ESTERO, Fla. – On Saturday night, the Florida Everblades welcomed 2022 the same way the team closed out 2021, posting a win over the host Atlanta Gladiators, this time by a 6-2 count. Alex Aleardi was the offensive hero for the victorious Everblades, scoring two goals. All told, the Blades saw five different players record goals, nine different players pick up at least one point, and four different players register two assists apiece to help the Blades run their impressive road winning streak to seven games.
The Everblades struck first, as John McCarron converted a short-handed opportunity at the 12:31 mark of the first period. McCarron poked home a rebound of a shot by Blake Winiecki to give Florida a 1-0 lead that would hold up until the first intermission.
For Captain Everblade, the goal moved him into a tie for second-place all-time with his 133rd regular-season goals in an Everblades sweater. Just six days ago. McCarron potted his 150th Everblade goal, including playoffs, to grab a share of second place in that category.
In the second period, just over five minutes in, Aleardi lit the lamp for the first time of the evening after streaking down the middle of the ice from deep in his own zone to bury a wrist shot that put Florida on top 2-0. Ben Masella claimed his second assist of the night, while Chris McKay added a helper of his own.
Over the final 8:47 of the middle stanza, the teams traded four goals as Florida carried a 4-2 advantage into the second intermission.
Atlanta broke through for the first time in the series at 11:13 of the second period as Cody Sylvester’s 12th goal of the season trimmed the Blades’ lead to 2-1.
In the final 2:21 of the middle period, the goal scoring frenzy took hold. Aleardi restored the Everblades’ two-goal advantage at the 17:39 mark of the second, rattling in his second goal of the night and team-high 15th of the year to bump the Blades’ lead to 3-1. Levko Koper and Joe Pendenza added assists.
While Atlanta veteran Mike Pelech cut the Florida lead to 3-2 with a goal at 18:47, Jordan Sambrook picked a most opportune time for his first tally as an Everblade, tickling the twine with four seconds to go in the middle stanza. Winiecki collected his 20th assist of the season and Jake Jaremko pitched in with a helper of his own as the Blades led 4-2 after 40 minutes.
In the third period, Koper (12:19) and McKay (14:09) became the fourth and fifth Everblades to score a goal in the game Pendenza and Aleardi assisted on the Koper tally, while McCarron and Jaremko helped out on the McKay tally. Pendenza and Jaremko joined Winiecki and Masella with two assists each on the evening.
Cam Johnson (6-3-1-0) racked up 27 saves to earn his team-best sixth win of the year, while also running his road unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1-0).
With the win, the Blades extended their road winning streak to seven straight games, while also picking up a fourth win in their last five contests. One night removed from earning his 500th win as a head coach, Everblades head coach Brad Ralph earned his 250th win behind the Blades’ bench. Ralph is now 250-90-36 (.713) in his sixth season guiding the good guys from Estero.
The Everblades improved to 16-8-2-3 on the year, including a 12-0-2-1 mark on the road. Atlanta has dipped below the .500 mark and is now 12-13-2-1. The teams will wrap up their three-game series with a Sunday matinee at 3:00 pm.Following Sunday’s game, the Everblades will return to Southwest Florida for their first look at the South Carolina Stingrays on Friday, January 7 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, January 8 at 7:00 pm. Make plans to be a part of the action and purchase tickets for all future Everblades games HERE.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.