'Blades hold first place after 7-2 stomping of Gwinnett
DULUTH, GA - The Florida Everblades (36-17-4) ended their four-game road trip in strong fashion by pounding division rival Gwinnett (33-18-6) by a final score of 7-2 to maintain their first place standing in the South Division. The Everblades improved to 4-4-1 vs. the Gladiators this season with the help of two goals by Vince Bellissimo and Brad Zancanaro each on Tuesday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in front of a crowd of 3,427.
The Everblades got themselves off to a quick start by scoring a pair of first period goals. Zancanaro opened the scoring just 1:38 into the contest by slipping a sharp-angle shot from the bottom of the left circle through the pads of Gwinnett goaltender Dan Turple. Zancanaro's 11th goal of the year was unassisted. The Everblades added to their lead just past the midpoint of the frame when Dustin Johner, who's penalty had just expired, took a lead pass from Ryan Brindley down the right side and was able to chip the puck into the left side of the net as cut across the front of the goal at 12:11. The goal was Johner's 23rd of the season.
As the second period commenced, the Everblades saw their lead trimmed in half when Jamie Milam's wrist shot sailed over the glove of Everblades net minder Craig Kowalski at 5:34. The game remained 2-1 until the late stage of the frame when Bellissimo notched his 20th goal of the year with a wrist shot from the left circle with just 1:32 remaining. Adam Taylor picked up the lone assist on the marker.
In the third period the Everblades exploded for three goals in the first nine minutes to blow the game open. Ernie Hartlieb began the barrage with his third goal of the season with a shot from the high slot just 2:24 into the frame. Johner and Jon Lehun collected the assists on the power play goal. Florida extended their lead to 5-1 at 3:41 of the period when Bellissimo collected his own dump in to the right corner and fired a shot from the right circle between Turple's pads. Kowalski picked up the assist on Bellissimo's 21st goal of the season. The trio of early goals finished with Reggie Berg tapping in his 22nd goal of the season at 8:13 after taking a pass from Brindley, who was fed a pass by Jarret Lukin.
The Gladiators managed to get one of the goals back, notching a power play goal by Joel Stepp at 11:14 to cut the lead to 6-2, however the Everblades put the exclamation point on the contest when Zancanaro scored his second goal of the night and 12th of the year with one second remaining in the game. Lukin picked up the lone assist on the tally.
In net, Kowalski picked up the win by stopping 28 of 30 Gwinnett shots to improve his record to 23-10-3, and Turple suffered his first loss of the season to Florida in five games by allowing the seven goals on 41 shots, which dropped his record to 16-10-3.
On the power play, the Everblades finished the game 1-for-7, while the Gladiators closed out the game 1-for-6.
The Florida Everblades, proud affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers, return to action on Tuesday, March 6 when they travel Duluth, GA to take on the Gwinnett Gladiators at 7:05 p.m. from the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Florida Everblades group and individual game tickets & mini-plans are now available! Reserve your seat for all the exciting action today by calling (239) 948-7825. Visit www.floridaeverblades.com and www.germainarena.com for more information on group ticket packages, pricing and upcoming Germain Arena events.
1) Vince Bellissimo - FLA
2) Craig Kowalski - FLA
3) Dustin Johner - FLA
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