20 Club: 'Blades Clinch Playoff Spot with 3-1 Win over Atlanta
ESTERO, Fla. - Though they had clinched a playoff spot before the final horn sounded on Friday night, the Florida Everblades still followed through to put an exclamation point on locking down their fifth straight playoff appearance.
Blake Winiecki netted his third multi-goal game of the season and Jeremy Helvig turned in a 36-save effort to lead the 'Blades (41-15-5-0, 87 pts.) to a 3-1 win over the Atlanta Gladiators at Hertz Arena.
Special teams have played a key role as of late for Florida, and that trend continued Friday against Atlanta (24-25-7-1, 56 pts.). Entering Friday, the 'Blades had scored eight power-play goals over their last five home games. Florida scored two more power-play goals on Friday on six chances, putting their conversion rate at 35.7 percent (10-for-28) over their last six games at Hertz Arena.
Winiecki got Florida on the board with 1:59 to play in the first period with Florida on the man advantage. Off the faceoff, Kyle Platzer found Matt Finn in the right circle, and Finn hammered a blast on goal. Winiecki got a piece of that shot and redirected it down low past the right pad of Atlanta goaltender Sean Bonar.
Finn wasted no time adding another goal, giving the 'Blades a 2-0 lead with a tally just 66 seconds after he set up Winiecki for the initial strike. Speeding down the ice with numbers, Michael Neville led Florida's stampede of three down through the right side of the ice. Neville dished to the right side for Finn, who ripped a shot from the top of the circle under the crossbar, sending the water bottle of Bonar flying from the top of the net.
Atlanta fought back within one on a power-play goal from Justin MacDonald in the first five minutes of the second period. During a net-mouth scramble, MacDonald found the puck at the right side of the net and tapped it in past Helvig at the 4:12 mark of period two.
Florida added to its lead on a partial power play with 8:36 to play in the third. Derek Sheppard sent a pass from the top of the left circle down to the left goal line extended for Kyle Platzer, who immediately zipped it to Winiecki in the slot. Winiecki uncorked a one-time shot from between the circles that beat Bonar upstairs.
Bonar was solid in goal for the Gladiators in the loss, coming up with a few highlight reel saves of the 35 he made in the game. But his effort simply wasn't enough, as the Gladiators offense scored just once for the second straight game against Florida.
Helvig earned his 22nd win with his second-highest save total of the season, finishing just one save shy of his career high.
Florida completes the three-game series against Atlanta with a 7 p.m. matchup on Saturday at Hertz Arena.
Ticket packages for the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club and 2019-20 Season Tickets and Flexible Packages are on sale now!
Join the FUN and 'Blades FAMILY by SAVING with Season Tickets or a Flexible Package that fit into your schedule and budget, plus receive FREE gifts and benefits!
SPECIAL OFFER! Purchase a new Season Ticket or Flexible Package for the 2019-20 season and receive a $20 gift card to Ford's Garage and an Everblades tote bag!
Private tours of Hertz Arena are available to select your season seats! Call the Florida Everblades Front Office at 239-948-7825 to schedule your tour today!
• Discuss this story on the ECHL message board...
ECHL Stories from March 8, 2019
- Swamp Rabbits Fall in Shootout - Greenville Swamp Rabbits
- 20 Club: 'Blades Clinch Playoff Spot with 3-1 Win over Atlanta - Florida Everblades
- Fuel Fall to First-Place Cyclones - Indy Fuel
- Cyclones Comeback against Fuel in Weekend Opener - Cincinnati Cyclones
- Conacher's Late Tally Earns Thunder a Point on Emotional Night - Adirondack Thunder
- Mavs Complete Stunning Comeback in Allen, Win 9-3 - Kansas City Mavericks
- Railers Win 4th Straight After 3-2 Shootout Win at Adirondack - Worcester Railers HC
- Bushee, McDonald Have Multi-Point Nights as K-Wings Fall 3-2 in OT - Kalamazoo Wings
- Gladiators Unable to Overcome Everblades in 3-1 Loss - Atlanta Gladiators
- Tschantz Scores Twice as Mariners Top Stingrays - Maine Mariners
- Mariners Keep Rays Quiet in Series Opener Friday Night - South Carolina Stingrays
- Justin Faryna Named 10th Captain of the Rapid City Rush - Rapid City Rush
- Solar Bears Drop Weekend Opener to Growlers, 5-1 - Orlando Solar Bears
- Growlers Tame the Solar Bears 5-1 - Newfoundland Growlers
- Todd Mackin Named Next President of Rush - Rapid City Rush
- Riley and Sakellaropoulos Get Calls to AHL - Adirondack Thunder
- Steve McParland Re-Joins Steelheads Prior to Tonight - Idaho Steelheads
- ECHL Transactions - March 8 - ECHL
- Oilers Sign Ferris State Forward Craig Pefley - Tulsa Oilers
- Game Preview: Solar Bears at Growlers - Orlando Solar Bears
- Preview: 'Blades Eye Playoff Spot Clinch, Host Gladiators on Friday - Florida Everblades
- Allen Americans Game Capsule - Allen Americans
- K-Wings Add Muskegon Native, Former Jr. K-Wing Trevor Boyd - Kalamazoo Wings
- Cyclones Game Preview: vs. Indy Fuel - Cincinnati Cyclones
- McKenzie Returns from AHL's Bruins - Atlanta Gladiators
- Atlanta Gets Furgele from Maine in Exchange for Troock - Atlanta Gladiators
- Game Day: Three-Game Homestand Kicks off against Komets - Kalamazoo Wings
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Florida Everblades Stories
- 'Blades Weekly: Return Home Brings Pair of South Division Foes
- AHL's Charlotte Checkers Recall Sheppard from Loan to 'Blades
- Opening Statement: Strong First Pushes 'Blades Past K-Wings
- Forward Zach Magwood Reassigned to Everblades from AHL's Admirals
- Cam Maclise Signs PTO with AHL's Chicago Wolves