ESTERO, Fla. – This was a game for the ages. And John McCarron sent the Southwest Florida faithful home happy.
McCarron took a pass from captain Ben Masella and blasted home the game-winning goal 6:08 into double overtime as the Florida Everblades posted a 5-4 victory over the Newfoundland Growlers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals Saturday night at Hertz Arena. With the thrilling victory, the Everblades took a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven series.
With the Everblades trailing 3-1 entering the final period of regulation, Oliver Chau scored a pair of third-period goals and Sean Josling’s equalizer with 3:38 on the clock sent the game into overtime.
Unlike Game One, Newfoundland opened the scoring, as the Growlers took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Isaac Johnson just 2:09 after the opening draw, connecting on the visitors’ first shot on goal of the evening. Tyler Irvine netted the equalizer for the Everblades with 24 seconds remaining in the period for his team-high ninth goal of the playoffs and fifth score in the last three games.
In the early stages of the second period, Naples native Zach Solow scored back-to-back goals at 4:35 and 6:22 to give Newfoundland its first lead of the series, as the Growlers pulled ahead 3-1. The two-goal middle stanza was the visitors’ second in as many nights.
Chau brought the Everblades within one at 4:45 of the third, knocking in a perfect feed from Levko Koper for his fifth marker of the playoffs to cut Newfoundland’s lead to 3-2. Due to a delayed penalty on the Growlers, the Blades had six skaters on the ice and the good guys capitalized.
Following a goal by Todd Skirving at 7:10 that allowed the Growlers to regain a two-goal lead at 4-2, Chau responded with his second goal of the period just 28 seconds later to pull the Everblades back within one at 4-3. It was Chau’s second two-goal game of this year’s Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Josling’s game-tying goal, a blast from the right circle with 3:38 to play, was his eighth postseason tally and pulled the Everblades even at 4-4, giving the Hertz Arena faithful of 5,321 bonus hockey.
The first overtime saw the Everblades double up the Growlers with a 12-6 edge in shots on goal, but both goaltenders, Florida’s Cam Johnson and Newfoundland’s Dryden McKay, were up to the task, turning aside every attempt, including point-blank opportunities on both ends.
Leblanc and McCarron both registered two assists for the Everblades, leading a cadre of seven Blades with helpers and 11 with at least one point in the game.
On the night, Florida outshot Newfoundland 44-28, including a 31-10 edge from the third period on, including a 16-6 advantage in both overtime periods an a 4-0 margin in the second overtime.
Johnson improved to 10-3-1 with a 24-save performance. McKay made 39 saves and slipped to 8-.
Following a day off on Sunday, the final game of the series to be played at Hertz Arena will be on Monday. The puck drops on Game Three at 7:30 p.m. Action shifts to Newfoundland for Game Four on Thursday, May 25. The Growlers will host any games necessary following Game Four.
Single game tickets for all home games in the Eastern Conference Finals 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. Monday’s Game Three will also feature a great Monday 239 Deal. Don’t miss out and be sure to secure two tickets, one program and a large bucket of popcorn for the great low price of $39! For more information, call or text the Blades at (239) 948-7825.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and the AHL's Charlotte Checkers.