ORLANDO, Fla. – Newcomer Mark Senden snapped a 3-3 deadlock in the seventh round of a shootout to lift the Florida Everblades to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Orlando Solar Bears in the 2023-24 regular-season opener Thursday night at Amway Center.
In regulation, Senden and Kamerin Nault joined veteran Bobo Carpenter in the goal-scoring column as the Blades rallied from a 3-1 second-period deficit to send the season opener into extra time and the eventual shootout that sealed the victory for Florida.
Senden lifted the lid on both the 2023-24 campaign and the Everblades’ quest for a third-straight Kelly Cup championship. The welcome addition to the Blades lineup tallied the good guys’ first goal of the season at 4:51 of the opening frame, with Nathan Staios registering the season’s first assist. Orlando would score twice to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes off an even-strength goal by Jaydon Dureau (7:52) and a
power-play marker by Steve Jandric (19:52).
The host Solar Bears would net a third-straight goal to extend their lead to 3-1 off a goal by Luke Boka at 13:46 of the middle frame before Carpenter (14:41) stopped the bleeding less than a minute later to trim Orlando’s lead to 3-2, with Dennis Cesana picking up the helper in his Everblades debut.
Nault’s third-period equalizer was the only goal in the final period of regulation, as the ECHL veteran’s first goal as an Everblade was a big one, as it knotted the contest at 3-3 at 12:24 of the third period off assists by Andrew Fyten and Logan Lambdin.
Both teams scored three goals on 33 shots in regulation, while Orlando outshot the Blades 6-3 in a scoreless seven-minute overtime session.
Sean Josling found the net for the Everblades in the opening round of the shootout, but the Solar Bears converted in the third round to send the shootout to a sudden-death phase. Neither team converted in rounds four through six, before Senden potted the game winner in the seventh frame.
In regulation, Cam Johnson registered 36 saves in goal for the Everblades, while Orlando’s Colten Ellis turned aside 33 shots for the hosts.
Florida will continue its season-opening three-game road trip on Saturday, October 21 with a 7:00 p.m. matchup against the host Jacksonville Icemen. The Everblades and Solar Bears will square off once again on Amway Center ice on Thursday, October 26 in the final game of the trip across the Sunshine State at 7:00 p.m.
The Blades will make their Hertz Arena debut on Saturday, October 28 as Jacksonville skates into town for a 7:00 p.m. contest that will get underway after the Everblades hoist the 2022-23 Kelly Cup championship banner in special pregame ceremonies.
Mark Senden’s first-period goal was his first in the ECHL. Senden entered the season with one professional goal to his credit, picking up one goal in three games with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers last season. Senden has already appeared in one game with the Checkers this season, but was not a factor in Charlotte’s 4-1 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last Saturday.
Bobo Carpenter’s second-period tally was his first goal since scoring in the Blades’ on November 25, 2022, a 5-2 victory over Jacksonville in his final appearance of the 2022-23 campaign. Last season, Carpenter logged four goals and two assists in five games for the Everblades.
Kamerin Nault’s equalizer in the third period was his 39 th ECHL career goal. Nault previously played in the circuit with Greenville, Kansas City, Atlanta and Reading, seeing action in 108 games over six seasons with those four clubs.
The shootout victory was a sweet one, as Florida fell in last season’s opener, suffering a 4-2 setback at Atlanta on October 21. The Everblades responded in short order, winning four straight contests to jump out to a 4-1-0- 0 start en route to a second-straight Kelly Cup. The Blades also dropped the season opener in 2021-22, falling 5-1 to visiting Jacksonville to open that year’s Kelly Cup championship season.
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