WHO: Florida Everblades vs. Jacksonville IcemenWHERE: Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena (Jacksonville, Fla)WHEN: Friday, March 25 at 7:00 pmBROADCAST: Watch every Florida Everblades game on FloHockey.TV. Listen to the exciting game action online on MIxlr by visiting www.mixlr.com/florida-everblades.
ESTERO, Fla. – Following Thursday night’s 4-3 overtime setback in Orlando, the Florida Everblades continue their three-in-three road trip with a Friday night matchup against the Jacksonville Icemen. The puck drops in the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena at 7:00 pm. Florida looks to avenge a 5-4 overtime loss in the teams’ last matchup on March 16 at Hertz Arena. Friday’s contest is the first of two between the South Division rivals.
THE OPPONENT: The ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack, the Jacksonville Icemen (34-20-3-2, 73 points) are right in the thick of the chase for the South Division regular-season title. With a .619 points percentage, the Icemen sit in third place in the South with 13 games left on their regular-season slate. Jacksonville is winless in their past two contests (0-1-1-0) and has posted a 4-5-1-0 mark over the past 10 games, losing ground to the Atlanta Gladiators and the Everblades, who sit one-two atop the South Division standings.
THE SERIES: In eight meetings against the Icemen this season, the Everblades have turned in a 2-1-2-3 record, but have picked up at least one point in seven of the eight games. The squads have met four times at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena, with the Blades posting a 2-0-1-1 record. Florida has won the last two meetings of the clubs played in North Florida, as the Everblades notched a 3-2 shutout victory on February 25 and a 3-1 triumph back on November 27. Bonus hockey has been the standard this season as six of the eight contests have gone into extra time, with four requiring a shootout.
LAST TIME OUT: The Florida Everblades (34-17-6-4) settled for five of six possible points in their series spanning the previous three games against the Orlando Solar Bears (30-27-4-0) on Thursday night when they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision at Amway Center. The Blades controlled the majority of the opening period, stringing together goals from Jordan Sambrook (6:51) and Joe Pendenza (14:59) for a 2-0 lead. Dylan Vander Esch and Avery Peterson recorded the assists on both plays. Orlando would string together three goals – one in the first period and two in the middle frame to take a 3-2 into the second intermission. The third period’s only mark came from John McCarron, who ultimately forced overtime for the Blades with a shorthanded goal at 6:23. In OT, the Everblades could not contain the Solar Bears any longer as Maxim Cajkovic tipped in a shot along the net for the 4-3 Orlando win.
CHASER FOR SOUTH SUPERIORITY: The Everblades remain squarely in the chase for the South Division’s top spot with 11 regular-season games left on the schedule. The Blades (34-17-6-4, 78 points) sit in second place with a .639 points percentage, hot on the heels of first-place Atlanta (38-19-3-1, 80 points) which boasts a .656 points percentage. Jacksonville (34-20-3-2, 73 points) is in third place with a .619 points percentage. Atlanta and Jacksonville have 11 and 13 games, respectively, remaining on the schedule.
THE COLD NEVER BOTHERED THEM ANYWAY: In eight games versus Jacksonville, Alex Aleardi and Joe Pendenza have led the way for the Blades, as they have torched the Icemen for nine points and eight points, respectively. Aleardi has registered team highs with nine points and five goals to go with four assists in just six contests. Pendenza has posted eight points on a team-high five helpers to go with three goals. Jake Jaremko and Dylan Vander Esch have notched three goals apiece versus Jacksonville, while Blake Winiecki has a pair. Among Florida netminders, Parker Gahagen has picked up both of the team’s wins, turning in a 2-0-1-1 record with a 2.72 GAA.
BIG TIME LEADERS: Entering the set at Jacksonville, John McCarron and Blake Winiecki stand seventh and eighth in the ECHL with 62 and 61 points, respectively. McCarron is tied for third with 28 goals, while Winiecki is seventh with 26 tallies. In the assists department, Winiecki is tied for 13th with 35 assists, while McCarron and Joe Pendenza both have 34 and are tied for 17th.
GO SHAWTY! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!: Well, it’s not his birthday until April 16, but Captain Everblade John McCarron is the king of the shorthanded goal. McCarron registered his sixth shorthanded goal of the season in Thursday’s overtime setback versus Orlando to pad his ECHL lead. No other ECHL player has converted more than four shorties this season. While McCarron leads the circuit with a half-dozen man-down tallies, six players – including the Blades’ Joe Pendenza – are tied for second with four. In fact, McCarron has more shorthanded goals in his bag of tricks this season that eight of the 27 ECHL teams.
OUR OWN PRIVATE IDAHO: After games in Jacksonville on Friday and Saturday, the Everblades will return home on Wednesday, March 30 for the first of three games against the Idaho Steelheads at 7:30 pm. Action is also slated for Friday, April 1 and 7:30 pm and Saturday, April 2 at 7:00 pm. This series will mark the only meeting between the Blades and the Steelheads, who will make the 2,763-mile trek to Hertz Arena from Boise.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.