ESTERO, Fla. – The Florida Everblades returned home from their short two-game series against the Savannah Ghost Pirates this past weekend, where they won both games, extending their winning streak to four. The Everblades looked to move their record against the visiting Atlanta Gladiators to 5-0-0 on the season, and with a win, the Everblades would move into a tie for second place with the Orlando Solar Bears and Jacksonville Icemen. The Solar Bears lost their home game Tuesday night to the Gladiators, who won in a shootout. The Everblades’ offense was relentless as they built an early lead and defeated the Gladiators 4-1.
Everblades forward Sean Josling, 2-4-6, and defenseman Will Reilly, 2-6-9, entered the game with four-game scoring streaks. Gladiators forward Cody Sylvester, 4-6-10, was on an eight-game scoring streak. Forward Bobo Carpenter leads all Everblades skaters with six points against the Gladiators, three goals, and three assists. The Everblades had several critical changes to their lineup for Wednesday night’s game. Forward Kyle Neuber served the first game of his four-game suspension for his actions with two seconds left in the third period on Sunday against the Ghost Pirates. Forward Andrew Fyten was also out with an injury. To fill the holes in the offense, the Everblades signed forwards Tyler Kobryn from the Fayetteville Marksmen of the SPHL and Evan Boucher from the University of Ottawa. Tyler Kobryn had 21 points in 23 games for the Marksmen this season; he played 39 games for the Gladiators last year. Evan Boucher made his Everblades and ECHL debut Wednesday night, having played 15 games with the University of Ottawa this season, recording 12 points and 33 penalty minutes. Forward Cam Morrison returned to the Everblades from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. He recorded three goals in five games this season for the Everblades but has played 22 games for the Checkers, scoring one goal and three assists. Everblades netminder Evan Cormier, 7-4-2 with a .916 save percentage, got the start against Gladiators Brad Barone, 3-3-2 with a .913 save percentage. Brad Barone played the night before when he replaced starter Gustavs Grigals at 6:49 in the third after Grigals gave up six goals. Barone took the win in the shootout for the Gladiators.
The Everblades have recently played some of their best hockey of the season, pushing their winning streak to a season-high four games. Their character of play has been aggressive forechecking, defense of the blue line, solid goaltending, and timely scoring. Jake Maurice noted in his pre-game discussion that the three keys to success were:
- Get off to a fast start and jump on the Gladiators, who played a challenging game last night.
- Play a calm game and stay out of the penalty box.
- Maintain the powerplay success, having scored six goals in the past three games with the man advantage.
Assistant coach Anthony Peters filled in for head coach Brad Ralph on the Coach’s Corner. He praised the team for how they’ve played over the last five games, winning four of five against the Ghost Pirates. He noted that they needed to get out to a good start, play an entire 60-minute game, wear down the Gladiator defense, go hard at the net, and make it tough on the Gladiators to generate offense. The Everblades, on paper, should win the game Wednesday night.
Both teams settled into conservative play to start the game, looking for ways to generate offensive pressure. Cam Morrison (4) resumed his scoring prowess for the Everblades with a backhand goal off a rebound at 9:35 of the first. Sean Josling extended his scoring streak to five games with an assist on the goal for 16 on the season. The Everblades had a record of 14-2-2 when scoring first. Tyler Kobryn (1) extended the Everblades lead with his first goal for the team at 17:47. Will Reilly moved his scoring streak to five games with his assist, and Evan Boucher recorded his first point as a professional. The first period ended with the Everblades leading 2-0 and outshooting the Gladiators 16-15.
The second period started with a bang when, at 3:33, Gladiators forward Spencer Kennedy dropped his gloves with Everblades forward Chris Ordoobadi. Chris Ordoobadi settled the fight quickly when he slammed Kennedy onto the ice; both received five-minute fighting majors. Sean Josling (12) added to the Everblades lead at 7:54 when he redirected a shot past Barone; Cam Morrison assisted on the goal. Cody Sylvester scored his 12th goal of the season for the Gladiators 16 seconds later, ending Cormier’s chances for a shutout. The Gladiators received two more penalties in the second period, but the Everblades couldn’t get the puck past Barone with the man advantage. The Everblades maintained their two-goal lead, 3-1, going into the locker room. The Everblades added 11 shots to their total, while the Gladiators scored on the only shot they had in the second period.
The Everblades shut down the Gladiators’ offense in the third period, keeping them to two shots through the first ten minutes. Everblades Zach Uens took a two-minute cross-checking penalty at 12:45, but the Everblades held the Gladiators to three shots during the man advantage. Brad Barone was pulled at 16:58 for an extra attacker, but Cam Morrison (5) scored an empty net goal at 17:32, sealing the win for the Everblades, 4-1. The Everblades outshot the Gladiators 38-25. Evan Cormier got his eighth win by stopping 24 of 25 shots on goal for a .960 save percentage. Brad Barone moved his record to 3-4-2, making 34 saves on 37 shots for a .919 save percentage. The Three Stars of the Game came from the Everblades, with Cam Morrison taking top honors with his two goals and one assist. Tyler Kobryn and Sean Josling received honors as well.
The win for the Everblades, their fifth in a row, moved them into a three-way tie with the idle Orlando Solar Bears and Jacksonville Icemen. Tomorrow’s game between the Solar Bears and the Ghost Pirates in Savanah will break the deadlock. The Icemen play the same Ghost Pirates Friday night in Savannah while the Everblades host the division-leading Greenville Swamp Rabbits. All three teams have games Saturday night, which should clear up the playoff picture in the South Division. Puck drop for the Everblades is 7 p.m. Friday at Hertz Arena.