ESTERO, Fla. – After winning their eighth straight playoff game with a 4-3 victory over the Newfoundland Growlers Wednesday night in Game Three of the ECHL Kelly Cup Eastern Conference Finals, the Florida Everblades hold a 3-0 lead in the series and are one win away from clinching a spot in the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time since 2018. Game Four of the best-of-seven series is slated for Hertz Arena Friday night at 7:30 pm.
Florida’s eight-game playoff winning streak eclipses the longest winning streak the team posted during the regular season, when the Blades captured six straight victories from February 18-27. That eight-game stretch was part of a nine-game unbeaten streak that covered February 13-28.
The Everblades are making their first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since 2019 and the sixth conference finals appearance in franchise history. The Blades are 4-2 all-time in the Eastern Finals, picking up series wins in 2004, 2005, 2012 and 2018, while coming up short in 2007 and 2019. Florida went on to win the Kelly Cup in 2012.
Should the series require a Game Five, that contest would take place Saturday, May 28 in Estero at 7:00 pm. If needed, Games Six and Seven would be contested in Newfoundland on Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1, with the puck drop slated for 5:30 pm EST both nights.
Fans unable to catch any of the Eastern Conference Finals games in person can watch every Florida Everblades game on FloHockey.TV. In addition, fans can listen to the exciting game action on ESPN Southwest Florida at www.espnswfl.com or 770 AM, 98.1 FM, 104.3 FM.
2022 Kelly Cup Playoff Tickets 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 or purchase HERE.
2022 KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS – EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS AT A GLANCEEverblades Lead Series 3-0
Game 1 Friday, May 20 Everblades 4, Growlers 3 (OT)
Game 2 Sunday, May 22 Everblades 2, Growlers 0
Game 3 Wednesday, May 25 Everblades 4, Growlers 3
Game 4 Friday, May 27 Growlers at Everblades Hertz Arena 7:30 pm EST
Game 5 * Saturday, May 28 Growlers at Everblades Hertz Arena 7:00 pm EST
Game 6 * Tuesday, May 31 Everblades at Growlers Mary Brown’s Centre 7:00 pm NST / 5:30 pm EST
Game 7 * Wednesday, June 1 Everblades at Growlers Mary Brown’s Centre 7:00 pm NST / 5:30 pm EST
Home Games in Bold * Games 5, 6 and 7, if Necessary
NEWS AND NOTES
GAME THREE RECAP: Four different Everblades scored goals and Cam Johnson ran his postseason record to 10-0-1 with 25 saves as Florida topped Newfoundland 4-3 to take a three-games-to-none lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Blades jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a goal by Alex Aleardi just 26 ticks into the contest and a tally from Stefan Leblanc at 12:44. The Growlers knotted the score at 2-2 with markers from Orrin Centarro at 13:32 of the first and Jeremy McKenna at 7:59 of the second. Chris McKay scored in the final second of the middle period to give the Blades a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish. The teams trade goals in the final stanza, as Matteo Gennaro made the score 4-2 with his sixth of the playoffs at 8:21 before Newfoundland’s Zach O’Brien trimmed the lead to 4-3 with the night’s final goal at 13:58.
KNOW WHAT’S GREAT? EIGHT STRAIGHT!: Victories in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals have stretched the Everblades’ winning streak to eight games. Florida’s eight-game playoff winning streak eclipses the longest winning streak the team posted during the regular season, when the Blades captured six straight victories from February 18-27. That eight-game stretch was part of a nine-game unbeaten streak that covered February 13-28. The current eight-game run dates back to Game Six of the South Division Semifinals versus Greenville and also includes a four-game sweep of Jacksonville in the South Division Finals. During the eight-game run, the Everblades have outscored the opposition 25-10, while pitching four shutouts and allowing one goal or less five times. Florida has also won four in a row at Hertz Arena in which the good guys hold a 16-7 scoring edge.
CAM ONE SHUTOUT SHY OF THE RECORD BOOKS: With four shutouts in the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, Everblades’ netminder Cam Johnson is tied for second place for the most shutouts by an ECHL goaltender in one playoff season. Johnson has blanked the opposition in four of the past seven games and is one clean sheet shy of matching the 23-year old record of five set by Maxime Gingras of the Richmond Renegades back in 1999. Through 11 playoff appearances this season, Johnson sports a 10-0-1 record, tied with Toledo’s Billy Christopoulos (10-2-2) for the league lead in playoff wins. Johnson’s microscopic 1.53 GAA and stellar .939 save percentage trails only Jacksonville’s Charles Williams, who logged a 1.32 GAA and a .952 save percentage over four appearances through the first two rounds of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Johnson is the only ECHL goalie to record multiple shutouts in the current postseason.
DEFENSE CONTINUES TO SPARKLE: Through their first 13 Kelly Cup Playoff games, the Everblades (11-1-1) continue to sport the ECHL’s stingiest postseason defense, as they have surrendered just 2.00 goals per game, outscoring their opponents 41-26 and outshooting them 449-347. The Blades held Newfoundland (8-8-1) to just three goals in Games One and Three of the Eastern Conference Finals, while shutting out the Growlers in Game Two, reversing a trend in which Newfoundland scored four or more goals in four straight games. The Growlers are currently 0-7 when scoring fewer than four goals this postseason, while on the flip side, they are 8-1 when putting four or more pucks in the opponent’s net.
SCORE QUICK GOAL, WIN GAME: Alex Aleardi’s goal just 26 seconds into the Everblades’ 4-3 Game Three win in the Eastern Conference Finals was the Blades’ quickest goal of the playoffs, but it was just the third quickest goal that the Everblades recorded in 2021-22. In the regular season, the Everblades registered two goals in the opening minute of play. Including Aleardi’s tally, each of the Blades’ first-minute goals came in Florida victories. Jake Jaremko found the back of the net just 13 seconds into Florida 3-2 win at Jacksonville on February 25, eclipsing John McCarron’s marker just 17 seconds into the Everblades’ 3-2 victory over Orlando way back on November 17.
LEBLANC’S POWER PLAY PROWESS: Everblades defenseman Stefan Leblanc’s power play goal in the opening period of Game Three was his fourth goal of the Kelly Cup Playoffs and all four have come on the power play. With four man-up goals in the postseason, Leblanc ranks second among ECHL blueliners and is tied for second among all skaters. During the 2021-22 regular season, Leblanc lit the lamp just once, and it came on the power play in a 4-3 victory over South Carolina on February 19 at Hertz Arena.
LAST SECOND MAGIC FROM McKAY: Chris McKay’s marker at 19:59 of the second period of Game Three was the first goal scored by an Everblade in the final second of any period this season. During the regular season, John McCarron picked up two different goals at the 19:58 mark, with both goals occurring in road games against the Atlanta Gladiators. Captain Everblade scored with two seconds remaining in regulation of a 3-2 overtime setback on January 2, and also picked up a tally with two seconds left in the second period of a 4-2 loss on January 17, a goal that gave Florida a 2-1 lead in that contest
GENNARO BACK IN THE SCORING COLUMN: Matteo Gennaro picked up his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs in Game Three of the Eastern Finals. Gennaro last picked up a point with a goal in Game Two of the Division Finals against Jacksonville. The late-season addition to the Everblades’ roster opened the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs with five goals and three assists for eight points in eight games. He sat out Game Four of the Division Finals.
THE COACH’S COACH: For Everblades head coach Brad Ralph, the Game Three victory came in his 101st ECHL playoff game as a head coach. Ralph, the league’s all-time leader with 58 head coaching wins, stands third all-time in postseason games coaches in the ECHL, trailing Steve Martinson (2nd, 104) and Matt Thomas (1st, 108).
SOLOW SIZZLES: With game-winning goals in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, Zach Solow has netted the game-winner in three of the Everblades’ 11 playoff victories in 2022. Before notching the GWG in overtime of Game One and snapping a scoreless deadlock in Game Two, Solow previously registered the game-winner in Game Three of the South Division Finals over Jacksonville on May 10. The Naples native ranks second in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with three game-winning goals, one shy of the current league leaders Charle-Edouard D’Astous of Utah and John Albert of Toledo. In 18 regular-season contests with the Blades this season, Solow picked up just one GWG, doing the deed in a 5-1 victory at South Carolina on April 8. Solow is currently tied with John McCarron for the team lead with 12 points this postseason, while sitting in second with five goals, just one behind team leader Matteo Gennaro, who had six. During the regular season, Solow scored three goals in 18 games with the Everblades and added three markers in 20 games with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.
CAPTAIN EVERBLADE EYES ANOTHER PERCH: This season, Everblades Captain John McCarron became the franchise’s all-time leader in goals scored, assists and points. Johnny Mac is now within striking distance of the top spot for overall games played, including playoffs. With 417 games played in an Everblades sweater, McCarron is just one behind Matthieu Roy for second place (418) and three behind Ernie Hartlieb, who sits in the top spot with 420.
WAY OUT WEST: The Everblades and Growlers continue to keep an eye on the Western Conference Finals between the Toledo Walleye and the Utah Grizzlies. Toledo posted a 5-4 victory in Game Three Tuesday night in Utah to take a 2-1 lead in the battle for the Bruce Taylor Trophy which goes to the Western Conference Champions. Game Four of the Western Finals is slated for Friday night in West Valley City, Utah at 9:10 pm EST.
BLADES KELLY CUP HISTORY: In the franchise’s 24th season, the Everblades have qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs every season except for one. For the Everblades, this marks the first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since 2019 and seventh conference finals appearance in franchise history. The Blades are 4-2 all-time in the Eastern Finals, picking up series wins in 2004, 2005, 2012 and 2018, while coming up short in 2007 and 2019. Florida went on to win the Kelly Cup in 2012.
JOIN THE FUN2022 Kelly Cup Playoff Tickets 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 or purchase HERE.
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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.
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JOIN THE CONVERSATIONWatch 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.