WHO: Florida Everblades vs. Orlando Solar BearsWHERE: Amway Center (Orlando, FL)WHEN: Thursday, March 24 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. – The Florida Everblades open a three-in-three road trip Thursday with a 7:00 pm tilt against the Orlando Solar Bears in Central Florida’s Amway Center. Winners of the last four matchups between the clubs by a combined 18-7 margin, the Everblades enter Thursday night’s contest having picked up nine of a possible 10 points in the team’s last five games against three different opponents (4-0-1-0).
THE OPPONENT: The ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, the Solar Bears (29-27-4-0, 62 points) are in a battle with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (27-25-4-3, 61 points) in the race for the fourth and final South Division spot in the upcoming Kelly Cup Playoffs. Both the Bears and Rabbits have .517 points percentages. With 11 games to play, Orlando has dropped five straight contests and has posted a 4-6-0-0 mark over the past 10 outings, allowing the Swamp Rabbits to close the gap with seven wins in their last 10, including four straight victories.
THE SERIES: In 12 meetings against the Solar Bears this season, the Everblades have posted a 7-4-1-0 record, including a 4-3 tally in games played at Hertz Arena and a 3-1-1 mark in games played in Orlando. The Blades have won each of the last four meetings between the rivals, outscoring the Bears 18-7 in the process, while turning in two shutout victories.
LAST TIME OUT: The Everblades made it four straight wins over the Solar Bears, defeating visiting Orlando 3-2 Saturday night at Hertz Arena. After spotting the Bears a goal midway through the opening period, Nathan Perkovich knotted the game at 1-1 with his 14th goal of the season in the final minute of the frame. Blake Winiecki knocked home his 26th marker of the season in the closing minute of the second period to extend the lead to 2-1. While the Solar Bears leveled the score six minutes into the final frame, Dylan Vander Esch picked up the game winner 11 seconds later with his 13th of the season. Levko Koper had two assists, while Cam Johnson made 17 saves en route to the victory.
SOUTH DIVISION SUPREMACY: While Orlando is in a battle for the South Division’s fourth and final spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Everblades are in search of the division’s top spot with 12 regular-season games left on the schedule. The Blades (34-17-5-4, 77 points) sit in second place with a .642 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 BEAR NECESSITIES: In 13 matchups against Orlando, John McCarron leads all Everblades skaters with 11 goals and 18 points in 11 games, while Blake Winiecki has collected five goals and a team-high 10 assists for 15 points in 12 games. Joe Pendenza comes in just behind that duo with 14 points on seven goals and seven assists, while Levko Koper has 12 points on two goals and 10 helpers. In net, the recently-promoted Cam Johnson has posted a 4-1 record with a 2.82 GAA while Parker Gahagen (2-1-0-0) sports a 1.35 GAA and a .960 save percentage. Tomas Vomacka (2-2-1-0) carries a 2.42 GAA.
THEY LEAD AND WE FOLLOW: Entering the new week, John McCarron and Blake Winiecki are both tied for seventh in the ECHL with 61 points apiece. McCarron ranks tied for fifth with 27 goals, while Winiecki is seventh with 26 tallies. In the assists department, Winiecki is tied for 15th with 35 assists, while McCarron and Joe Pendenza both have 34 and are tied for 17th.
OUR OWN PRIVATE IDAHO: After games in Jacksonville 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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2022 Kelly Cup Playoff Packages are now on sale. Join the Blades in their pursuit for a second Kelly Cup title! To learn more, call or text (239) 948-7825.
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 2022-23 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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Watch every Florida Everblades game on FloHockey.TV. Listen to the exciting game action on ESPN Southwest Florida on 770 AM, 98.1 FM, 104.3 FM and online at https://espnswfl.com or Mixlr at www.mixlr.com/florida-everblades.
The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.