ESTERO, Fla. — Florida Everblades head coach Brad Ralph announced on Thursday a series of transactions that involved four players called up to the American Hockey League and the acquisition of forward Liam Bilton in a trade with the Orlando Solar Bears.
Along with the addition of Bilton, the Everblades loaned defenseman Matt Finn and forward John McCarron to the AHL’s Ontario Reign and Stockton Heat, respectively, while defenseman Derek Sheppard was recalled to the Charlotte Checkers. Defenseman Josh Wesley was assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack by the Carolina Hurricanes after being recalled to Charlotte by Carolina.
Acquired from Orlando in exchange for future considerations, Bilton, 24, recently turned professional after finishing a four-year career at the University of Manitoba (USports). The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native logged 45 points (25g-20a) in 99 career games for the Bisons. Measuring 6 feet 4 inches and weighing 220 pounds, Bilton spent three seasons with the Winnipeg Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League before his Canadian collegiate career. He had 93 points (41g-52a) in 153 games for the Blues.
Finn is being loaned to an AHL club for the third time this season and just returned from his second AHL stint earlier this week. In eight games in the AHL this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Hartford, Finn posted one goal and logged four penalty minutes. He has recorded eight goals and 19 total points in 78 career AHL games. Finn has registered 18 points (9g-9a) in 27 games with the ‘Blades this year.
McCarron, Florida’s captain, is being loaned to the Heat for the second time this season. He played in one game for Stockton in mid-January in his first AHL appearance this year. The Cornell University product has averaged more than a point per game this season for Florida and has 53 points (26g-27a) in 49 games. He is tied for eighth in the ECHL in overall scoring.
A rookie from Ajax, Ontario, Sheppard will be making his second appearance in the AHL this season and leads Florida’s defensemen in scoring with 30 points (11g-19a). He notched one assist in six games with the Checkers in his first career call-up to the AHL, which spanned the end of December through mid-January.
Wesley, 22, is being assigned to the Wolf Pack for the first time in his professional career after playing his first 33 career AHL contests with the Checkers. The Park City, Utah, native has potted a goal and three assists in his AHL career and tabbed two assists in six games with Charlotte in his first AHL stay this season. The third-year pro has totaled 14 points (4g-10a) in 39 games for Florida this season.
Florida continues a stretch of three straight games against Orlando with a Friday matchup at Hertz Arena. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes