ESTERO, Fla. – After scoring three unanswered goals to rally from a 2-0 deficit and claim a 3-2 victory over the Toledo Walleye in the opening game of the 2022 Kelly Cup Finals, the Florida Everblades take to the ice for Game Two looking to extend their series lead before heading home to Hertz Arena for Game Three on Wednesday. With a 2-3-2 series format, the Everblades will also serve as the host for Game Four and, if necessary, Game Five.
In addition to sporting a 13-2-1 playoff record, the Everblades enter Game Two of the Finals having won the opening game of each of their four series this postseason. Florida has not trailed in any series during the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Blades have found themselves tied in a series just once, as the South Division Semifinals with Greenville was level at one game apiece.
Through the Blades’ first 16 playoff games, Zach Solow (6 G, 8 A) and John McCarron (3 G, 11 A) are tied for the top spot among Everblades skaters with 14 points. Among goal scorers, Alex Aleardi’s two-goal effort in Game One lifted him into the team lead with eight tallies, two ahead of Solow and Matteo Gennaro who have potted six goals apiece. In assists, McCarron’s 11 helpers lead the squad, two ahead of Blake Winiecki, who dished out his ninth apple of the playoffs to move into a deadlock with Joe Pendenza.
Fans unable to catch any of the Kelly Cup 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 Finals Tickets are now on sale at the Hertz Arena Fifth Third Box Office and via Ticketmaster. 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 FINALS AT A GLANCEEverblades Lead Series 1-0
Game 1 Friday, June 3 Everblades 3, Walleye 2
Game 2 Saturday, June 4 Everblades at Walleye Huntington Center 7:35 pm
Game 3Wednesday, June 8Walleye at EverbladesHertz Arena7:30 pm
Game 4Friday, June 10Walleye at EverbladesHertz Arena7:30 pm
Game 5*Saturday, June 11Walleye at EverbladesHertz Arena7:00 pm
Game 6 * Tuesday, June 14 Everblades at Walleye Huntington Center 7:35 pm
Game 7 * Thursday, June 16 Everblades at Walleye Huntington Center 7:35 pm
Home Games in Bold * Games 5, 6 and 7, if Necessary
NEWS AND NOTES
GAME ONE RECAP: Two third-period goals by Alex Aleardi and a 33-save performance from Cam Johnson rallied the Florida Everblades from a 2-0 deficit to claim a 3-2 victory over the host Toledo Walleye in the opening game of the 2022 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs, stunning 8,600 fans Friday night at a sold-out Huntington Center. With their 3-2 victory, the Everblades took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Toledo jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Randy Gazzola and John Albert scored goals just under four minutes apart. In the second period, the Everblades stymied back-to-back Toledo power plays in the opening seven minutes of play, only to trim the deficit to 2-1 as Naples native Zach Solow converted on the Blades’ first power-play chance of the contest. Just under seven minutes into the third period, Aleardi pounced on a rebound and gave the Everblades the equalizer 6:45 into the final period. Aleardi was not done. With 1:41 left on the clock, a streaking Aleardi took a long pass from Levko Koper, who was stationed in the defensive end, slipped past the Toledo defense on a breakaway and banged home his second goal of the night and his team-best eighth of the playoffs to seal the deal for the Everblades, 3-2. The assist was Koper’s second of the game. With the Everblades outshooting Toledo 40-35, Johnson did not disappoint in the opening game of the Finals, making 33 saves and improving to 12-1-1 in the postseason. The 33 saves matched his highest total in this year’s Kelly Cup Playoffs, equaling the 33-save effort he turned in during the Blades’ 4-3 win over host Newfoundland in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 20.
BLADES ROAD TO THE FINALS: In picking up three series wins in the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Everblades entered the Finals with a 12-2-1 postseason record, besting the Greenville Swamp Rabbits 4-2 in the South Division Semifinals, sweeping the Jacksonville Icemen 4-0 in the South Division Finals, and topping the Newfoundland Growlers 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Among the Blades’ 12 playoff victories was an eight-game winning streak which ran from the Game Six clincher in the division semifinals through Game Three of the conference finals.
ABOUT THE WALLEYE: The ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, the current Brabham Cup holders posted a 49-19-2-2 regular-season record and are currently 12-3-2 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Walleye are looking to win the Kelly Cup for the first time, as Toledo fell to Newfoundland in six games in their lone Finals appearance in 2019. During the regular season, the Walleye ranked second in the ECHL with 3.85 goals per game, potting a league-best 277 goals, while trailing only Newfoundland in goals per game (3.91). Toledo ranked fifth in goals allowed per game (2.82).
THE SERIES WITH TOLEDO: The Everblades and Walleye are meeting in the postseason for the first time, but the Blades are 16-9-3 all-time in 28 regular-season matchups against their rivals from Northwest Ohio. Florida won the last regular-season meeting between the clubs, rallying from a 3-1 third-period deficit to claim a 5-3 overtime victory in Toledo’s Huntington Center on November 2, 2019. Blake Winiecki scored the game-winner while John McCarron added a first-period assist.
SPECIAL TEAMS SPOTLIGHT: Both teams picked up quick goals on their first power-play opportunities of the Finals in Game One, with Toledo scoring 22 seconds into their first advantage and the Everblades returning the favor 18 seconds into their first man-up opportunity. Florida went 1-for-2 over the course of the match, while the Walleye were 1-for-4. Entering the 2022 Kelly Cup Finals, during the postseason, the Everblades ranked ninth on the power play at 19.7% (13-for-66) and seventh on the penalty kill at 82.3% (51-for-62), while the Walleye came in first on the power play at 33.3% (17-for-51) and second on the penalty kill at 88.3% (53-for-60). Looking back at the regular season, Florida ranked 12th on the power play at 19.0% (50-for-263) and third on the penalty kill at 84.2% (255-for-301). Toledo was third on the power play at 24.2% (57-for-236) and 15th on the kill at 80.4% (180-for-224). While shorthanded, Florida holds a 2-1 advantage in goals scored, while the Everblades held a 14-6 edge during the regular season.
IN CAM WE TRUST: Everblades’ netminder Cam Johnson remains on a stellar playoff run, making 33 saves in Game One and matching the single-game high he posted in the opening game of the Eastern Conference Finals in a 4-3 win at Newfoundland. With four shutouts in the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, Johnson is tied for second place for the most shutouts by an ECHL goaltender in one playoff season, just 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 14 playoff appearances this season, Johnson sports a 12-1-1 record, matching Toledo’s Billy Christopoulos (12-3-2) for the league lead in playoff wins. Johnson’s 1.90 GAA trails only Jacksonville’s Charles Williams, who logged a 1.32 GAA over four appearances through the first two rounds of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Johnson, who is tied for third in postseason save percentage at .927, is just .001 out of second place.
OUR COACH ROCKS: Everblades head coach Brad Ralph has appeared in 104 ECHL playoff games as a head coach, just four games short of the league record. Ralph, the league’s all-time leader with 60 head coaching wins, is tied for second all-time in postseason games coached in the ECHL, trailing just Matt Thomas (1st, 108).
ANOTHER MARK FOR CAPTAIN EVERBLADE: Throughout the 2021-22 season, Florida Everblades Captain John McCarron became the franchise’s all-time leader in goals scored, assists and points. Johnny Mac is now one appearance shy of claiming the top spot for overall games played, including playoffs, all for himself. With 420 games played in an Everblades sweater, McCarron shares the record with Ernie Hartlieb, who sits in the top spot with 420.
BLADES KELLY CUP FINALS HISTORY: The Everblades are making the franchise’s fifth appearance in the Kelly Cup Finals and are looking to hoist the hardware for the second time in club history. The Blades won it all in 2012, defeating the Las Vegas Wranglers four games to one. Other Kelly Cup Finals appearances include a 4-1 loss to the Idaho Steelheads in 2004, a 4-2 setback to the Trenton Titans in 2005, and a 4-3 series defeat at the hands of the Colorado Eagles in 2018.
JOIN THE FUN
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.
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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.