WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The Florida Everblades (11-6-0-0, 22 pts.) begin their only Mountain Division road series of the season with the first tilt of a three-game set with the Utah Grizzlies (6-7-2-1, 15 pts.) on Wednesday night at the Maverik Center.
Last time outSouth Carolina's Mark Cooper scored twice, including a tally just 16 seconds into the game, to help lead the Stingrays to a series sweep of the Everblades with a 3-0 win on Saturday night at Hertz Arena. Florida outshot the Stingrays by six (30-24), but Parker Milner stopped all 30 shots he faced to earn his league-leading third shutout of the season. South Carolina did all its damage at the bookends of periods, scoring in the opening minute of each of the first two periods in addition to a tally in the last 90 seconds of the first.RECAP | BOX SCORE
Series At A GlanceWednesday marks just the second all-time meeting between the Everblades and Grizzlies and the first-ever matchup between the two teams in Utah. The only previous meeting came in Estero, a game the Grizzlies won, 4-3, on March 8, 2017. This is the second straight season the Everblades have paid a visit to a Mountain Division team for the first time in their franchise history. Last season, the 'Blades lone Mountain Division series was a three-game set in Rapid City, South Dakota, against the Rush, the first-ever meetings between the two teams. Florida won the series with Rapid City, 2-1.
Players to WatchBlake Winiecki (FLA) - Winiecki has started his second pro season right where he left off as a rookie. Last season, he finished tied for fifth among ECHL first-year players with 59 points. The Lakeville, Minnesota native is currently tied for the team lead with seven goals this year. If he played in 61 games as he did a year ago, Winiecki would be right on pace with his 25-goal season from last year. He is just one point shy of matching his offensive output of 75 points from his four-year college career and could do so in 62 fewer games as a pro.
Taylor Richart (UTA) – Currently in his fourth season with the Grizzlies, the blueliner has been a key source of offense this season and ranks fifth among ECHL defensemen in goals. After tabbing just eight goals last season while playing in all 72 games for Utah, Richart is already up to five goals in 16 games this year. He posted a career-high 17 tallies and 41 points in his sophomore season in the ECHL in 2017-18 and has 102 points (37g-65a) in 206 career ECHL games.
Three's CompanyThe three-game set against Utah is Florida's only series of the season where it plays the same opponent in three consecutive games in the same location. Last season, Florida had eight different three-game series against the same opponent — six of those were at home and two were on the road.
Promising PKThe Everblades' penalty kill has been a source of strength in recent weeks. After starting the season 14-for-19 (73.7%) against opposing power plays, Florida has really picked up the pace. The 'Blades have put up perfect performances on the penalty kill in seven of their last nine games and have converted on 94.6% (35-for-37) of their penalty kills in that nine-game stretch. Entering the series with Utah, Florida ranks third in the ECHL on the penalty kill with a conversion rate of 87.5%.
Bookend ScoringFlorida had surrendered just two goals in the first minute of a period before the series against South Carolina, but the Stingrays scored three times in the first minute of a frame between the two games. Coincidentally, Florida scored in the first minute of a period for the first time this season in Friday's 3-2 loss to the Stingrays. However, when it comes to the final minute of periods, the 'Blades have outscored opponents 5-2.
Next UpFollowing a day off on Thursday, Florida resumes the three-game series with Utah with a Friday night matchup at the Maverik Center. Faceoff is again set for 9:10 p.m. ET.
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