ESTERO, Fla. – The Florida Everblades begin the 2020-21 regular season on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the Jacksonville Icemen at Hertz Arena. It will mark the Everblades’ first regular season ECHL contest since defeating Greenville 4-1 on March 7th. Florida will be led into the new campaign by head coach Brad Ralph for the fifth consecutive season. Under Ralph, the Blades have posted an impressive 192-63-23 record in the regular season.
The All-Star Returns: Fort Myers’ own Logan Roe is set to return for his sixth season with the Everblades. Roe represented the Everblades last season during the ECHL All-Star Classic and was named MVP of the event with two goals and five assists. Last season, Roe led Florida defensemen in goals (12) and points (38) and was named All-ECHL First Team on Defense. His play also earned him a call up to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.
Cam The Man: 2020-21 will see the return of goaltender Cam Johnson for the Everblades. Last season in 21 games with Florida, Johnson racked up a 13-5-1 record with a 2.32 GAA and .925 SV% along with two shutouts.
Nashville Additions: The Nashville Predators, National Hockey League affiliate for Florida, have loaned seven players to the Everblades, including forwards Lukas Craggs, Patrick Harper, Tanner Jeannot, Tommy Novak, Cole Smith and Josh Wilkins, plus goaltender Devin Cooley. The players will remain with the Everblades until the start of the training camps for either Nashville or American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.
Craggs previously played for the Blades in his rookie season in 2019-20. The forward appeared in 12 games for the Blades and notched 11 points (6g-5a). Jeannot also saw time with the Blades last season. In three appearances with Florida, Jeannot tallied five points (4g-1a). Novak suited up with Milwaukee last year, registering 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points in 60 games. Wilkins also skated with the Admirals last year in his rookie campaign. The Raleigh, North Carolina native totaled 15 points (3g-12a).
Harper, Smith and Cooley will be entering their rookie professional season in 2020-21. Harper played at Boston University, where he completed his senior season with 37 points (14g-23a). Smith finished his career at North Dakota with a career-high of 18 points his senior year. While Cooley suited up at the University of Denver, where he recorded a 2.08 GAA, .908 SV% and two shutouts in nine appearances.
More New Guys: Along with the reinforcements from Nashville, the Everblades added forwards Cameron Hebig, Alex Kile, and Myles Powell, along with defenseman Stefan LeBlanc.
Hebig impressed in first action with the Blades during the preseason, producing three goals and one assist in two games against Orlando.
In 2018, Kile was the first-ever player to sign with the Maine Mariners (ECHL). Last season, the Troy, Mich. native led the Mariners with 51 points (16g-35a).
Powell, named to the All-ECHL Rookie Team in 2018-19 with Cincinnati, added offense with three assists in the two preseason contests.
LeBlanc has seen extensive time in the AHL, most recently with the Utica Comets last season, notching two goals and collecting four assists over 32 games.
A Quick Look Back: The ECHL had its 2019-20 season cut short on Mar. 12 due to concerns over the COVID-19 virus. At the time of the stoppage, the Florida Everblades were tied with the South Carolina Stingrays for the league-lead in points (92). Through 62 games, the Blades earned a record of 43-13-4-2, second in win total to only South Carolina. When the season came to a halt, Florida was in the middle of a seven-game point streak, going 6-0-1-0 in that stretch.
The Everblades got off to a hot start in 2019-20 by winning four of their first five games. Then, after two months of hovering near the top of the South Division standings, Florida caught fire. On Jan. 15 against Kalamazoo the Everblades began a season-best eight-game winning streak with a 6-3 victory over the Wings. Including the win over Kalamazoo, Florida won 21 of its last 25 games before the season came to a halt.
Florida returns 16 players that skated at least one game with the team last year, including seven of the top 11 leading point-scorers from the 2019-20 squad.
Streaking: A couple Blades had hot sticks when the league stopped the season. Returning forward Michael Huntebrinker was riding a seven-game point streak that started on Feb. 23. Over those seven games, Huntebrinker scored six goals and four assists. Returning veteran forward Joe Pendenza recorded points in seven of the last nine games of the season.
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