JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Blake Winiecki scored two goals for the second time in the last three playoff games and led a cadre of nine different Everblades who registered points as the Florida Everblades opened the South Division Finals with a convincing 5-2 Game One victory over the Jacksonville Icemen Saturday night at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
John McCarron opened the series with his first goal of the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs, as the Blades laid claim to the first period’s only goal. At 16:51, McCarron stuffed the puck past Jacksonville goaltender Olof Lindbom for his franchise-record 174th overall goal in Florida sweater. Florida outshot Jacksonville 15-7 in the opening frame and took an early 1-0 lead.
The second period would be busy, as the teams combined for five goals. Early in the stanza, the Everblades continued to apply pressure on Lindbom, doubling the lead just under six minutes after the opening draw. Joe Pendenza skated through heavy traffic and fed Winiecki for his third goal of the playoffs to extend Florida’s lead to 2-0. Jacksonville’s Christopher Brown responded less than a minute later, shaving the Florida lead to 2-1 at the 6:51 mark.
Florida managed to restore its two-goal lead by the end of the second. Sean Josling restored the Everblades’ two-goal lead with his league-best fifth goal of the playoffs at 16:46. Derek Lodermeier answered for the Icemen at 18:04, but Pendenza closed out the frame at 18:46 to put the good guys ahead 4-2 after 40 minutes. The Blades outshot the Icemen 12-7, extending their advantage to 27-14.
Red-hot Winiecki stuck a dagger in the heart of the crowd of 7,867 with his second goal of the contest, giving the Everblades an insurmountable 5-2 lead at 7:10 of the third period. Winiecki had three points in the contest, while McCarron, Pendenza and Oliver Chau each had two.
Cam Johnson only needed to make 17 saves and improved to 5-2 in the playoffs with the victory, while Lindbom registered 25 saves and suffered his first loss in three postseason starts. Florida outshot Jacksonville 30-19 in the contest.
The road victory gives the Everblades home-ice advantage as the teams head into Game Two of the South Division Finals which is slated for Sunday at 5:00 p.m. in Jacksonville. The 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs, presented by Lexus Dealers of Southwest Florida, will shift to Hertz Arena for Game Three on Wednesday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m., the first of three potential games in the series that will be played in Estero. Single game tickets 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.
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