ECHL Game Recap: Florida Everblades vs. Savannah Ghost Pirates | 01/12/2024

Photo by: James Slemp for Inside the Rink

ESTERO, Fla. – 5,701 fans ventured out into heavy rains Friday night to cheer on the Florida Everblades as they renewed their series against the Savannah Ghost Pirates. Having lost game one Wednesday night 4-1, the Everblades looked to get back into the win column. Hertz Arena and the Everblades hosted Carnival Night with several acts, including a mentalist and a contortionist, performing before the game and during period intermissions. The Everblades play, however, was not an illusion as they scored first and outlasted the Ghost Pirates, winning the game 5-3.

The Everblades had a lackluster performance on Wednesday, missing most of Coach Ralph’s keys to the game. Their inability to manage the puck resulted in several turnovers, which fed the Ghost Pirates’ transition play. The Everblades’ defense could not contain the offensive pressure, and goalie Cam Johnson had four pucks hit the back of the net. Friday night was markedly different, as the Everblades made fewer mistakes with the puck in their offensive zone. The Everblades’ forecheckers slowed the Ghost Pirates’ transition game, allowing the defense to break up several zone entry attempts. 

Evan Cormier got the start for the Everblades; he won the first meeting between these two teams in December. Michael Bullion started for the Ghost Pirates with a five-game winning streak in the ECHL. The Everblades had a different look with three players inserted into the lineup: Riese Zmolek replaced Jordan Sambrook on defense, and forwards Oliver Chau and Weiland Parrish replaced Chris Ordoobadi and Kyle Neuber. Chau returned to his spot on the top line, and Parrish made his Everblades debut. 

The chippy, physical play from Wednesday night continued with the puck drop. The Ghost Pirates weathered an Everblades attack at the five-minute mark of the first period, stopping all four high-quality shots. Everblades forward Oliver Chau (8) broke the deadlock with a beautiful tip-in goal from a pass by Logan Lambdin. The Ghost Pirates answered 42 seconds later when Keltie Jeri-Leon (9) ripped a wrist shot over Cormier’s shoulder, tying the game at 1-1. Everblades’ defenseman Will Reilly was called for a trip at 13:57, but the Ghost Pirates could only muster two shots, and the period ended in a 1-1 tie. Each team managed 11 shots on goal.

Everblades forward Bobo Carpenter (14) added to his team lead in goals when he scored off a turnover at 1:39 of the second period. The Everblades held the lead for almost five minutes before Brandon Estes (4) tied the game. Everblades All-Star Nathan Staios (6) put the Everblades back in front with a highlight-reel tip-in goal 43 seconds later. Ghost Pirates defenseman Joe Fleming and Everblades defenseman Zach Uens both received roughing penalties. Fleming received a double minor for his infraction, giving the Everblades their first powerplay of the night. The Everblades could not add to their lead with the man advantage, and the period ended 3-2 Everblades. The Everblades outshot the Ghost Pirates 10-8 for the period.

Newcomer Weiland Parrish (1) scored his first goal with the Everblades on a rebound shot from the low slot at 2:46 of the third period. Play went back and forth until the Everblades returned to the penalty box when forward Brett Davis tripped a Ghost Pirates player. Everblades forward Cam Hausinger was sent to the box at 12:59 for roughing. Ghost Pirates forward Brent Pedersen (9) scored a powerplay goal off a rebound, bringing the Ghost Pirates to within one. Michael Bullion was pulled with just over two minutes left in the game, but Bobo Carpenter (15) scored his second goal of the game on a shot from the red line that hit the middle of the empty net. The Everblades won 5-3, outshooting the Ghost Pirates 17-8 in the third period and 38-27 for the game.

Evan Cormier made 24 saves on 27 shots for a .889 save percentage, and Michael Bullion made 33 saves on 37 for a .892 save percentage. All three Stars of the Game came from the Everblades, with Will Reilly taking third with his one assist, Oliver Chau second with one goal, and Nathan Staios taking top honors with one goal. The first two games in this five-game series have been a tale of two teams. The Everblade’s play on Wednesday was uncharacteristic of how they started 2024, but the play on Friday night showed just how competitive the Everblades can be. Game three of five is Saturday at 7 p.m. at Hertz Arena, and the last game is at home for the Everblades before the All-Star break, with the series continuing in Savannah. Saturday’s performance sets the tone for the break. A loss could derail their momentum from this victory, and a win could jump them into fourth place in the South Division.

James Slemp

I write for and photograph the Florida Everblades for ITR. I am a retiree that has turned my hobby of photography into a business. I currently live in Sarasota, Florida with my wife, Christy, but I'm originally from California. My previous career has taken me all over the US and the world and I definitely enjoy traveling. I've played hockey for over 30 years, learning as an adult, and love the game.

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