ESTERO, Fla. — Strong special teams play helped power the Florida Everblades to their second straight win, as Florida scored twice on the power play and killed off all six penalties it faced in a 6-3 win over the Manchester Monarchs on Friday night at Hertz Arena.
Joe Cox (1g-2a), Derek Sheppard (1g-2a), and Kyle Platzer (3a) all registered three-point games to lead the way offensively for Florida (35-11-5-0, 75 pts.) in the series opener against Manchester (26-23-1-1, 54 pts.).
David Kolomatis lit the lamp first to give the Monarchs the first lead of the game midway through the first frame. With the Blades caught in their own end, Kolomatis was left alone at the right point and given room to walk to the top of the circle before clinking the puck bar down over the blocker of Florida goaltender Jeremy Helvig.
While on the penalty kill, Florida caught a break at 13:30 of the first period when the Monarchs found the post behind Helvig again. This time, the puck pinged off to keep it a one-goal game.
The ‘Blades then tied the score with a goal from Shane Walsh with just 1:43 to play in the opening period. After killing off two straight penalties, Florida translated that momentum and capitalized. Patrick McCarron fired a rocket on net from the left point that Manchester goaltender Charles Williams couldn’t control. Walsh picked up the rebound and tucked it in for his ninth goal of the season.
Tony Cameranesi scored off a rebound on his own breakaway to push Manchester back ahead seven minutes, 20 seconds into the second, but Florida netted the next two goals to take its first lead of the game.
Just 1:12 after Cameranesi’s tally, Michael Neville deflected in Kyle Platzer’s shot from the high slot to tie the game at two. With the secondary assist on the play, Logan Roe moved to 24 points on the season to surpass his career-high.
Derek Sheppard provided Florida with its first lead of the game by scoring the first power-play goal of the night with 2:53 to play in the middle frame. With John McCarron and Blake Winiecki providing a screen in front of Williams, Sheppard hammered a shot from the high slot over William’s blocker for his fifth power-play goal of the season.
The ‘Blades got help yet again from the left post in behind Helvig just four minutes into the third period when the Monarchs rang it off the outside of the iron on a two-on-one rush.
Spencer Watson, the Monarchs’ leading scorer and Helvig’s former teammate with the Kingston Frontenacs, tied the game a third time at 4:59 of the third period. On another two-on-one rush, Watson walked into the right circle and fired a knuckling puck that careened off Helvig to even the game at 3-3.
But Florida responded by scoring the final three goals of the game to ensure their 19th home win of the season. Everblades captain John McCarron put his squad up 4-3 with the second power-play goal of the night. Just 35 seconds into the man advantage, Cox dished to Blake Winiecki at the right goal line. Winiecki spun the puck on goal, and after Williams made the initial stop, McCarron jammed in the rebound from the top of the crease.
Cox then scored off his own rebound on a two-on-one rush just one minute, 43 seconds after McCarron’s goal to give Florida its first two-goal lead of the game.
The Monarchs decided to pull Williams with more than four minutes left in the game, and Sheppard set up Winiecki for the empty-net goal for the final tally of the night.
Helvig improved his personal record to 17-4-3 with a 25-save effort for Florida.
The Everblades stayed unbeaten at 11-0-0 when scoring at least one power-play goal.Florida will go for the series sweep of Manchester on Saturday night. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hertz Arena.
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