ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Zach Solow potted the game-winning goal 4:47 into overtime and John McCarron collected his third assist of the game to lift the Florida Everblades to a thrilling 4-3 victory in the opening game of the ECHL Kelly Cup Eastern Conference Finals Friday evening at Mary Brown’s Centre. The victory was the Everblades’ fourth overtime victory of the 2022 postseason, best among all ECHL playoff teams.
Solow’s wizardry also marked the Blades’ ninth victory of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, giving Florida head coach Brad Ralph sole possession of the all-time lead for ECHL playoff wins by a head coach with his 56th career victory, passing John Brophy, who authored 55 playoff wins with Hampton Roads from 1989-2000. Ralph is in his sixth season as the Everblades’ head coach and ninth overall as an ECHL head coach.
The host Growlers struck first, as Tyler Boland converted the game’s first power-play opportunity just 3:16 into the contest. Boland took a pass from Ben Finkelstein in the Newfoundland defensive end, skated coast to coast through the Blades defense and snapped the puck past Everblades netminder Cam Johnson to spot the Growlers a quick 1-0 lead.
Boland’s goal was his 13th of the playoffs and marked the first time since Game Six of the South Division Semifinals that Florida permitted the opposing team to score the opening goal. Newfoundland’s 1-0 lead held up for the remainder of the first period.
Both teams traded opportunities deep into the second period and despite being a man down due to a Jordan Sambrook cross-checking minor, the Everblades broke through at the 16:09 mark to knot the score at 1-1. Jake Jaremko picked up the shorthanded tally, burying a shot from between the circles, finishing off a picture-perfect odd-man rush with a pass from Dylan Vander Esch for Jaremko’s second goal of the postseason.
Just 35 seconds later, Sambrook earned redemption for his earlier penalty, picking an opportune time for his first strike of the playoffs. The defenseman carried the puck across the Growlers’ blue line and teamed up with McCarron and Dylan Vander Esch on some nifty puck handling before beating Newfoundland goalie Keith Petruzzelli with a blast from the left circle to give Florida its first lead of the game, 2-1.
In the third, the Growlers struck first, knotting the score at 2-2 just 5:19 into the period, as James Melindy struck from the right point for this first of the postseason with Gordie Green picking up the assist. That deadlock, however, would be short-lived, as Darik Angeli regained a 3-2 lead for the Everblades at the 6:35 mark. Angeli’s second goal of the playoffs came off a pass from behind the net by McCarron, with Blake Winiecki also picking up a helper.
The Everblades would hold onto the 3-2 lead for more than seven minutes, but Newfoundland’s Ryan Chyzowski converted on the Growlers’ second power play goal of the contest, evening the score at 3-3 at the 13:43 mark. The goal was Chyzowkski’s third of the playoffs on a shot from the left circle with assists on the final tally of regulation going to Green and Noel Hoefenmayer.
Along with Solow’s game-winner and McCarron’s outstanding playmaking, Johnson continued to shine in net for the Everblades, recording 33 saves to earn his sixth consecutive win of the Kelly Cup playoffs and eighth overall this postseason. For Newfoundland, Petruzzelli made 30 saves, but was denied his ninth victory of the 2022 postseason.
In addition to Ralph setting the ECHL mark for playoff wins by a head coach, the Blades’ bench boss sits alone in third place with 99 games coached, five games shy of second-place all-time (Steve Martinson, 104) and nine off the all-time mark of 108 held by Matt Thomas.
The Everblades and Growlers will square off in Game Two Sunday evening at 5:30 pm EST as the battle for the E.A. “Bud” Gingher Memorial Trophy continues in St. John’s. Following Game Two on Sunday, the series will shift back to Hertz Arena for Games Three and Four on Wednesday, May 25 and Friday, May 27, with both games beginning at 7:30 pm. Tickets for both games are on at the Hertz Arena Fifth Third Box Office and via Ticketmaster. To learn more, call or text (239) 948-7825 or purchase HERE.
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 online via Mixlr at www.mixlr.com/florida-everblades or on ESPN Southwest Florida on 770 AM, 98.1 FM, 104.3 FM.
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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.
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.