'Blades Weekly: Eastern Conference Finals Opens Friday
ESTERO, Fla. - For the sixth time in team history, the Florida Everblades will battle for a conference championship, with the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals starting this week with Games 1-2 at Hertz Arena.
The Blades advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season by dispatching the Orlando Solar Bears, 4-1, in the South Division Finals. Florida completed the series victory with three straight road wins against the Solar Bears last week. Two of those three victories required overtime, which included a 2-1 double-overtime win over the Solar Bears in Game 5 on Saturday. That double-overtime victory was Florida's first double-overtime game since May 1, 2017, and its first win in a multiple-overtime game since a 5-4 double-overtime win over South Carolina on May 8, 2015.
The Everblades will meet the Newfoundland Growlers in the Eastern Conference Finals this year, which will be just the second all-time series between the two teams. Florida traveled to Newfoundland in mid-October to start the season, the Growlers' inaugural campaign in the ECHL. The two teams split the only two meetings so far. Newfoundland won 3-2 on its opening night, while the Blades responded with a 3-2 victory on Oct. 13.
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS
April 30 | at Orlando Solar Bears W, 3-2 (OT)
May 2 | at Orlando Solar Bears W, 4-0
May 3 | at Orlando Solar Bears W, 2-1 (2OT)
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
May 10 | vs. Newfoundland Growlers | 7:30 p.m. Hertz Arena
May 11 | vs. Newfoundland Growlers | 7 p.m. Hertz Arena
Rookie forward Blake Winiecki tabbed a goal in three of the five games against Orlando and is tied for the ECHL lead in playoff scoring among rookies with 12 points.
Entering last week, captain John McCarron had two career overtime goals in his ECHL career, one in the regular season and one in the postseason. He notched two overtime tallies in four days last week to help the Blades advance past Orlando.
Goaltender Callum Booth has made seven straight starts and has yielded less than two goals in four of those appearances. He has yet to allow more than two goals in any of his playoff starts and ranks first in the ECHL in goals-against average (1.14) and save percentage (.960).
Defenseman Matt Finn leads all ECHL defensemen with eight assists in the postseason.
Since allowing a power-play goal to Jacksonville in Game 4 of the South Division Semifinals, Florida has killed off 26 straight penalties over its last seven playoff contests. The Blades went 22-for-22 on the penalty kill in the five games against Orlando.
The four overtime games in the series with the Solar Bears tied the ECHL record for most overtime tilts in one playoff series. Only four times in league history have four games in one series required overtime, and two of those series have come this year.
The Blades have compiled a 4-0-1 record on home ice in the postseason this year on the heels of recording the second-best home record in the regular season (27-6-2-1).
ECHL PLAYOFF BRACKET
Eastern Conference Finals: Newfoundland (#2) vs. Florida (#1)
North Division Finals: Manchester (#3) vs. Newfoundland (#1) NFL wins 4-2
South Division Finals: Orlando (#2) vs. Florida (#1) FLA wins 4-1
North Division Semifinals: Brampton (#4) vs. Newfoundland (#1) NFL wins 4-2
North Division Semifinals: Manchester (#3) vs. Adirondack (#2) MAN wins 4-1
South Division Semifinals: Jacksonville (#4) vs. Florida (#1) FLA wins 4-2
South Division Semifinals: South Carolina (#3) vs. Orlando (#2) ORL wins 4-1
Western Conference Finals: Toledo (#3) vs. Tulsa (#2)
Central Division Finals: Toledo (#2) vs. Cincinnati (#1) TOL wins 4-1
Mountain Division Finals: Idaho (#2) vs. Tulsa (#1) TUL wins 4-2
Central Division Semifinals: Kalamazoo (#4) vs. Cincinnati (#1) CIN wins 4-2
Central Division Semifinals: Fort Wayne (#3) vs. Toledo (#2) TOL wins 4-2
Mountain Division Semifinals: Kansas City (#4) vs. Tulsa (#1) TUL wins 4-3
Mountain Division Semifinals: Utah (#3) vs. Idaho (#2) IDH wins 4-1
BLADES PLAYOFF LEADERS
G: Blake Winiecki (8)
A: Matt Finn (8)
PTS: Winiecki/John McCarron (12)
+/-: Ben Masella (+11)
SH: Winiecki (39)
GAA: Callum Booth (1.14)
SV%: Booth (.960)
Kids Eat Free in Breakaway Sports Pub (May 10) It's a Kids Eat Free in Breakaway Sports Pub Friday when the Blades host Newfoundland for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals!
Pregame Tailgate (May 11) The Everblades host Newfoundland in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Hertz Arena. Come early for a free pregame tailgate from 5-7 p.m. featuring live music and bounce houses for the kids!
EVERBLADES 2018-19 BROADCAST INFORMATION
Fans not in attendance at Hertz Arena can listen live to both games this weekend on 99.3 FM ESPN. A free online stream is also available at 993espn.com. Make sure to stay tuned to the Everblades' Facebook and Twitter for the latest broadcast information throughout the playoffs.
Fans can also watch the games on a subscription basis on ECHL.TV.
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 fits 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!
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