DULITH, Ga. – Levko Koper scored twice, five other players scored goals and the Florida Everblades rode a three-goal second and third period to earn an impressive and important 7-1 victory over the Atlanta Gladiators Wednesday night at Gas South Arena. With the win, the Everblades (39-19-6-4) moved into a tie with the Gladiators (42-22-3-1) for first place in the ECHL South Division, as both teams sport 88 points and identical .647 points percentages with just four games left on their respective regular-season schedules.
In addition to the team posting a season-high seven goals, Everblades’ netminder Parker Gahagen (18-9-2-1) recorded 23 saves to win his fifth consecutive game, the longest winning streak assembled by a Florida goaltender this season.
The opening frame belonged to the Everblades, as the good guys picked up the opening goal of the contest for the first time in the past seven games. Dylan Vander Esch staked the Blades to a 1-0 lead with his 15th marker of the season, just 1:44 after the opening draw, striking gold from the low slot off feeds from Zach Solow and Jordan Sambrook. The opening tally would prove to be a harbinger of good things to come, as the Everblades entered play sporting a 14-1-5 record when scoring first in games away from Hertz Arena.
Carrying a 1-0 lead into the second period, the Everblades really turned up the offense in the middle frame, scoring three goals in a stretch of four minutes and 17 seconds. At the 3:03 mark, Matteo Gennaro doubled the Blades’ lead, knocking in a centering feed from Darik Angeli for his 11th goal of the season. Lukas Kaelble also registered an assist on the play as Florida opened up a 2-0 advantage.
Adding to the lead, Naples native Zach Solow blasted a shot over Atlanta netminder Chris Nell from the edge of the right circle to run the Blades’ advantage to 3-0 at the 5:40 mark. Solow picked up his second tally of the season with Kaelble and Gennaro earning the helpers for their second assist and second point of the night, respectively.
John McCarron padded the Everblades’ lead to 4-0 just 14 seconds into a man advantage for his 29th goal of the year at the 7:20 mark. McCarron tipped in a blast from Blake Winiecki past Nell, with Stefan Leblanc also registering an assist.
Levko Koper kept up the offense in the third period, collecting his 10th goal of the season off a shot from the left circle six minutes into the final frame with assists going to Jake Jaremko and Xavier Bouchard. In giving Florida a 5-0 lead, Koper became the eighth player to score double-digit goals while donning the Blades’ colors this season.
Bouchard made it 6-0, putting in a blast from just inside the Atlanta blue line at 11:57 of the third, with assists going to Angeli and McCarron.
Koper’s second goal of the night, a shorthanded tally for his 11th of the year at the 15:34 mark extended the lead to 7-0.
A shorthanded goal by Atlanta’s Gabe Guertler with 1:28 to play spoiled Gahagen’s bid for his fifth shutout of the season.
While 12 different players registered points for the Everblades, for recent roster additions Gennaro, Kaelble and Solow, their two-point performances marked their first multiple-point games in Everblade sweaters this season.
Both Florida and Atlanta have already qualified for the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs and have four regular-season games remaining on the schedule. Following games on Friday and Saturday which see the Everblades traveling to South Carolina and Atlanta hosting Jacksonville, the Blades and Gladiators will meet up for two critical contests inside Hertz Arena on Friday, April 15 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, April 16 at 7:00 pm
The Blades’ four-game road trip continues on Friday, as the Blades head to the Palmetto State for the first of back-to-back games against the South Carolina Stingrays. The puck drops inside North Charleston Coliseum at 7:05 pm.
Following the current road trip, the Everblades will return to Hertz Arena for the penultimate game of the regular season on Friday, April 15 against the Atlanta Gladiators. During each Friday home game of the 2021-22 season, fans can enjoy the action with a 239 ticket package, which pays tribute to Southwest Florida's area code and provides a great deal! You get two premium seat tickets, two autographed programs, and two Molly Moo ice creams for just $39! The action begins at 7:30 pm and tickets can be purchased HERE.
Read more about the Blades’ busy promotional schedule and great deals HERE.
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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