ESTERO, Fla. — Tommy Thompson registered his first career hat trick and Blake Winiecki and Matt Finn added goals to push the Florida Everblades to a 5-2 win over the Norfolk Admirals on Wednesday night at Hertz Arena.
In their final Wednesday game of the regular season, the Everblades (46-16-5-1, 98 pts.) scored four times on Norfolk (26-33-5-3, 60 pts.) in the first period to finish unbeaten in Wednesday home games with an 8-0-0 record.
The ‘Blades jumped on the Admirals early, striking less than five minutes into the first period for the ninth time at home this year. After two hard hits along the boards in the Norfolk end, Logan Roe stole the puck and sent it from the left wall to Grant Arnold along the goal line. Arnold then zipped the puck through the low slot to Thompson, who ripped a one-time shot from the back post past Norfolk netminder Ty Reichenbach only 2:25 into the game.
The Admirals fired back at 7:02 with a goal off an offensive zone faceoff. Christian Horn ricocheted a shot from the top of the left circle in and out of the back bar of the net to tie the game.
Blake Winiecki helped Florida regain the lead a little more than three minutes later. With the Admirals trying to break out from their own end, Winiecki stole a pass at the top of the right circle, walked in on the Admirals defense and fired a wrister past the blocker of Reichenbach.
Thompson added to the Everblades’ lead with his second of the night only two minutes, 22 seconds after Winiecki’s goal. Rushing into the Admirals end, Arnold wired a shot off the pads of Reichenbach to produce a juicy rebound in the low slot. Thompson was in the right place at the right time in the slot and banged the puck into the wide-open cage.
The ‘Blades weren’t done in the first period. Finn added his 14th goal of the season with 3:20 left in the opening frame. Finn darted into the Admirals end after grabbing the puck out of midair at center ice and walked around Admirals defenseman Brandon Rumble with a backhanded toe-drag. He then raced to the bottom of the circle for a wrist shot that beat Reichenbach on the blocker side to make it 4-1.
An unlucky bounce brought the Admirals back within two of the Blades at 3:09 of the middle stanza. Matt McMorrow stepped into a shot after crossing the ‘Blades blue line, and the slap shot deflected off the stick of Finn and bounced awkwardly on the ice past Florida goaltender Callum Booth’s glove.
Booth was involved in a scary moment just before the halfway point of the second frame when Ben Duffy clipped him as Duffy was heading behind the net. Booth had to be helped off the ice and Jeremy Helvig took over in net.
Helvig and the ‘Blades defense shut down the Admirals the rest of the way. The rookie netminder finished with 17 saves in relief.
Norfolk pulled Reichenbach with 2:14 to play, and Thompson took advantage of the empty net to finish his hat trick with 1:18 left in regulation. Thompson’s hat trick was his first multi-goal game of the season and second multi-goal game of his career.
Booth was credited with the win for Florida with 13 saves on 15 shots.
Florida continues the three-game series with Norfolk with a 7:30 p.m. matchup on Friday at Hertz Arena.
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