ESTERO, Fla. - The Florida Everblades (1-0-0-0) routed the Jacksonville Icemen (0-1-0-0) by a score of 6-1 on Opening Night at Hertz Arena on Friday. The Everblades were led by a pair of goals and an assist from forward Lukas Craggs. By the end of the night, five different Blades had scored, and two rookies had recorded their first professional points. The Everblades play next on Saturday night against the Orlando Solar Bears.
Captain Leads the Way: The Everblades gained control early in the first period with a goal scored by captain John McCarron (7:02). The play started when Florida defensemen Ben Masella and Logan Roe stopped a Jacksonville odd-man rush and promptly sent the puck back up the ice. Forward Lukas Craggs skated the disc up the right wing and lifted the puck in front of the net where McCarron knocked it into the net with a baseball-like swing of the stick.
Craggs Hot Early: Lukas Craggs and Florida struck again when the Midwesterner from Illinois recorded his second point of the evening with a slapshot from the right circle (18:33). The play started in the corner with solid work along the boards by returning forward Joe Pendenza. After Pendenza got the puck to Alex Kile, Kile slid a pass across the slot to Craggs for the Blades’ second tally.
Call and Response: Jacksonville made their way onto the scoreboard midway through the second period with a wrap-around goal by Luke Shiplo.
At the 7:54 mark in the second period, the Blades responded. Ben Masella drove a shot from the point that Myles Powell tipped in the net from just outside the blue paint. Jacksonville goaltender Kyle Keyser was knocked down, and the play was reviewed for goaltender interference, but upheld to give Florida a 3-1 lead.
Rookie Appearance: Patrick Harper made it 4-1 in the second period and became the first Everblades rookie to score in the 2020-21 regular season when he lifted a rebound over Keyser's pad and into the net (10:55). Rookie Cole Smith also received his first professional point on the play by recording an assist.
Craggs on Fire: Craggs recorded his third point of the game with a goal in the second half of the second period (13:19). Pendenza found Craggs open at the right circle, and Craggs slammed a one-timer in the top corner for a 5-1 Florida lead.
Johnson Solid in Net: Florida netminder Cam Johnson looked stalwart in between the pipes all night for the Everblades. Johnson stopped all but one of the 28 shots that came his way, including a couple dangerous sequences from Jacksonville on the power play in the first and second periods.
Kile Adds Final Nail: The only goal of the third period occurred when Tanner Jeannot linked up with Alex Kile on a Blades power play for Kile’s first score of the season.
Head Coach Brad Ralph named John McCarron as captain and Logan Roe and Ben Masella as alternative captains for the 2020-2021 season.
Tonight’s game marked the beginning of John McCarrons’s fifth season with the Blades, and his third as captain. McCarron currently ranks fifth in club history in goals (91), assists (125) and points (216). Over the past two seasons, McCarron was also called up twice to the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League, where he appeared in a total of 23 games and registered eight points (4g-4a).
Fort Myers native Logan Roe was named an alternate captain by head coach Brad Ralph at the start of the season. The defenseman began his sixth Everblades stint with Friday’s game against the Icemen. 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. Along with his success in the All-Star Classic, Roe was tabbed an All-ECHL First Team selection on Defense.
Returning to the Everblades for a third straight season, Ben Masella was named an alternative captain alongside Roe. Masella led the ECHL with a +40 rating during the 2019-20 campaign while totalling 30 points (two goals, 28 assists) in 50 games. In the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs, Masella was a key component as he tied for the team lead in points by defensemen (10).
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BROADCAST NOTE: All Florida Everblades games will be available to watch this season on ECHL.TV, streaming on FloHockey.tv.
Fans can also listen to every Blades game on 101.5 FM (Bonita Springs/Naples), 104.3 FM (Fort Myers) and AM 770. In addition to airing games on radio in Southwest Florida, WJBX can also be streamed online at wjbxnewstalk.com
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.