ORLANDO, Fla. – Parker Gahagen registered a season-high 42 saves and Blake Winiecki snapped a 1-1 tie with his 20th goal of the season early in the second period to lift the Florida Everblades (23-13-3-3) to a 4-1 win over the Orlando Solar Bears (20-16-3-0) Thursday night at the Amway Center. Thursday’s win came in the first of five key matchups between the ECHL South Division rivals scheduled over a 10-day span.
The Sunshine State rivals exchanged a pair of goals in the opening period. Homestanding Orlando struck first just 3:22 into the game as Odeen Tufto swatted in a rebound past sprawling Gahagen and staked the Solar Bears to a 1-0 lead. The Blades’ Russell Jordan knotted the score at 1-1 with just 1:23 before the first intermission, blasting home his first goal as an Everblade off a feed from Jake Jaremko with Dylan Vander Esch earning a secondary assist. The Blades outshot the Bears 11-8 in the first period.
Neither team was able to light the lamp for the majority of the second period, but ECHL point leader Winiecki snapped the deadlock at 16:23 with an unassisted goal, his 20th of the season. Gahagen was brilliant in between the pipes over the middle 20 minutes, registering 18 saves as the Solar Bears outshot the Everblades 18-5 in period number two.
At 11:12 of the third period, with the Everblades enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage, John McCarron extended the Blades’ lead to 3-1, as he found the back of the net shooting through heavy traffic following assists by Stefan Leblanc and Alex Aleardi to notch his 17th goal of the season.
McCarron added his second goal of the night, his 18th of the year, collecting an empty-net goal at the 17:35 mark.
Gahagen earned his team-best eighth win of the season, while matching the season-high for saves by an Everblade goalie in 2021-22. Devin Cooley also posted 42 saves in a 5-1 victory over visiting Atlanta on December 18.
The Everblades and Solar Bears will return to the Amway Center ice Friday night at 7:00 pm before the series shifts to Hertz Arena for a Saturday night tilt at 7:00 pm. In addition to our Saturday Night Tailgate party featuring live music by James Prather from 5-7 pm, it will also be Beach Night! Break out your swim trunks & sunscreen courtesy of Molly Moo’s Ice Cream. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive an Everblades beach bag, presented by Molly Moo’s Ice Cream! Purchase your tickets HERE.
Read more about the Blades’ busy promotional schedule and great deals HERE.
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Become a member of the Florida Everblades family by securing a great seat location and big savings with a Blades 365 Membership!
Purchase a new Voucher 12 package that allows you to use 12 tickets in any quantity during the 2021-22 season to earn the exclusive benefits of being a Blades 365 Member! To view the Blades 365 Membership savings, benefits and options click HERE.
Everblades put the FUN in FUNdraising! There is no handling of money or tickets and no limit to the amount of money your group can make with the Everblades easy-to-run online Fundraiser! For more information, or to reserve a Fundraiser Night at an Everblades regular season home game, call or text (239) 948-7825.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.