JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — John McCarron posted a goal and an assist for the second straight game, but Maxime Fortier scored twice in 14 seconds in the last eight minutes of the third period to lift the Jacksonville Icemen to a 4-3 win over the Florida Everblades in Game 3 of the South Division Semifinal series on Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Arena.
McCarron scored with 2:15 left in regulation to bring Florida back within one, but Jacksonville held off a final surge by the ‘Blades to cut its series deficit to 2-1.
Florida struck for the game’s first goal on the second of the postseason by Justin Auger. Ben Masella released a shot from the right point, but Jacksonville goaltender Mikhail Berdin made the initial save. McCarron put a second shot on goal from the right goal line, and Auger tracked down that rebound at the top of the crease. With his back to the net, Auger slipped a backhand shot past Berdin for his fifth point of the playoffs.
The Icemen netted the only two goals of the second period to take their first lead. Sam Warning blocked an attempt from Jacksonville’s Garrett Ladd in the ‘Blades defensive zone, but the puck came back to Ladd in the slot and he beat Florida netminder Jeremy Helvig low on his glove side at the 4:11 mark of period two.
Jacob Cederholm scored off a rush on a blast from the top of the right circle with 6:08 to play in the second to hand the Icemen the 2-1 edge.
But Florida battled back for the first time to draw even at two less than two minutes into the third. After scoring five goals in five games in the regular season, Alex Tonge tabbed his first postseason goal on a rebound from Nathan Perkovich’s shot from the right wing.
Fortier pushed Jacksonville ahead for good with a score on a two-on-two rush into the ‘Blades zone. He then made the advantage two goals right off the ensuing faceoff, sliding the puck past Helvig’s left pad on an abbreviated breakaway with 7:27 to play in the third.
McCarron led the ‘Blades final comeback charge with his second goal of the postseason with time winding down in the third. His initial stuff attempt at the near post was halted by Berdin, but McCarron immediately recovered and jammed the rebound home to give him his 17th career postseason multi-point game.
Helvig stopped 15 shots in his first regulation loss since Feb. 27.
Florida will seek to regain its two-game series lead when it faces the Icemen on Friday at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Arena.
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