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PREVIEW: 'Blades aim to clinch playoff spot on Saturday

Saturday, February 29th
PREVIEW: 'Blades aim to clinch playoff spot on Saturday

ESTERO, Fla. — In the middle game of a stretch of three games in three days, the Florida Everblades (39-13-3-2, 83 pts.) battle the Jacksonville Icemen (22-26-5-1, 50 pts.) for the third time in the last nine days on Saturday night at Hertz Arena.

VITALS:Game 58: Everblades vs. Jacksonville IcemenWhen: 7 p.m. ETWhere: Hertz ArenaTickets: TicketmasterWatch: ECHL TVListen: WJBX (101.5 FM, 104.3 FM, 770 AM)Social: Twitter | InstagramPromotion: Fur Circus Night

CLINCHING SCENARIOThe Everblades can clinch a berth in the 2020 Kelly Cup Playoffs on Saturday if:A) Florida wins in regulationB) Florida wins in overtime/shootout AND Atlanta losesC) Florida loses in overtime/shootout AND Atlanta loses in regulation

Last time outAfter the Everblades lost five players to AHL call-ups earlier in the week, Cam Johnson pitched a 32-save shutout, and Justin Auger helped created each of Florida’s first two goals to lead the ‘Blades to a gritty 3-0 win over the Newfoundland Growlers in their final non-division game of the season on Friday. Hunter Garlent had a pair of assists for Florida, while Michael Huntebrinker scored a goal halfway through the third period to help ensure the win. RECAP

Series At A GlanceSaturday marks the ninth of the 13 total meetings between Florida and Jacksonville this year and the sixth of eight matchups between the in-state rivals at Hertz Arena. Since Jacksonville won the first two head-to-head meetings this year, Florida has won six straight games in the series, including 6-3 and 5-4 wins last week. The 'Blades are 17-1-1 all-time at home against the Icemen and own a 28-4-3 overall record in the series. 

Players to WatchHunter Garlent (FLA) - With his multi-point game on Friday, Garlent kept us his torrid pace in the month of February. The rookie forward has recorded a point in all but two of the games in which he has suited up this month and has multiple points in six contests. The Thorold, Ontario, native is second in rookie scoring for the month with 15 points (5g, 10a) in 11 games. Garlent had four multi-point games in his first 40 games before his current offensive tear.  

John Albert (JAX) -  The ninth-year pro has spent the majority of his career at the AHL level, suiting up in 339 AHL contests since the 2011-12 campaign. Albert is in his first season in the ECHL and has tabbed 26 points (7g, 19a) in 38 games with Jacksonville this year. The Cleveland, Ohio, native and Ohio State University product has points in five of his last seven games, with nine points (2g, 7a) in that stretch. He netted two goals in Sunday's 5-4 loss to Florida. Home, Sweet HomeFriday's win was Florida's 100th home victory in the four-year tenure of head coach Brad Ralph. The Everblades are the only ECHL team to hit the century mark in home victories in that four-year span. In fact, only two other ECHL teams, the Cincinnati Cyclones and Toledo Walleye, have even 90 or more home wins over the last four years. 

PK Steps UpConsidering the circumstances, Florida's penalty-killing effort on Friday was maybe its best showing of the season. Entering the contest, Florida had allowed at least one power-play goal in nine straight games and was converting at just 68.9% (31-45) in that nine-game stretch. But facing the league's second-best power play — Newfoundland started the game with a 24.7% conversion rate — Florida went a perfect 6-for-6 while shorthanded. 

Shutout SquadAfter yielding three or more goals in four straight games, Florida stepped up defensively on Friday to earn its fifth shutout of the season. Because of the shutout, Florida now ranks tied for third in the ECHL in goals allowed per game (2.61). The five shutouts this season are already one more than the 'Blades totaled all of last season. 

Next UpThe Everblades finish off this season's second-to-last stretch of three games in three days with a Sunday afternoon road game against the Orlando Solar Bears. 

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2020 KELLY CUP PLAYOFF PACKAGESPackages for the 2020 Kelly Cup Playoffs are now on sale. For more information on Everblades Playoff Packages, click HERE.

BLADES 365 MEMBERSHIPS Blades 365 Memberships are now on sale for the 2020-21 season! Get great seat locations, big savings and exclusive year-round experiences with a Blades 365 Membership!

Purchase a new Blades 365 Membership for the 2020-21 season and receive a $20 gift card to Ford’s Garage and an Everblades tote bag! To view the Blades 365 Membership savings, benefits and options click HERE.

FOLLOW THE 'BLADESStay up to date with all the latest in news, scores, and promotions by following the 'Blades on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter

The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and AHL's Milwaukee Admirals

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