SAVANNAH, Ga. – The Florida Everblades got a critical game-tying goal from Nathan Staios early in the third period, but the Savannah Ghost Pirates netted the game-winner with just over five minutes left in the game to hand the Blades a 2-1 setback Friday night at Enmarket Arena.
With the South Division rivals meeting for the sixth time in 24 days, offense was hard to come by in a scoreless, penalty-free opening period. The Everblades had most of the early good looks, jumping out to a quick 7-1 shot advantage, but Savannah tested Florida netminder Cam Johnson in the latter stages of the frame. Johnson stopped everything that the Ghost Pirates fired his way, as the hosts claimed a 12-10 edge in shots over the first 20 minutes.
The scoring drought continued for nearly 14 minutes into the second period, before Savannah’s Keltie Jeri-Leon gave the home team a 1-0 lead that would hold into the second intermission. Florida claimed a 12-11 advantage in shots on goal during the middle stanza. Each side was unsuccessful on its first power-play opportunity of the contest.
In the third, the versatile Staios blasted home the equalizer through traffic from the left circle to pull the Everblades even at 1-1. Staios’ seventh goal of the campaign came at 3:38 off an assist by Will Reilly.
Midway through the final frame, Oliver Chau slipped past the Savannah defense and was hooked from behind at the 9:17 mark, setting up the Blades’ first penalty shot in nearly two years. Chau, unfortunately, came up short as he was denied by Ghost Pirates netminder Jesper Vikman, with the score remaining knotted 1-1.
Savannah’s Nolan Valleau regained the home team’s lead for good, as the Ghost Prates pulled ahead 2-1 at 14:15 of the third.
Savannah outshot Florida 32-30 on the night. In goal, Johnson (12-9-3-1) registered 30 saves and was hard-luck loser for the Everblades. Vikman (2-1-0-0) made 29 stops and picked up the win for Savannah.
The Everblades and Ghost Pirates will give it another go Saturday, February 3 at 7:00 p.m. The Blades will return to Hertz Arena for a four-game homestand which will get underway on Wednesday, February 7 with the first of three games against the Adirondack Thunder at 7:30 p.m. Fans can enjoy another popular Hump Day Deal with $3.00 beers, $3.00 hot dogs and live music by DJ Matty Chiuch throughout the evening
Visit floridaeverblades.com for more information and to purchase tickets.
Nathan Staios’ third-period equalizer was his first goal since finding the net in the Everblades’ 5-3 triumph over Savannah on January 12. During the six games in between goals, Staios saw quite a bit of time on Florida’s defensive corps and tallied three assists during that run.
Will Reilly leads all Florida defensemen with 14 points thanks to his assist on Staios’ goal. Reilly snapped a three-game streak without a point, following a stretch from January 12-24 in which he notched nine points (2 G, 7 A) over five contests.
The Blades fell to 5-2-0-0 this season versus Savannah, including a 2-1 record in Enmarket Arena. In addition to Saturday’s matchup, the rivals will meet three more times this season, with games slated for Hertz Arena on March 20, 22 and 23.
With Savannah holding a 1-0 lead after two period, the trends held up, as Florida fell to 3-13-2-0 when trailing after two periods, while Savannah improved to 13-2-1-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
JOIN THE FUN
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 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, or online at espnswfl.com or everblades.mixlr.com. Stay up to date by following the Blades on social media with all the latest news, scores, and promotions on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.