirected Sean Flanagan’s shot to put Greenville ahead with five minutes, 49 seconds to play in the opening frame.
But Florida answered back just 44 seconds later to tie the game at two. On a rush into the offensive zone, Michael Neville angled through the right circle and slipped off a shot that bounced past Greenville goaltender Garrett Bartus.
Auger then pushed the Everblades back ahead with his second of the night with 2:10 left in the opening period to make it a 3-2 lead.
The two teams traded goals in the second period as Florida responded after both Greenville tallies to retain its edge. Trevor Owens pulled the Swamp Rabbits even at the 6:30 mark of the middle period, but McCarron roofed a shot from the right circle only 38 seconds after that to give the Everblades a 4-3 edge.
After Greenville scored on a five-minute power play to knot the score at four, Florida struck for the eventual game-winning goal on Perkovich’s second game-winning score of the weekend. Neville started a rush into the offensive zone and found Perkovich racing through the slot at the edge of the left circle. Perkovich one-timed the feed from Neville for his fourth goal in his last three games.
Florida goaltender Jamie Phillips made that tally hold up by stopping all nine shots he faced in the third period. He stayed undefeated at home with his sixth win, stopping 22 of 26 shots in his second start of the weekend.
Florida matched its season high with its fourth straight win, while the 11th straight game with a point equaled the Toledo Walleye’s ECHL-best streak from earlier this season.
After six straight games at home, Florida now heads on the road for its next five contests, starting with a two-game series in Greenville on Thursday and Friday of this week.
Single-game tickets for all regular season home games are on sale now!Ticket packages for the 2018-19 season are still on sale! Become part of the Everblades Family with a Partial Season or a Flexible Voucher Package that fits your schedule and budget! All Ticket & Voucher Packages provide savings and special benefits! To view the Ticket & Voucher Package options CLICK HERE.SPECIAL OFFER! Purchase a new ticket package for the 2018-19 season and receive a $20 gift card to Ford’s Garage and an Everblades T-Shirt!Private Arena Tours are also available to select your 2018-19 season seats! Call the Everblades office at 239-948-7825 to schedule your tour today!
The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes