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PREVIEW: 'Blades host Komets in final non-conference bout

Wednesday, January 29th
PREVIEW: 'Blades host Komets in final non-conference bout

ESTERO, Fla. — Winners of five straight games, the Florida Everblades (27-11-2-2, 58 pts.) aim to match their longest winning streak of the season when they host the Fort Wayne Komets (20-15-5-2, 47 pts.) on Wednesday night at Hertz Arena. 

VITALS:Game 43: Everblades vs. Fort Wayne KometsWhen: 7:30 p.m. ETWhere: Hertz ArenaTickets: TicketmasterWatch: ECHL TVListen: WJBX (101.5 FM, 104.3 FM, 770 AM)Social: Twitter | InstagramPromotion: Hump Day Deals

Last time outCam Johnson made a career-high 37 saves between regulation and overtime and then stopped all three shooters he faced in the ensuing shootout to lift the Everblades to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Jacksonville Icemen on Saturday night at Hertz Arena. In the sixth meeting of the year between the two teams, Florida received goals from John McCarron and Blake Winiecki in regulation. Winiecki then scored the only goal of the shootout to give Florida its fourth straight win against the Icemen. RECAP

Series At A GlanceThe midweek affair between Florida and Fort Wayne is the 13th all-time meeting and the second matchup between the squads this season. The Komets won the first tilt in Fort Wayne on Nov. 1, as they scored the final four goals of the game to overcome a 2-0 deficit that they faced in the first five minutes of period two. The most recent matchup in Estero came nearly five years ago, with the 'Blades winning a 3-2 decision on Feb. 11, 2015. Florida leads the all-time series with a 7-4-1 record, including a 2-1-1 mark in Estero. 

Players to WatchBlake Winiecki (FLA) - The second-year pro continues to be Florida’s go-to source of offense and leads the team in goals (18) and is tied for the team lead in points (36). Winiecki's shootout tally on Saturday was the sixth of his career, and five of his shootout goals have wound up being the winning goal. Winiecki has struck three times on four opportunities in a shootout this season, with his three tallies good for the league lead in that category. 

Cole Kehler (FW) - The reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Week, Kehler permitted just three goals in two starts last week. He finished with 42 saves in a 2-1 win over the Indy Fuel on Friday and then turned out 45 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Toledo Walleye on Sunday. Kehler is 11-6-3 with two shutouts in 21 appearances with the Komets this season. The Los Angeles Kings prospect ranks 10th in the ECHL with a 2.64 goals-against average and is tied for seventh with a .916 save percentage.  

Non-Conference FinaleWednesday is Florida's final non-conference game of the year and one of only two non-division games left for the 'Blades this season. Of the seven teams in the South Division, the 'Blades have played the most games against non-division foes to-date this season. The matchup against Fort Wayne will be the Everblades' 13th non-division game this year. Florida will play 14 games against non-South Division teams, four more out-of-division tilts than it played last season. Last year, Florida played just three non-conference games, and all three came against Rapid City in a three-game set from Jan. 16-19. 

Johnny on the SpotJohnson's career night on Saturday was almost two months in the making. The second-year pro had missed 20 straight games after he left in the second period of Florida's eventual 3-2 shootout loss to Jacksonville on Dec. 4. Coincidentally, he made his return to the lineup against the Icemen to earn the win by the same score. The product of the University of North Dakota has the two highest save totals by a 'Blades netminder this season. He stopped 36 shots against Fort Wayne on Nov. 1, a save total that was his previous career-high.

Next UpThe Everblades continue a three-game week with two key games this weekend in South Carolina. Florida battles the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Friday and the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday. 

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