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Fort-itude: 'Blades power past Komets for sixth straight win

Thursday, January 30th
Fort-itude: 'Blades power past Komets for sixth straight win

ESTERO, Fla. — Ken Appleby stopped 31 shots, and the Florida Everblades scored the final three goals of the game to earn a 5-2 win over the Fort Wayne Komets on Wednesday night at Hertz Arena. 

BOX SCORE

In their final game against a Western Conference team in the regular season, the Everblades (28-11-2-2, 60 pts.) had goals from five separate sources en route to winning their sixth straight game, which is tied for their season-high. 

After a scoreless first period, the two teams exploded for five combined goals and 48 combined penalty minutes in the second period. 

The 'Blades broke the scoreless tie 45 seconds into the second period. Swinging in behind the net, Joe Pendenza backhanded a pass once he reached the near post and found the stick of Kyle Neuber on the back door. Neuber snapped off a quick shot for his second goal of the season. 

Justin Auger added to the ‘Blades lead at 5:17 of the middle period to make it a 2-0 lead. Off a faceoff to the left of Fort Wayne goaltender Cole Kehler, Florida won possession, and Patrick McCarron threw a shot toward the net. That shot deflected to Auger, and he corralled a bouncing puck in the slot and ripped it past the glove side of Kehler. 

The Komets (20-16-5-2, 47 pts.) brought the game back within one at 7:36 of the second period. With the Komets active in the ‘Blades’ defensive end of the ice, the puck came back to Kyle Haas at the point for a slap shot that deflected in front off the stick of Drake Rymsha.

The Komets then scored on the power play to tie the game at 13:03 of the second stanza. Following a skirmish in front of Fort Wayne's bench that involved all the players on the ice, the 'Blades were assessed the extra penalty to send the Komets to the man advantage. Shawn Szydlowski wristed a knuckler from the right circle that beat Appleby through traffic.

Moments after a heavyweight bout between Cody Sol and Taylor Doherty, the ‘Blades rode the momentum and found the back of the net to regain a 3-2 lead with only 70 seconds to play in the second period. On a 3-on-2 rush into the Komets end, Michael Huntebrinker and Logan Roe crossed paths in the slot. Roe took the puck wide to the left circle and fired a shot that beat the short side of Kehler for what would end up being the game-winning goal.

The ‘Blades added an insurance tally in the third on a scramble in front of the Komets net, a sequence started by Kehler falling behind the net while trying to play the puck. Kehler got back to his crease to make the initial save, but just moments later, Michael Neville delivered a cross-crease pass to Hunter Garlent on the back door to make it a 4-2 game halfway through the third period.

Zach Magwood iced the game for the ‘Blades, netting his 15th goal of the year on an empty net in the game's final 75 seconds. 

BLADES BITES

  • Florida's winning streak of six games dates back to a Jan. 15 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings. The ‘Blades have won by two or more goals in all but one of the six victories.
  • Florida now has two six-game winning streaks this season and both have come since mid-December. The 'Blades also won six straight contests from Dec. 21-Jan. 4 and have 12 wins in their last 15 games. 
  • The ‘Blades (29 PIM) and Komets (39 PIM) combined for 68 penalty minutes, which is the second-highest total in a game involving Florida this season. 
  • The ‘Blades are 15-2-0-0 when Justin Auger records a goal. With Auger’s goal, he tied Blake Winiecki for the team lead with 18.
  • Defensive partners Patrick McCarron (1a) and Logan Roe (1g, 1a) each posted a +4 plus-minus rating in the game. 
  • Florida improved to 4-0-0-0 in Wednesday home games this season. 
  • Appleby has won five straight games — the longest winning streak by a 'Blades goaltender this season —  and leads the league with 19 wins. 

NEXT UPThe Everblades now head on the road for the final two games of the week. Florida's next game is on Friday night against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. 

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