Estero, FLA. - The Florida Everblades opened the 2020-21 preseason with a 5-4 win over the Orlando Solar Bears on Friday night in Hertz Arena.
The Solar Bears began the scoring with a goal by forward Adam Rockwood only 1:13 into the first period. Down 1-0, the Blades answered by adding three consecutive goals. Rookie Stephen Anderson scored first for the Blades and tied the game at 1-1 off a rebound from a Connor Sills shot (2:17). Friday was both Anderson and Sills’ first professional game.
Following Anderson’s goal, the Everblades stretched the lead to 3-1 with goals scored by centers Blake Winiecki (3:20) and Joe Pendenza (4:40). Winiecki’s tally came after captain John McCarron kept a play alive in the corner and fed Winiecki in the low slot. Rookie Alex Smith and newcomer Tommy Marchin assisted on Pendenza’s score.
Late in the first, Orlando responded with a goal of their own by forward Taylor Cammarata (18:53).
Almost nine minutes into the second period, Myles Powell forced a turnover that deflected the puck to winger Alex Kile (8:53) to give Florida a 4-2 lead.
With 9:38 remaining in the second frame, rookie goaltender Adrian Clark replaced starter Cam Johnson in net. Friday saw Clark’s first professional action, and the Dartmouth product stopped nine of 11 shots.
Orlando’s Nikita Pavlyche brought it back to a 4-3 game with a goal at 17:29 in the second. Then, in the closing ticks of the middle period, Blake Winiecki found Cameron Hebig with a pass through the slot that Hebig tapped in with 0.4 seconds left to make it 5-3.
Hebig’s score turned out to serve as the game-winner as the Blades withstood a third period rally by Orlando and a goal from Peter Abbandonato (13:13).
The Everblades will face off against the Solar Bears Saturday Dec 5 at 7:00 p.m. in Hertz Arena for the final preseason game of the season. The following weekend, the Everblades begin the 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 11 when they take on the Jacksonville Icemen at home in Hertz Arena.
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