ECHL Game Recap: Florida Everblades vs. Worcester Railers | 02/23/2024

Photo by: Christina Slemp for Inside the Rink

ESTERO, Fla.- The Force was strong with the Everblades Friday night as they defeated the Worcester Railers 3-1. Wearing Star Wars-themed specialty jerseys, the Everblades took game two in the series before a sell-out crowd of 7,231. The win and an Orlando Solar Bears loss moved the Everblades five points ahead of the Solar Bears for fourth place in the South Division. 

Photo by: Christina Slemp for Inside the Rink

Coach Ralph made two changes to his lineup for Saturday’s game. He moved forward. Luke Santerno was placed on reserve, and defenseman Riese Zmolek was scratched for the game. Forward Evan Boucher and defenseman Stanislav Demin were added to the lineup. Luke Santerno has had four goals and four assists in nine games for the Everblades since joining the team on February 1 from a trade with the Kansas City Mavericks. Evan Boucher made his professional debut with the Everblades on January 24 against the Atlanta Gladiators. He recorded his first professional point that night with an assist. He has been out of the lineup since February 2. Stanislav Demin is also in his first year as a professional, having started the year with the Allen Americans before being traded to the Everblades on December 19, 2023. Goaltender David Tendeck made his first start at home for the Everblades; he was traded to the Everblades from the Idaho Steelheads on February 6 to help support Cam Johnson after Evan Cormier was called up to the Charlotte Checkers. Tendeck has played only one game for the Everblades since joining the team: a 4-1 win against the South Carolina Stingrays. John Muse would get his second consecutive start for the Railers; he lost the game Wednesday night to the Everblades 3-1. Coach Ralph called the win against the Railers Wednesday night an “entertaining hockey game.” He added, “That game was fast with a lot of big hits and fights. I expect the same type of game on Saturday night. We sustained some injuries in Wednesday night’s game, so we’ll need some guys to step up. We’ll need our best players to be our best players. We need to keep improving regarding the details of the game.” Jake Maurice’s three keys to the game were:

· Continue to be aggressive for the 60 minutes.

· Stay out of the penalty box.

· Feed off the fans.

The first period started much like the game on Wednesday, with both teams feeling each other out. Stanislav Demin took a two-minute interference penalty at 2:23, but the Everblades killed off the powerplay. The Railers, however, would score at 5:37 on Trevor Cosgrove’s sixth of the season, giving the Railers their first lead of the series. Evan Boucher scored his first professional goal at 14:59 on a one-timer from Kyle Neuber. The period would end 1-1.

Photo by: Christina Slemp for Inside the Rink

The Everblades would begin to take over the game in the second period as they sustained several offensive zone attacks. Goaltender John Muse would continue to be huge in keeping the puck out of the net for the Railers, and it looked like the teams would go into the locker room still tied 1-1. Both teams would have powerplay opportunities in the second period without success until Cam Darcy would score his first goal of the year at 19:36 with the man advantage. The Everblades took the lead to the locker room, 2-1.

Photo by: Christina Slemp for Inside the Rink

The Railers would press in the third period. The Everblades would continue to visit the penalty box on two-minute infractions by Zach Uens for tripping at 11:07 and Will Reilly for delay of game at 17:08. The Railers would outshoot the Everblades 14-9 in the period, but it would be captain Joe Pendenza who would be the only player from either team to score. Pendenza would score an empty net goal at 19:18, giving him 17 on the season and 99 as an Everblade. The goal sealed the victory for the Everblades, and for the second consecutive game, they beat the Railers 3-1. All three Stars of the Game came from the Everblades. Goaltender David Tendeck was the third star with his 35 saves and .972 save percentage. Forward Evan Boucher received the second star for his first career goal, and Cam Darcy was the first star with his game-winning goal.

Photo by: Christina Slemp for Inside the Rink

The win gave the Everblades 61 points in 50 games and moved them five points ahead of the Orlando Solar Bears and four points behind the South Carolina Stingrays. Everblades forward Oliver Chau saw his five-game home goal-scoring streak snapped. The Everblades are second in the league in penalty-killing with 85.3 percent; however, they had given up powerplay goals in three straight games. The Everblades broke that streak Saturday night, killing off four penalties. 

The Everblades finish the three-game series against the Worcester Railers on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Hertz Arena. 

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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