ESTERO, Fla. — The Florida Everblades faced their largest deficit of the season on Tuesday night at Hertz Arena, which presented the opportunity for the biggest come-from-behind win of the year.
Down three goals on two separate occasions, the Everblades (31-8-5-0, 67 pts.) scored the final four goals to beat the Jacksonville Icemen, 5-4, and sweep the stretch of three straight games with Jacksonville (23-19-1-1, 48 pts.).
After Garet Hunt scored with 7:09 left in the second period to put Jacksonville up 4-1, Florida started its push. On one of the most pivotal tallies of the game, Patrick Bajkov redirected Patrick McCarron’s initial shot from the high slot past Icemen goaltender Tanner Jaillet to pull Florida within two with 5:08 remaining in the middle frame. That two-goal deficit held until the end of the period.
‘Blades captain John McCarron displayed incredible hand-eye coordination to bring Florida within one goal 3:20 into the third period. On a four-on-four sequence, the ‘Blades entered the zone, and Derek Sheppard tossed a puck high in the slot. McCarron batted it down behind a Jacksonville defender’s stick before going upstairs on Jaillet’s blocker side.
Only 2:10 later, Florida tied the game on Joe Cox’s fourth goal in the three-game series with Jacksonville. With the ‘Blades swarming in the Icemen end, John McCarron chipped a pass up to Logan Roe at the blue line, and Roe wound up for a shot that Cox deflected just inside the hash marks to tie the game at four.
The ‘Blades took their first lead on their eighth power play of the night. Tommy Thompson picked up the eventual game-winning goal thanks to a relentless effort in the crease. A net-mouth scramble ensued and Jaillet somehow fell out of the blue paint with the puck sitting in the crease. Thompson banged it home to give the 'Blades their first lead of the night.
Florida goaltender Jamie Phillips, who came on in relief of starter Jeremy Helvig, made a huge save for the 'Blades late in regulation to preserve the one-goal lead, stopping Eli Lichtenwald on an abbreviated breakaway with 4:59 to play.
The Icemen scored first for the seventh time in 10 meetings between the two teams this season and had the first three goals of the game to take a 3-0 lead just two minutes, five seconds into the middle frame.
Defenseman Justin Woods scored on a breakaway on Helvig at the 10:56 mark of the opening frame to get the scoring started.
Wacey Rabbit added another to the Icemen lead just a little over a minute later. As he emerged from behind the net, Cody Fowlie sent a one-time feed to Rabbit in the left circle a shot that beat Helvig on the glove side.
The Icemen then grabbed their first three-goal lead of the game with Tyson Fawcett’s third goal of the season. After the ‘Blades got trapped in their own zone, Garet Hunt made a move to the slot. He couldn’t keep hold of the puck, but it fell back to Fawcett, who hammered it past Helvig with a slapshot.
Florida finally got one past Jaillet at 11:38 of the second period. Nathan Perkovich managed to tip in a rebound off Stathis Soumelidis’ initial chance from the left-wing wall for his 14th score of the season.
Phillips earned his 17th win by making 13 saves in 27:09 of game time.
Cox continued his post-ECHL All-Star Classic hot streak with his 12th multi-point game of the season and fourth straight two-point effort. In ten games against the Icemen this season, Cox has tabbed nine goals and 14 total points.
Florida now travels to Duluth, Georgia, to face the Atlanta Gladiators on Thursday night. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. at Infinite Energy Arena.
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