St. John's, N.L. — In need of a win to bring the Eastern Conference Finals back to Estero, the Florida Everblades (9-5-1) square off with the Newfoundland Growlers (11-4-1) in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series on Saturday at Mile One Centre.
Last Time OutZach O'Brien registered a hat trick and four points total and Brady Ferguson also put up four points (1g-3a) to lead the Growlers to a 6-0 win over Florida in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday at Mile One Centre. Leading 2-0 at the start of the second period, the Growlers netted four goals, including three on the power play, in the middle stanza to create separation in their first home win of the series. Michael Garteig stopped all 28 shots he faced for Newfoundland to earn his second shutout of the series. BOX SCORE | RECAP
Players to WatchDerek Sheppard (FLA) – The rookie defenseman made his return to the lineup for Florida on Friday after missing the first 14 games of the playoffs while on a call-up to the American Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers. Sheppard posted 40 points (14g-26a) in the regular season, the highest point total by a 'Blades rookie defenseman in team history. He was named to the All-Rookie Team and the All-ECHL Second Team in April on the heels of his standout campaign.
Zach O'Brien (NFL) - After going two games without a point, O'Brien netted four points (3g-1a) on Friday, which included his second hat trick of the playoffs. His hat trick was the first against the Everblades since Dec. 29, 2017, when Joshua Winquist of Orlando had three tallies against Florida. O'Brien's four-point night was also the most points by one player in a game against the 'Blades in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs. O'Brien's 14 goals and 23 points lead all ECHL players in the postseason.
Series historyThis is the second straight Eastern Conference Finals in which Florida will battle its opponent in a playoff series for the first time. Last year, the 'Blades faced Adirondack in the Eastern Conference Finals, a team they had never met in the playoffs. Prior to the playoff series, the 'Blades only two previous meetings with the Growlers came in Newfoundland on Oct. 12-13 of this season. Newfoundland won the first game, 3-2, but Florida bounced back to win the series finale by a 3-2 score in the opening weekend of the regular season.
Needing ThreeThe magic number for Florida all season has been three goals. When Florida struck at least three times in the regular season, it had only two regulation losses and posted a record of 49-2-4-1. The 'Blades are 8-1-0 in the postseason when tabbing at least three goals. The only loss of those nine playoff games was a 4-3 setback in Jacksonville in Game 3 of the South Division Semifinals.
Going WithoutPrior to the start of this series, the Everblades had been shut out in the Kelly Cup Playoffs only twice since the 2008 postseason. However, Newfoundland goaltender Michael Garteig, who did not have a shutout for the Growlers through the first two rounds of this year's playoffs, has turned in two blank slates against Florida in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Close CallsThe Growlers and Everblades rank first and second, respectively, in the number of one-goal games in which they have played in during the playoffs. Strangely enough, only one game in the series has been decided by the minimum, the Everblades' 5-4 win on Wednesday in Game 3. Florida and Newfoundland are tied for first in the ECHL with five wins in one-goal games in the playoffs. The 'Blades are 5-1-1 in one-goal games and the Growlers are 5-2-1 in one-goal affairs.
Roster RewindOf the 23 players listed on the 'Blades opening night roster, 13 are on the Everblades current playoff roster. Eight of the players on the current roster played in the season opener on Oct. 12 against Newfoundland: Grant Arnold, Patrick McCarron, Kyle Platzer, Tommy Thompson, John McCarron, Joe Cox, Logan Roe, and Jeremy Helvig.
Tonight's BroadcastGame 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals will air on WJBX - News, Talk & More. Fans can listen online at wjbxnewstalk.com or on the radio dial at 101.5 FM, 104.3 FM or 770 AM. Don't miss out on the official watch party for Game 5 at either of the Bokampers locations in Naples and Estero. For the latest broadcast information throughout the playoffs, make sure to follow the 'Blades on Facebook and Twitter.
Next UpIf Florida wins on Saturday, it will host Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday at Hertz Arena at 7:30 p.m.
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