NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Florida Everblades scored three first-period goals and never looked back, cruising to a dominant 5-0 victory over the host South Carolina Stingrays to open the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs, presented by Lexus Dealers of Southwest Florida, Saturday night at North Charleston Coliseum. With the victory, Florida took a one-game-to-none lead in the best-of-seven South Division semifinal series.
The defending 2022 Kelly Cup Champions received major contributions from players up and down the lineup, led by Sean Josling, who scored the first two goals of the game, and Tyler Irvine who also added a pair of goals and an assist. In the playmaking department, Joe Pendenza registered three assists, while Stefan Leblanc picked up a pair.
Last year’s playoff hero for the Everblades, goaltender Cam Johnson, was sensational in his 2023 playoff debut. Johnson registered 35 saves and picked up the victory after earning 26 regular-season wins, tied for third in the ECHL, just two off the league lead. The shutout was the fifth career playoff shutout for Johnson, who posted four clean sheets en route to earning the ECHL's June M. Kelly Playoffs Most Valuable Player Award a year ago.
En route to a 3-0 lead after the first 20 minutes, Josling struck first, lighting the lamp at the 8:44 mark, just 29 seconds into the Blades’ first power-play opportunity of the postseason. His second goal came three minutes later at 11:45, while Irvine closed out the first-period scoring at the 16:53 mark.
Florida had more first period goals than the Stingrays had shots, piling up a 10-2 edge in the opening frame.
In the middle period, Irvine potted his second goal of the contest midway through the frame, while Ashton Calder tacked on a power-play goal at 12:33 to send Florida into the second intermission with a 5-0 lead that would remain intact the rest of the way.
Despite getting outshot by South Carolina 35-28 over 60 minutes, Florida’s special teams played a significant role in the victory. The Everblades were 2-for-5 on the power play, while the Stingrays came up empty on all four of their power-play opportunities.
The best-of-seven series resumes with Game Two at South Carolina Monday at 7:05 p.m., before shifting back to Hertz Arena for Games Three and Four on Wednesday, April 26 and Friday, April 28, respectively, at 7:30 p.m. and also Game Five, if necessary, on Saturday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m.
Single game tickets for the first two home games of the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs, presented by Lexus Dealers of Southwest Florida, are on sale at the Fifth Third Bank Box Office at Hertz Arena, online HERE or by calling the Everblades office at 239-948-PUCK.
Your favorite promotions at Hertz Arena are back for the opening round of the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs, presented by Lexus Dealers of Southwest Florida! Our awesome deals include the ever-popular Hump Day Deals for Game Three with $3.00 Bud Light Drafts and $3.00 hot dogs, and our 239 Friday Deals for Game Four which include two tickets, two programs and a large bucket of popcorn.
JOIN THE FUN
2023 Kelly Cup Playoff Tickets are now on sale. Join the Blades in their pursuit to defend the title! To learn more, call or text (239) 948-7825.
The 2023-24 season ticket plans are on sale now! Become a Blades 365 Member for the 2023-24 season and enjoy incredible savings and benefits! To view the Blades 365 Membership savings, benefits and options click HERE.
Group Packages are available for a group of 10 or more! 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.
Grab the newest and hottest Everblades merchandise by checking out the entire collection that is available online by visiting shop.floridaeverblades.com or at the Hertz Arena Pro Shop!
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 everblades.mixlr.com.
The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and the AHL's Charlotte Checkers.