ECHL Kelly Cup Preview: Florida Everblades and Idaho Steelheads Battle for The Kelly Cup

Playoff Promises: Both the Florida Everblades and the Idaho Steelheads have fought incredibly hard this postseason. The Steelheads’ direct opponents were the Utah Grizzlies, the Allen Americans, and the Toledo Walleye. The Everblades have faced the South Carolina Stingrays, Jacksonville Icemen, and Newfoundland Growlers. The two will face each other in this year’s Kelly Cup finals series. Florida, who was the #11 seed, and number four seed in the weakest division in the ECHL this season, had made it to their second consecutive Kelly Cup Finals appearance under Brad Ralph, who can easily be considered one of the top coaches in the ECHL, as he’s yet to miss the Kelly Cup Finals in his coaching career, the last time a #11 seed won a Kelly Cup was in 2004 when the Idaho Steelheads did it. Speaking of the Steelheads who won the Brabham Cup, a top seed hasn’t won the Kelly Cup since 2014 when the Alaska Aces did it.

Evergreen Everblades:

The Florida Everblades have been on a remarkable run, and they’ve been getting scoring from all across their roster. John McCarron, who came out of his “pause” on his career, has been exceptional for the Everblades, putting up six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 18 Kelly Cup Playoff games, including three game-winning goals, two of which came in double overtime, during the Everblades 4-2 series win over the Newfoundland Growlers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Tyler Irvine, who only played in 15 regular season games, put up four goals and five assists for nine points and has taken his game to another level in the Kelly Cup Finals; he leads the Everblades with nine goals and five assists for 14 points in 18 games. Sean Josling leads the Everblades with nine goals (four of which came on the PP) and seven assists for 15 points during the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Undoubtedly, goaltending will be one of the most significant factors coming into the Kelly Cup Finals, and Cam Johnson has certainly done the job for the Everblades. In the 18 Kelly Cup Playoff Games, he’s put up a record of 12-4-2 with a 2.15 GAA, .919 SV%, and three shutouts. He leads Scheel in most goaltending categories during the Kelly Cup Playoffs, which may surprise some, but it’s not a shock for those who have seen Johnson play.

Stunning Steelheads:

Wade Murphy has easily been Idaho’s best player during the Kelly Cup Playoffs, and some can argue he’s been the best overall player in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Murphy leads all players in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with 12 goals and 20 points. However, for the Steelheads, they have a ton of players who have been exceptional all season. Ty Pelton-Bryce and Ryan Dmowski each have eight goals for the Steelheads during the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Steelheads come into the Finals second behind Toledo on the PP, finding the back of the net 26.1% of the time, which means the Everblades will have to play disciplined hockey if they want a chance in this series.

Owen Headrick leads his fierce defense in scoring goals with three. He also leads the defense in points with 18, followed by Patrick Kudla with 12. It’s unsurprising that Murphy also leads in overall points during the postseason with 20, followed by Pelton-Byce with 15 and Dmowski with 14. Wade Murphy is tied with Jordan Kawaguchi in assists, with both having eight, and both Pelton-Byce and A.J. White both have seven. The top three defenders in assists are Owen Headrick, Patrick Kudla, and Matt Register. Adam Scheel, who many got robbed of the Goaltender Of The Year Award, has shown why he deserved to win it. During the Western Conference Finals, Scheel had three straight shutouts in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, which had never been done before. Scheel is 12-4 with a 2.52 GAA, .915 SV%, and three shutouts. Idaho’s Goaltender Scheel and Remi Poirier are on NHL contracts with the Dallas Stars.

Gabi’s Guesstimate: 

I think the series will go on for six or seven games, and I expect hard fights from both teams. I believe there will be an abundance of physical aggression. There will also be a lot of offensive and defensive tension between the two teams. With both Scheel and Johnson in the nets, it will be a huge challenge for either team in terms of scoring goals. Ultimately, I think the Everblades will come out on top and win the Kelly Cup for the second year. 

Gabrielle Klempner

Hello! I'm Gabi and I mainly cover the ECHL's Savannah Ghost Pirates, but also the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken. For updates, articles, and more on these teams, follow me on Twitter @gabriellediane0

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