DULUTH, Ga. — Callum Booth stopped 33 shots in regulation and overtime and all three shooters he faced in the shootout to help the Florida Everblades edge the Atlanta Gladiators, 2-1, in a shootout on Friday night at Infinite Energy Arena.
Shane Walsh scored the only goal in regulation for Florida (44-15-5-0, 93 pts.), and Blake Winiecki netted the only goal in the shootout to send the ‘Blades to their seventh straight win, a season high.
Former Everblades forward Nolan LaPorte provided the first goal of the game for Atlanta (26-25-7-3, 62 pts.). After a shot at the left circle from Matt Lane missed wide of the net, LaPorte had the rebound bounce to him at the bottom of the right circle. He quickly turned and fired it past Booth at the 10:01 mark of the first.
In a period it has dominated all season, Florida scored the second period’s only goal to tie the game at one. With Florida cycling in the offensive zone, Tommy Thompson dropped the puck with Justin Wade at the right point. Wade’s shot through traffic was tipped by Jay Dickman and found its way to Shane Walsh at the near post. Walsh deflected it past Atlanta goaltender Sean Bonar to even the score with six minutes, six seconds gone in the middle frame.
Booth played a big role to get the game to the shootout. Atlanta nearly struck for the game-winning goal on a flurry of chances by Atlanta’s Nick Bligh with just more than three minutes left in overtime. Booth stopped Bligh as he attempted to jam the puck in at the far post and then followed that with a lunging save at the near post on Bligh’s shot from the right circle. Bligh got it back in the low slot, but Patrick Bajkov blocked the shot from the crease with Booth out of the net.
Winiecki scored the game-winning shootout goal in the second round by ripping a shot through the five-hole of Bonar. The rookie has recorded the shootout-winning score in two straight games for Florida.
Florida has now played in three straight shootout affairs, which is a season-high for consecutive games in a shootout or overtime. Florida improved to 5-0 in shootouts this season.
The ‘Blades now travel to South Carolina to start a two-game series with the South Carolina Stingrays. Faceoff in Saturday’s opener is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET.
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