DULUTH, Ga. — Alex Tonge scored two goals and Ken Appleby made 25 saves to lead the Florida Everblades to a 4-1 win over the Atlanta Gladiators on Saturday night at Infinite Energy Arena.
Facing Atlanta (5-7-0-0, 10 pts.) for the first time this season, Florida (10-4-0-0, 20 pts.) jumped out to a 2-0 advantage and never trailed en route to its third straight win.
Two former Gladiators combined to put the ‘Blades on the board first, as Zach Magwood assisted on Hugo Roy’s first goal of the year. After carrying the puck through the neutral zone, Roy dished the puck across the Atlanta blue line for Magwood, and he returned it right back to Roy between the circles. Roy then beat Gladiators goaltender Sean Bonar, his former teammate, with a shot over the blocker only 2:29 into the first for Florida’s fastest goal to start a game this season.
Tonge then increased Florida’s lead to two before the end of the first on his first goal of the season. The ‘Blades again stepped ahead on a zone rush, with this edition led by Michael Huntebrinker. He dropped a one-time pass with Tonge, and he hammered a slap shot over Bonar’s glove.
Following a goal by Atlanta’s Tommy Marchin less than five minutes into the second, Florida pushed its lead back to two on Tonge’s second of the night in the last three minutes of the second. With Florida on its third power play of the night, Huntebrinker collected a rebound in the bottom of the left circle and zipped a pass to the back post for Tonge. He lifted it over Bonar with 2:31 left in the second.
John McCarron helped cushion the ‘Blades lead with a shorthanded goal less than nine minutes into the third. Atlanta’s Zach Malatesta mishandled a puck at the left point, allowing McCarron to punch the puck away for a breakaway. From his backhand, he then roofed the puck over Bonar on the ensuing breakaway to make it a 4-1 lead for Florida with 11:22 left in the third.
Appleby earned his fourth straight win and yielded less than two goals for the third straight start to improve to 7-1-0-0 this season. Bonar made 28 saves in the loss.
- Florida scored multiple goals in the first period for the first time since its first two games of the season.
- The ‘Blades held the lead after the first period for the fifth time this season and the first time since a 4-3 overtime win over Toledo on Nov. 2.
- Alex Tonge had his second career multi-goal game and second multi-point game of the season. He has four points (2g-2a) in three games this week.
- Florida has allowed less than two goals in four of its last five games, permitting just eight goals total in that five-game stretch.
- John McCarron extended his career-best point streak to nine games (5g-7a) with his goal.
- Florida had gone 20 power plays without a goal before Tonge’s tally in the second period. It was the 'Blades first power-play goal since Nov. 2 against Toledo.
- Michael Huntebrinker (2a) has consecutive multi-point games after going the first 12 games of the season without a multi-point effort.
NEXT UPFlorida concludes its four-game week with a Sunday matinee against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Faceoff is set for 3:05 p.m. at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
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