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HISTORY MADE; EVERBLADES WIN THIRD STRAIGHT KELLY CUP

Saturday, June 8th
HISTORY MADE; EVERBLADES WIN THIRD STRAIGHT KELLY CUP

ESTERO, Fla. – History made.

Matt Wedman’s game-winner at 3:38 of overtime finished off a furious rally from a 3-1 third-period deficit to lead the Florida Everblades to a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Mavericks in Game Five of the Kelly Cup Finals, the Florida Everblades closed out the series four games to one, and became the first team in the ECHL’s 36-year history to win three straight Kelly Cups and four overall ECHL championships.

A Hertz Arena record crowd of 7,910 rabid Southwest Florida hockey fans, the 18th sellout of the season, packed every nook and cranny of Hertz Arena and willed their team to the inevitable third-straight championship to cap the organization’s 26th season. Those fans – and the myriad of others watching and listening from elsewhere – played a major role in the Everblades winning 16 playoff games for the third straight season as the Blades delivered the fourth championship banner that will be hung from the rafters at the 2024-25 home opener on October 25.

Oliver Chau claimed June M. Kelly Playoff Most Valuable Player honors, after leading the Kelly Cup Playoffs with 23 points on nine goals and 14 assists. Chau led the finals with nine points and six goals, while also tacking on three helpers. If he scores - With seven goals in the series, Chau became the fourth player in ECHL history to score seven goals in the Kelly Cup Finals and just the second to do so in five games.

In becoming the second ECHL head coach to lead a team to three Kelly/Riley Cups – and first to capture three straight – Everblades Head Coach and General Manager Brad Ralph extended his own ECHL records with his 95th victory in 153 Kelly Cup games as a head coach.

Defending two-time Playoff Most Valuable Player Cam Johnson stopped 29 shots in the Game Five victory and improved to 47-13-3 all-time in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Johnson became the first ECHL netminder to win 12 games in the Kelly Cup Finals.

In the contest, the teams appeared headed to a scoreless first period, but Kansas City’s David Cotton struck for the Mavericks with 51 seconds left on the clock to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Kansas City claimed a 14-9 edge in shots on goal through the first 20 minutes, with Johnson turning aside 13 of 14 shots.

As has been the case all postseason, the second period has been the most productive period for the Everblades, and Game Five of the Finals saw the Blades get on the board quickly in the middle frame. 

Bobo Carpenter evened the score just 69 seconds into the period, picking up a puck at center ice and burying a blast from the right circle for his fourth goal of the series and his team-high 12th of the playoffs. The unassisted goal was the 32nd of Florida’s 70 goals this postseason to come in the second stanza. 

Kansas City, however, would score twice in the second to pull ahead 3-1 on goals by Max Andreev (8:18) and Nolan Walker (16:24), with Walker’s tally coming on the power play. The Mavericks outshot the Everblades 14-9 for the second straight period.

In the critical third period, the Everblades would claw back in a massive way, outshooting Kansas City 18-3 over the final 20 minutes. Most importantly, Mark Senden scored a pair of goals to tie the game at 3-3 and send the contest to overtime. 

Senden’s first came off a beautiful feed from Carpenter that cut the deficit to 3-2 at 8:55 left in regulation. The goal was Florida’s third shorthanded goal of the series and fifth of the playoffs. Senden’s second came from the doorstep off a blast from Cole Moberg with 1:48 on the clock to force overtime. Carpenter picked up his second helper and third point of the game on the game-tying tally.

With the record crowd chanting “We Want the Cup!” Wedman delivered, burying a feed from Will Reilly for the game-winner at 3:38 of overtime to give the record crowd exactly what they came for.

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BLADES BITS 

The Kelly Cup clinching goal was the first overtime goal to secure the Cup since…. The Florida Everblades closed out Game Five of the 2012 Kelly Cup Playoffs for the organization’s first of four ECHL crowns.

With points in the first four games of the Finals, June M. Kelly Playoff Most Valuable Player Oliver Chau had a team-high nine points on a team-best six goals and three assists in the series. Chau has registered points in five straight games, with 11 points on seven goals and four helpers in that span. Over his last eight games, Chau has 15 points on seven goals and eight assists. He leads the Kelly Cup Playoffs with 23 points (9G, 14A) in 22 contests.

Bobo Carpenter led the ECHL Playoffs with 12 goals, while matching Oliver Chau with a playoff-high 23 points. He had four goals and four assists in the Finals.

Josh Ho-Sang led the Kelly Cup Playoffs with 17 assists, three in front of Oliver Chau who ranks second with 14 helpers. Ho-Sang, who had four assists in the Finals, notched 17 of his 18 postseason points by way of the helper.

Among ECHL defensemen in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Cole Moberg leads the pack with 14 points and six goals.

Cam Johnson is 47-13-3 all-time in the Kelly Cup Playoffs and leads all ECHL netminders ever, with 12 wins in the Finals.

Brad Ralph extended his own ECHL records with his 94th victory in 152 Kelly Cup games as a head coach.

Saturday Night’s Scoresheet 

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