ESTERO, Fla. — Propelled by a 36-save effort by Cam Johnson, the Florida Everblades defeated the Jacksonville Icemen, their in-state rivals, by a 3-1 score on Wednesday at Hertz Arena to extend their winning streak to five games.
Facing the Icemen (22-29-5-1, 50 pts.) for the fourth time in 13 days, Florida (42-13-3-2, 89 pts.) yielded less than two goals for the third time in its last four games to beat Jacksonville for the eighth consecutive meeting.
Kyle Neuber put the ‘Blades on the board at 5:59 of the first period in his first game back after a four-game suspension. Hugo Roy received a pass from Ben Masella to enter the zone along the left-wing wall. As he rounded the circle, Roy backhanded a pass into the slot that redirected off a Jacksonville defender's stick and right to Neuber in the slot. Neuber wasted no time putting the puck on net to beat Icemen goalie Adam Carlson through his five-hole for his third goal of the year.
Johnson continued to be a wall in the second period for the ’Blades, making three highlight-reel saves in the last three minutes of the period to keep the ‘Blades up by one. Johnson's best of the bunch was his denial of a backdoor opportunity for the Icemen with under a minute to play in the period. Mike Hedden received a pass from the left point while standing at the side of the net, but Johnson slid over and gloved the shot on his blind side.
The ‘Blades got a five-on-three power-play opportunity early in the third period after Jacksonville's Chase Lang interfered with Johnson in his crease. Darik Angeli made the Icemen pay for the penalty, as he blasted a cannon of a one-time shot that beat the blocker side of Carlson.
The Icemen got the goal back just past the halfway point of the third period, a power-play strike from Bobby Lynch that spoiled Johnson's shutout. Jacksonville worked the puck around the 'Blades defensive zone, as Craig Martin sent the puck to Hedden at the bottom of the right circle. Hedden then quickly delivered it to the opposite circle for John Albert, and he dished to the slot for Bobby Lynch to redirect it past Johnson.
Florida forward Levko Koper has twice sealed games in the last week with an empty-netter, but he didn’t need to wait for Carlson to vacate the net to help the ‘Blades regain their two-goal lead late in the third. With 3:30 remaining in the game, Justin Auger’s rebound came off the pads of Carlson right into the slot for Koper to pounce on and sling into the back of the net.
The Icemen pulled Carlson for the extra attacker with over three minutes to play, but Johnson and the ‘Blades shut the door to improve to 8-1-0-1 against Jacksonville this season.
- The ‘Blades improved to 19-1-1-0 all-time against the Icemen on home ice. This season, the ‘Blades are 6-1-0-0 on home ice against Jacksonville.
- The ‘Blades have allowed only three total goals in their last four games, with a shutout from both Johnson and Ken Appleby in that four-game stretch.
- Since joining the ‘Blades in a trade with Norfolk, Darik Angeli has fit in well. In four games with his new team, Angeli has five points, including his first goal in a 'Blades jersey on Wednesday.
- The ‘Blades are 3-0-0-0 when Kyle Neuber scores a goal this season.
- Masella, the AMI Graphics Plus Performer of the Month in February, added to his league-leading plus-minus rating with a +2 performance on Wednesday to get him to +39 overall.
- Florida improved to 6-0-1-0 on home ice and 8-1-2-1 overall on Wednesdays this season.
- The Everblades have posted a 20-2-1-0 record in their last 23 games.
- Johnson is 9-1-0-0 in his last 11 starts since Nov. 29.
NEXT UPFlorida now travels to Jacksonville to finish the home-and-home series with the Icemen. Faceoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Friday at Veterans Memorial Arena.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and AHL's Milwaukee Admirals