ESTERO, Fla. – The Florida Everblades are heading back to the Kelly Cup Finals. Saturday night at Hertz Arena, the Blades defeated the Newfoundland Growlers 6-5 in overtime to claim the E.A. “Bud” Gingher Trophy as 2022 ECHL Eastern Conference Champions and secure a spot in the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time since 2018. With the 4-1 series victory, the Everblades ended the Growlers’ season and handed Newfoundland the first-ever postseason series loss in franchise history.
Looking ahead to the fifth Kelly Cup Playoffs appearance in club history, the Blades will face the Western Conference Champion Toledo Walleye, a four-game-to-one winner over the Utah Grizzlies to claim the Bruce Taylor Trophy as champions of the west. Toledo also claimed the Brabham Cup which is awarded to the ECHL’s regular-season points champion. Toledo posted a 49-19-2-2 regular-season record for 102 points and a .708 points percentage, while the Everblades turned in a 42-20-6-4 mark for 94 points and a.653 points percentage, which ranked third and fourth, respectively in the regular season.
All-time, the Everblades improved to 5-2 all-time in the Eastern Conference Finals, picking up series wins in 2004, 2005, 2012, 2018 – and now 2022 – while coming up short in 2007 and 2019. Florida went on to win the Kelly Cup in 2012.
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 GLANCE
Game 1 Friday, June 3 Everblades at Walleye Huntington Center 7:35 pm
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
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS RECAP: The Florida Everblades exploded for a postseason-high six goals and Xavier Bouchard scored one minute into overtime to post a 6-5 Game Five victory over the Newfoundland Growlers and wrap up the 2022 Kelly Cup Eastern Conference Finals by a four-games-to-one margin last Saturday night at Hertz Arena. With the victory, the Everblades wrapped up the organization’s seventh trip to the Kelly Cup Finals. Florida opened the series with back-to-back 4-3 and 2-0 victories in the first two games of the series played in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with the opening game requiring overtime to render a decision. The Everblades pulled ahead 3-0 in the series, claiming a 4-3 victory in Game Three back in Hertz Arena. Newfoundland stayed alive with a 4-1 triumph in Game Four, before the Blades closed out the series with a 6-5 win in Game Five.
EASTERN FINALS LEADERS: In the series, the Everblades outscored the Growlers 17-15 while posting three one-goal victories, two of which came in overtime. Stefan Leblanc (2 G, 5 A) and John McCarron (0 G, 7 A) led the squad with seven points apiece, with McCarron leading the series with seven assists. Alex Aleardi (3 G, 0 A) led a pack of 10 different Florida players with three goals, while five different Blades tallied two goals. Four different players added one goal in the five-game set. Cam Johnson improved to 10-1-1 in the playoffs, going 4-1 with a 2.77 GAA and a .902 save percentage in the Eastern Conference Finals. Over 13 appearances in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Johnson has registered a 1.89 GAA and a .926 save percentage. He has four shutouts under his belt, one shy of matching the 23-year old ECHL record of shutouts by a goaltender in one playoff season (Maxime Gingras, Richmond, 1999).
BLADES ROAD TO THE FINALS: In picking up three series wins in the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Everblades have compiled 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 12-2-2 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: During the postseason, the Everblades rank 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 come 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.
CAM’S THE MAN: Everblades’ netminder Cam Johnson remains on a stellar playoff run, as the only ECHL goalie to record multiple shutouts in the current postseason. 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 13 playoff appearances this season, Johnson sports an 11-1-1 record, one victory shy of Toledo’s Billy Christopoulos (12-2-2) for the league lead in playoff wins. Johnson’s 1.89 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 fourth in postseason save percentage at .926, is just .002 out of second place.
LUCKY 13 FOR LEBLANC: During the regular season, Everblades defenseman Stefan Leblanc registered 13 points in 33 games, scoring one goal and adding 12 assists. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Leblanc has matched that offensive output from the blue line, registering 13 points in 15 games, with five goals scored and eight assists. Among ECHL defenseman in the postseason, Leblanc ranks fourth in points, third in goals and fifth in assists.
THE DEFENSE HAS BEEN DANDY: Through their first 15 Kelly Cup Playoff games, the Everblades (12-2-1) continue to sport one of the ECHL’s stingiest postseason defenses, as they have surrendered just 2.33 goals per game, outscoring their opponents 48-35 and outshooting them 508-402. In the shots on goal department, Florida has averaged the second fewest shots per game, 26.80, while ranking fourth in shots taken, 33.87.
WRECK(ORD) IT RALPH: Entering the Kelly Cup Finals, Everblades head coach Brad Ralph has appeared in 103 ECHL playoff games as a head coach, one shy of second place all-time and five short of the league record. Ralph, the league’s all-time leader with 59 head coaching wins, stands third all-time in postseason games coaches in the ECHL, trailing just Steve Martinson (2nd, 104) and Matt Thomas (1st, 108).
CAPTAIN EVERBLADE IS ONE AWAY FROM ANOTHER PEAK: 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 419 games played in an Everblades sweater, McCarron has surpassed Matthieu Roy (418) for second place and sits just one game behind 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.
BACK TO THE FINALS: With the Everblades making the club’s first Kelly Cup Finals appearance since 2018, it marks a return to the Finals in a Blades sweater for two members of the current squad – John McCarron and Kyle Neuber. In the Blades’ seven-game series with Colorado, McCarron registered four points in seven games on two goals and two assists – including a third-period goal to give the Everblades a 2-1 lead before eventually falling 3-2 – while Neuber made one appearance in Game Two, but did not factor in the scoring. Additionally, McCarron also appeared in six games for the Wheeling Nailers in the 2016 Finals, collecting five points on three goals and two assists in a 4-2 series loss to the Allen Americans. Neuber was a member of that Allen squad.
FLASHBACK TO 2012: The road to the 2012 Kelly Cup saw the Blades post a 15-3 postseason record, sweeping Greenville 3-0 in the opening round and then winning each of the next three series by 4-1 counts over Elmira, Kalamazoo and Las Vegas. In the Finals, the Everblades won four straight games after dropping a 2-1 away contest to the Las Vegas Wranglers in Game One. Florida rebounded with a convincing 7-2 victory in Game Two at Orleans Arena, setting the stage for three straight wins back in The Swamp, taking Game Three 4-3 in overtime, capturing Game Four 3-1, and raising the Kelly Cup after a 3-2 overtime victory in Game Five. The Cup-winning goal came off the stick of Brandon MacLean at 4:54 of the extra period, while goaltender John Muse registered 41 saves to earn the number one star of the game.
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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JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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.