ESTERO, Fla. – The Florida Everblades are one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2019. Thanks to a second shutout in the 2022 Kelly Cup South Division Finals by netminder Cam Johnson on Tuesday, the Everblades hold a 3-0 series lead over the Jacksonville Icemen in the best-of-seven series.
The rivals will meet in Game Four at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville tonight at 7:00 pm. Follow along with tonight's action live on FloHockey or listen to the game on ESPN Southwest Florida online or on 770 AM, 98.1 FM, 104.3 FM.
If necessary, Jacksonville would also host Game Five on Friday. Should additional contests be required past Game Five, the series would shift back to Hertz Arena for Game Six on Monday, May 16 and possibly Game Seven on Tuesday, May 17, with both contests slated for a 7:30 pm puck drop.
2022 KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS – SECOND ROUND AT A GLANCEEverblades Lead Series 3-0
Game 1 Friday, May 6 Everblades 2, Icemen 0
Game 2Saturday, May 7 Everblades 5, Icemen 3
Game 3 Tuesday, May 10 Everblades 2, Icemen 0
Game 4 Wednesday, May 11 Everblades at Icemen VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena 7:00 pm
Game 5 * Friday, May 13 Everblades at Icemen VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena 7:00 pm
Game 6 * Monday, May 16Icemen at EverbladesHertz Arena7:30 pm
Game 7 *Tuesday, May 17 Icemen at EverbladesHertz Arena7:30 pm
Home Games in Bold * Games 5, 6 and 7, if Necessary
NEWS AND NOTES
GAME THREE RECAP: Cam Johnson made 29 saves in his second shutout of the series, while Zach Solow and Joe Pendenza scored goals in the opening minutes to lead the Florida Everblades to a critical 2-0 win in Game Three of the 2022 Kelly Cup South Division Finals Tuesday night in VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. For the third straight game in the series, the visiting Everblades struck first as Solow backhanded home a feed from Alex Aleardi to give Florida a 1-0 lead on their first shot just 2:52 into the contest. A mere 1:11 later, Pendenza doubled the advantage to 2-0 on the team’s second shot, closing out an end-to-end rush with Dylan Vander Esch and Lukas Kaelble earning the assists. Neither team scored over the final two periods, but matters got a bit tense for the Blades midway through the final period, as the Icemen enjoyed a five-on-three advantage for 1:13, but the good guys’ penalty kill unit staved off a Jacksonville two-man advantage that expired at the 10:40 mark. Holding onto a 2-0 lead, Florida went on a man advantage with 2:40 to play, but could not add an insurance goal, even with the Icemen pulling their goalie in the closing moments. The Everblades outshot the Icemen for the third straight game in the series 30-29.
CAM, CAM, THE SHUTOUT MAN: With his second shutout of the South Division Finals, Everblades goaltender Cam Johnson became the first netminder to record a second shutout of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Allowing just three goals en route to three straight victories to open the South Division Finals - and extend his playoff winning streak to four games, Johnson now sits atop the ECHL Playoff leaderboard with a 1.58 GAA over seven playoff outings. In this year’s Kelly Cup Playoffs, Johnson sports a 6-0-1 record in seven games, one off the league lead for playoff victories. Prior to his clean sheet in Game Three, Johnson authored his first career postseason shutout in Game One, as he spun the first playoff shutout by an Everblades goalie since Callum Booth whitewashed host Orlando on May 2, 2019 in a 2-0 win.
CLOSE GAMES OR BUST: With a 2-0 Everblades victory in Game Three, it marked the 12th time in 13 games this season between the Blades and Icemen that one of the clubs claimed victory by two goals or less. With the exception of a 5-1 Jacksonville victory in the season opener, every game between the rivals has been decided by either one or two goals. Including the three playoff wins, the Everblades are 5-0 versus the Icemen in two-goal games. Seven of the 10 regular-season meetings between the teams this season were decided by one goal, with two ending in overtime and four requiring a shootout.
GENNARO EYES ANOTHER STREAK: Matteo Gennaro saw his eight-game playoff point streak fall in Florida’s 2-0 Game Three victory, but the late-season addition to the Everblades’ lineup has been a big factor all through the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. During his eight-game point streak, Gennaro tallied nine points on five goals and four assists, which ranks second on the team in postseason points. His eight-game playoff point streak is the second longest in the ECHL this year, trailing Utah’s Charle-Edouard D’Astous who has an active 11-game string. Additionally, Gennaro has found the net three times on the power play, tied with teammate Stefan Leblanc for second in this year’s Kelly Cup Playoffs.
HANDING OFF TO JOEY: With Matteo Gennaro’s eight-game point streak coming to a close, the honors for the longest current playoff streak now belongs to Joe Pendenza, who extended his string to four games with his first-period tally in Tuesday’s Game Three victory. Over the last four games, Pendenza has recorded six points on four goals and two helpers. The Blades’ leading playoff scorer with 11 points (4 G, 7 A), Pendenza has notched at least one point in seven of the Everblades’ playoff contests. With three multi-point games this postseason, Pendenza tops all Everblades in the category. He is tied for 10th among ECHL Kelly Cup point scorers.
BRAD RALPH CLOSES IN: With seven victories under his belt this postseason, Everblades head coach Brad Ralph stands tied for second place all-time in ECHL playoff wins with 54, which matches current Allen Americans head coach Steve Martinson and longtime veteran Matt Thomas. Ralph is one win shy of the all-time postseason wins leader, John Brophy, who authored 55 playoff wins with Hampton Roads from 1989-2000. In terms of ECHL playoff games coached, Ralph sits alone in third place with 97. Martinson ranks second with 104 playoff games coached, while Thomas sets the standard at 108.
KELLY CUP UPDATE: All four division finals saw action on Tuesday night. In the Eastern Conference, while the Everblades hold a 3-0 advantage over Jacksonville, the tightest series is in the North Division, as the Reading Royals took a 2-1 series lead over the Newfoundland Growlers with a 3-1 win. Over in the Western Conference, the Toledo Walleye increased their Central Division lead over the Wheeling Nailers to 3-0 with a 5-4 win, while the Rapid City Rush staved off elimination with a 6-5 overtime victory over the Utah Grizzlies, who lead the series 3-1.
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.