ESTERO, Fla. – After splitting the first two games of the Kelly Cup division semifinal series on Hertz Arena ice, the Florida Everblades and Greenville Swamp Rabbits headed north for the first of three games Wednesday night at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C. The Everblades claimed their second 4-3 overtime victory of the series to regain a 2-1 series lead.
The crucial fourth game of the series will take place Friday night in Greenville at 7:05 pm. An Everblades win would extend the good guys’ lead to 3-1, while a Swamp Rabbits victory would knot the series at two games apiece and guarantee that the series would shift back to Hertz Arena for a game six on Monday, May 2 after one more matchup in Greenville on Saturday, April 30.
Jacksonville wrapped up the first of the eight ECHL division semifinal series, closing out a 4-0 sweep of Atlanta Thursday evening. The Icemen now await the winner of the Everblades-Greenville series. In the north division of the eastern conference, Newfoundland is ahead of Trois-Rivières 3-1, while Reading is in front of Maine 2-1. Out west, Cincinnati leads Toledo 3-2 and Wheeling is in front of Fort Wayne 2-1 in the central division, while in the mountain, Utah is in front of Tulsa are tied 3-2 and Rapid City enjoys a 2-1 edge over Allen.
2022 KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS (Presented by Lexus dealers of Southwest Florida)
FIRST ROUND AT A GLANCEEverblades Lead Series 2-1
Game 1 Friday, April 22 Everblades 4, Swamp Rabbits 3 (OT)
Game 2 Saturday, April 23 Swamp Rabbits 5, Everblades 3
Game 3 Wednesday, April 27 Everblades 4, Swamp Rabbits 3 (OT)
Game 4 Friday, April 29 Everblades at Swamp Rabbits Bon Secours Wellness Arena 7:05 pm
Game 5 Saturday, April 30 Everblades at Swamp Rabbits Bon Secours Wellness Arena 7:05 pm
Game 6 * Monday, May 2 Swamp Rabbits at Everblades Hertz Arena 7:30 pm
Game 7 * Wednesday, May 4 Swamp Rabbits at Everblades Hertz Arena 7:30 pm
Home Games in Bold * Games 6 and 7, if NecessaryNEWS AND NOTES
GAME THREE RECAP: Alex Aleardi scored a power-play goal 7:41 into overtime to propel the Florida Everblades to a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in game three of the 2022 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs South Division Semifinal Wednesday night in Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Levko Koper scored in the opening period and Matteo Gennaro found the net in the second to lift the Blades out of a 1-0 first period hole, but Greenville fought back to tie the game at 2-2 after two frames. In the third period. Jake Jaremko scored the only even-strength goal of the match just 2:13 in, but Anthony Rinaldi’s power-play goal at 9:30 knotted the game, which headed to overtime before Aleardi sealed the deal for Florida. Cam Johnson made 29 saves in his return to the Everblades lineup, while John Lethemon registered 30 for the Swamp Rabbits. In addition to Jaremko recording two points on a goal and an assist, Joe Pendenza notched two helpers for the Blades, who received assists from five different players.
ALEARDI TURNS BACK TIME: Alex Aleardi’s game-winning overtime goal in game three on Wednesday was not the first of his Everblades postseason career. The Fort Wayne, Indiana native now has two. Aleardi previous netted a game-winner all the way back on April 22, 2015 when he collected the only goal in the Everblades’ 1-0 OT playoff victory over visiting Orlando. In that contest, the teams combined for 64 shots and the only one to find twine came from Aleardi. And by the way… Aleardi’s game-winner came in game seven of the Kelly Cup division semifinals.
SPECIAL TEAMS SIX PACK: With both teams notching a pair of power-play goals and adding a shorthanded goal, six of the seven goals in the Blades’ 4-3 overtime win on Wednesday were of the special teams variety. The six combined special teams goals matched the most in an Everblades game this season, as Florida and Orlando combined for six in the Blades’ 6-5 victory on March 12 In that contest, Florida had three power play goal and one shortie, while the Solar Bears notched two power-play goals.
PLAYOFF PRODUCERS AND SERIES STREAKERS: With two assists in Wednesday night’s game three victory, Joe Pendenza took over the Everblades point scoring lead with five total points on a team-high five assists. Blake Winiecki is right behind Pendenza with four points on one goal and three assists, while a trio of Blades – Matteo Gennaro (2 G, 1 A), Jake Jaremko (1 G, 2 A) and Stefan Leblanc (1 G, 2 A)– all have three points. Nine different players have combined to score the Blades’ 11 playoff goals, with Gennaro and Alex Aleardi the only Florida players with two goals in the Greenville series. With their offensive prowess in the series Pendenza and Gennaro are the only Everblades sporting three-game point streaks in this year’s Kelly Club Playoffs.
THE BOSS CLOSES IN ON A MILESTONE: Entering game four, Everblades head coach Brad Ralph ranks fifth in ECHL postseason history with 91 games coached and 49 wins. In his sixth season behind the Blades’ bench, the ninth-year ECHL heading coaching veteran needs one more ECHL playoff victory to reach 50.
OVERTIME MAGIC: During the regular season, the Everblades complied a 5-6 record in games that ended in overtime. After losses in the first three regular-season games that ended in extra time, the Blades righted the ship, winning five of the next eight. With both of this season’s playoff wins coming in overtime, the Blades are 7-3 in their last 10 overtime playoff games, including five wins in their last six. In the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, Florida is the only team with two OT victories.
OUT BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN: Despite serving a two-game suspension that keeps him out of games three and four, with his next appearance, John McCarron will compete for 409th time as a Florida Everblade. That will lift Johnny Mac into a tie for third place all-time in games played, tying him with Logan Roe (2015-21). Currently at 408 games played, including regular season and playoffs, McCarron is 10 games shy of Mathieu Roy (2008-14) who ranks second with 418 career appearances and 12 away from Ernie Hartlieb (2004-14, 2019) who leads the way with 420 games played. During the 2021-22 regular season, Captain Everblade became the franchise career record holder in goals (170), assists (231) and points (401).
EASTSIDE, WESTSIDE, ALL AROUND THE ECHL: Jacksonville wrapped up the first of the eight ECHL division semifinal series, closing out a 4-0 sweep of Atlanta Thursday evening. The Icemen now await the winner of the Everblades-Greenville series. In the north division of the eastern conference, Newfoundland is ahead of Trois-Rivières 3-1, while Reading is in front of Maine 2-1. Out west, Cincinnati leads Toledo 3-2 and Wheeling is in front of Fort Wayne 2-1 in the central division, while in the mountain, Utah is in front of Tulsa are tied 3-2 and Rapid City enjoys a 2-1 edge over Allen.
BLADES KELLY CUP HISTORY: In the franchise’s 24th season, the Everblades have qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs every season except for one. The Blades have advanced to the Kelly Cup finals four times and are seeking their second Kelly Cup championship, having hoisted the hardware previously in 2012.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.