ESTERO, Fla. — The Greenville Swamp Rabbits arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to Hertz Arena on Saturday night, but they left their tails between their legs as the Florida Everblades swept the three-game series with a 10-4 victory.
In the final game of a six-game homestand, Florida (26-7-5-0, 57 pts.) got a hat trick from Kyle Platzer and scored five or more goals for the fourth straight game, erupting for at least three goals in each period on the way to its highest-scoring game of the season.
Justin Auger used his big frame to get his first of two in the game, putting the Blades on the board 3:08 into the game. Going in behind the net, Auger overworked his man to get out into the bottom of the right circle for a wicked wrister that snuck through Greenville goaltender Chris Nell’s five-hole for the first goal of the game.
Greenville (14-22-3-2, 33 pts.) responded to tie the game on Brendan Harms’ first of his two-goal night, but Florida then scored the next five goals to open up the lead.
Auger added his second of the night on the power play at the 14:32 mark of the first period. After Tommy Thompson won the faceoff in the Greenville end, the ‘Blades set up a perfect cycle that ended with Blake Winiecki finding Auger in the high slot for a shot that blazed past the glove of Nell to make it 2-1.
Thompson added to the ‘Blades’ lead with a highlight-reel buzzer beater. With under 10 seconds to play in the period, Thompson rocketed from coast to coast and wired a shot from the top of the left circle past the glove of Nell with only 0.6 seconds left on the clock.
Nathan Perkovich turned it into a three-goal lead at 9:08 of the second period. Off a feed from Brian Morgan, Perkovich had his stick snap in the middle of the ensuing one-timer. But with the amount of power on the shot, the puck still went through traffic on net and just barely snuck over the goal line.
Platzer started his hat trick night by posting the ‘Blades fifth of the night at 13:40 of the second period. Nell made the initial save on Platzer on his shot from the right circle, but Platzer followed up his own rebound and jammed it in from the far post. Just 1:41 after his first goal, Platzer roofed a shot from the low slot off a feed from Joe Cox to make it 6-1.
Swamp Rabbits captain Michael Pelech got the goal back for Greenville just 32 seconds later, but Florida then registered the next three goals to put the game out of reach.
Platzer scored arguably the prettiest goal of the night to finish the hat trick just 31 seconds into the third period. Michael Neville worked the puck free behind the net, popped out to the left goal line and sent the puck to Platzer in the opposite circle. As Platzer received the pass, he spun quickly and fired the puck on his backhand to beat Nell for the ‘Blades’ seventh of the night.
Thompson forced a turnover to keep Florida in the offensive zone and located Logan Roe, who beat Nell from the slot to give the ‘Blades an 8-2 lead. Brian Morgan then batted in a rebound one minute, 32 seconds later to increase the lead to seven.
Dan Milan got the Swamp Rabbits third of the night with 10:55 to play, whittling the deficit to 9-3.
With the crowd chanting, “We want 10,” Patrick McCarron capped the ‘Blades highest-scoring game since the 2016-17 season on a shot that beat Greenville’s backup goaltender Garrett Bartus five-hole with 1:23 to play.
Austen Brassard added another for the Swamp Rabbits with a little over a minute left for the final goal of the highest-scoring game this season in the ECHL.
Jamie Phillips picked up his 15th win of the season with 28 saves on 32 shots and is tied for the league lead in victories.
Florida now heads west for its only non-conference games of the season, a three-game set with the Rapid City Rush that starts on Wednesday with a 9:05 p.m. ET tilt.
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 tote bag!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