ESTERO, Fla. — Five players tallied multi-point nights, and the Florida Everblades scored five unanswered goals to extend their home point streak to nine games (8-0-1-0) with a 6-3 win over the Orlando Solar Bears on Wednesday night at Hertz Arena.
In the first game of a four-game week, the ‘Blades (36-12-3-2, 77 pts.) received a 28-save performance from Ken Appleby, who picked up his league-leading 23rd win of the season, and a three-point night from Blake Winiecki (1g, 2a) to knock off the Solar Bears (24-22-5-1, 54 pts.) for the seventh time this season.
The ‘Blades struck first early in the first period, as Lukas Craggs scored his third goal in his last two games six minutes, 38 seconds into the game. The initial shot came off the stick of Cody Sol, and it went off Orlando goaltender Clint Windsor right to Craggs stationed in the slot. A quick whack of the puck sent it by Windsor to give the ‘Blades the lead.
But it was all Orlando for the remainder of the first period, as the Solar Bears produced three straight goals in five minutes to give themselves a two-goal lead by the first intermission.
Mikhail Shalagin tied the game at one for Orlando only 67 seconds after the ‘Blades tally on a two-on-one rush, firing a shot through the five-hole of Appleby from the left circle.
Cody Donaghey pushed the Solar Bears ahead with a power-play blast at 10:04 of the first, and Johno May made it a two-goal lead with a knuckling wrist shot over Appleby’s blocker at the 12:39 mark of period one.
Florida had a three-goal burst of its own in the second period to reclaim the lead. Justin Auger brought the ‘Blades back within a goal at 7:26 of the period. In the absence of Patrick McCarron, forward Cam Maclise was playing as the ‘Blades sixth defenseman. He cranked a slap shot on net that Auger redirected out in front of Windsor for his 23rd goal of the year.
A heavy forecheck by the ‘Blades brought the game back even at three at 11:44 of the second period. A big hit behind the Orlando net by Michael Huntebrinker forced a turnover that Winiecki pounced on at the right post and sent to Hunter Garlent in the left circle. Garlent then beat the blocker of Windsor to extend his goal streak to three games.
Maclise helped the ‘Blades grab the lead back at 14:26 of the period, setting up the play that ended with Winiecki slamming the puck past Windsor. Maclise leaned into a slap shot that went off the chest of Windsor, and the puck bounced to Brandon Fortunato on the right side of the net. Fortunato settled the puck and sent a pass through the slot to Winiecki on the back door for the goal.
The ‘Blades added two more goals in the third period to cushion their eventual victory. Hugo Roy scored on a three-on-zero zone rush only 1:21 into the final frame off a one-time feed from Ben Masella. Michael Huntebrinker struck on the power play just before the halfway mark of the third to give the ‘Blades their final goal of the night.
- Blake Winiecki’s three-point game moved his point streak to seven games, which ties his career-high from last season. He has five goals and five assists in his point streak.
- Lukas Craggs has been a force for the ‘Blades since being sent down by Milwaukee. He has recorded at least a point in six of the seven games since being reassigned from the AHL on Feb. 7, totaling four goals and four assists in that stretch.
- Cam Maclise made a different kind of impact for the ‘Blades Wednesday, shifting back to defense for the first time in his career. The 6-foot-4, 201-pound natural forward collected two assists from the back end and finished as a +3 rating.
- Everblades rookie Hugo Roy has shown out in the second half of the season. He’s currently riding a four-game point streak that has seen him post three goals and three assists, including a two-point performance (1g, 1a) against Orlando.
- Florida’s home point streak is now just three games shy of the longest in head coach Brad Ralph’s four-year tenure, a 12-game home point streak last season.
- The ‘Blades have registered five or more goals six times during the current home point streak, totaling 39 goals over their last nine home tilts.
- Florida has converted on six of its last 21 power plays (28.6%) and has a power-play goal in five of its last seven games.
Next UpFlorida continues its four-game week with a Friday night matchup against the Jacksonville Icemen, the first of the Everblades' two games against Jacksonville this week.
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