ECHL Weekly Recap: Florida Everblades | 02/05-11/2024

Photo by: James Slemp for Inside the Rink

The Florida Everblades went from famine to feast last week. They entered last week on a five-game losing streak, dropping games against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Jacksonville Icemen, and Savannah Ghost Pirates. Their opponent the previous week was the North-division leading Adirondack Thunder, who entered game one Wednesday night on a 17-game point streak. The Everblades faced a tough challenge in playing the team with the second-best record in the league and needing to win as many games as possible to move into a playoff spot. The gloomy outlook Wednesday morning soon turned into a rosy glow as the Everblades swept the Thunder, soundly defeating them in all three games.

Related Post: Joe Pendenza: That Love of the Game and Baking

On the stat sheet, the Thunder should have easily handled the Everblades. They held the lead in goals for and against per game and had won the earlier series in late November two games to one. The Everblades were dealt a massive blow to their successful goalie tandem when the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL recalled Evan Cormier. In his absence, the team traded for David Tendeck, a backup for the Idaho Steelheads. 24-year-old Tendeck had started the season with the Wheeling Nailers, playing four games for them going 2-2-0 with a .830 save percentage. He was released from the Nailers on November 29 and signed a PTO with the Henderson Silver Knights of the AHL on December 4. He didn’t play any games for the Silver Knights and was released. He signed a contract with the Idaho Steelheads on December 27. He played in four games for the Steelheads, going 1-3-0 with a .835 save percentage before being traded to the Everblades on February 6. Forward Tyler Kobryn returned to the Fayetteville Marksmen in the SPHL on February 9 after playing three games with the Everblades. He scored his only point, a goal, in his first game, a win against the Atlanta Gladiators.

Photo by: Christina Slemp for Inside the Rink

Game one Wednesday night started on a sour note as Tristan Ashbrook (14) scored for the Thunder at 1:42 of the first period. Everblades forward Kyle Neuber, wanting to spark the crowd and the team, squared off against Darian Skeoch seven seconds later. Nathan Staois (8) tied the game up 21 seconds after the fight, and the Everblades pulled at 14:12 when Mark Senden scored his sixth goal of the season. The Thunder would tie the game early in the second on a goal by team points leader Shane Harper (12), but the Everblades would score goals by Bobo Carpenter (18) and Oliver Chau (12) to retake the lead. Shane Harper (13) scored his second goal of the game, a shorthanded goal, but that would be as close as the Thunder would get. The Everblades won the game 6-3. Cam Johnson would win with a .906 save percentage, and Vinnie Purpura would get the loss with a .850 save percentage.

Photo by: James Slemp for Inside the Rink

A near-sellout crowd greeted the Everblades Friday night for game two. The Everblades would score first when defenseman Zach Uens channeled his inner power forward, scoring his first goal of the season at fifteen seconds in the first period. The Everblades would add goals by Nathan Staois (9), a shorthanded goal by Oliver Chau (13), and Mark Senden (7). Brayden Crowder would score his first goal of the season and the only goal of the night for the Thunder. Cam Johnson would get his second win of the series with a .966 save percentage. Tyler Brennan would take the loss for the Thunder with a .750 save percentage; he was injured in the first period and was replaced by Jeremy Brodeur, who had a .917 save percentage in relief.

The Florida Everblades brought out the Skunk Apes motif, a fan-favorite theme that the team morphs into once each season, in front of a sellout crowd for their last game in the series. For the third time in the series, a team scored within the game’s first two minutes. Ryan Smith scored his 19th of the season at 1:27 to give the Thunder the lead. The Everblades, however, would shake off the cobwebs and press the attack. They finally broke through with a powerplay goal by Oliver Chau (14) at 18:24 of the second period. Luke Santerno (5) was left alone in front of Jeremy Brodeur and backhanded the puck past the netminder. Bobo Carpenter (20) scored an empty net goal at 18:45 in the third and the Everblades completed the sweep 3-1. The three wins moved the Everblades into fourth place, just ahead of the Orlando Solar Bears. When asked how they managed to sweep the Thunder, captain Joe Pendenza said, “We simplified our game because sometimes we’ve been overcomplicating it. We played simple hockey against the Thunder, more north and south, and it’s been working.”

The Everblades offense got going against the Thunder, scoring 13 goals in the three games. Bobo Carpenter led the team with three goals, two assists, and five points. Luke Santerno and Oliver Chau each recorded four points, and five players had three points. Coach Brad Ralph discussed the contributions of Nathan Staios at forward since moving from defense, “He’s got so much skill with the puck on his stick. He plays with two responsible players, and he adds that splash of offense. He’s been a great teammate willing to play up or back and just be versatile and help the team any way he can.” Luke Santerno has scored in all four games he’s played with the Everblades since his trade from the Kansas City Mavericks; he recorded a game-winning goal and three assists against the Thunder. He equates his success with “finding good chemistry with Cam Darcy and Nathan Staois. We think the same, and we all like to work hard, and it’s been paying off for us.”

Photo by: James Slemp for Inside the Rink

All four teams in playoff spots in the South Division have more wins than losses over their past ten games, and the Greenville Swamp Rabbits remained entrenched in first place. In a rare four-game week, the Everblades face the Orlando Solar Bears at home on Wednesday before going on the road for one game against the Jacksonville Icemen and two against the South Carolina Stingrays. The Everblades have not played well against the Icemen and the Stingrays; they are 0-4-1-0 against the Icemen and 1-1-1-0 against the Stingrays. The Icemen and Stingrays lead the division in goal differential with 39 and 33, respectively. The Everblades have a 20-goal differential, and their offensive output against the Thunder will need to continue if they hope to win on the road. Coach Ralph said, “We’ve gone through some ups and downs, but I like the progression. I like the momentum we’re building and how our team is starting to play.”

The Everblades’ next game is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Hertz Arena against the Orlando Solar Bears.

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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