'Blades Weekly: Norfolk Pays Second Visit to Estero
ESTERO, Fla. - With two weeks left in the 2018-19 regular season, the Florida Everblades (45-16-5-1, 96 pts.) welcome the Norfolk Admirals for a three-game series this week at Hertz Arena.
The Everblades are coming off their only one-game week of the regular season, which featured their sixth shootout game of the year and fourth in a two-week span. Entering Saturday night against Orlando, Florida had not lost in a shootout at home in more than a year, dating back to a 4-3 shootout setback against Greenville on Feb. 2, 2018. After Nathan Perkovich scored in the first round of the shootout for Florida, Orlando's final two shooters both scored to give the Solar Bears the extra standings point.
Florida plays its last three-game week of the regular season this week, hosting the Admirals for the second time this year. The two teams haven't faced off since the end of November when the Everblades earned five of six possible points in a three-game set in Norfolk. The 'Blades started their home schedule with a two-game set against the Admirals on Oct. 19-20, falling 1-0 in their home opener before drubbing Norfolk, 6-1, in the series finale.
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS
March 23 | vs. Orlando Solar Bears - W, 4-3 (SO)
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
March 27 | vs. Norfolk Admirals | 7:30 p.m. - Hertz Arena
March 29 | vs. Norfolk Admirals | 7:30 p.m. - Hertz Arena
March 30 | vs. Norfolk Admirals | 7 p.m. - Hertz Arena
Since the 'Blades lost captain John McCarron and alternate captain Joe Cox to AHL call-ups, rookie Blake Winiecki has picked up the pace offensively. He registered an assist on Saturday against Orlando and has at least one point in nine of his last 11 games (9g-6a).
Winiecki's 54-point season is tied for the highest point total by an Everblades rookie since Matt Willows' 66-point campaign in 2015-16.
Rookie goaltender Jeremy Helvig has shouldered the load lately in between the pipes, starting in seven of Florida's last 10 games. He is fourth in the ECHL is goals-against average with a 2.33 mark and is tied for the league lead among rookies with 24 wins.
Perkovich has been another key offensive weapon of late and recorded a goal on Saturday. The 33-year-old has points in seven of his last eight tilts (5g-5a). He scored in the shootout on Saturday and has three shootout goals on four attempts this year.
Florida's power play stayed red hot on Saturday with two goals on four chances. The Everblades have at least one power-play marker in seven of their last eight games and have converted on 35.1 percent (13-37) of their power plays in that stretch.
The Everblades were previously the ECHL's only undefeated team in shootouts this year before Saturday's shootout loss to Orlando and had their six-game winning streak in overtime and shootout affairs snapped.
This season's series with Orlando has involved a lot of nail-biting affairs. With Saturday's shootout contest, the two teams have gone to overtime in five of the 11 total matchups. The most overtime or shootout games Florida has against an opponent other than the Solar Bears is two (Greenville/Atlanta).
Florida has capitalized on Orlando's weakness on the penalty kill. The 'Blades have converted on 12-of-33 power plays in the last seven meetings with Orlando and have scored multiple times on the power play in six of those games.
SOUTH DIVISION STANDINGS
xy - Florida Everblades: 45-16-5-1, 96 PTS
Orlando Solar Bears: 36-23-4-1, 77 PTS
Jacksonville Icemen: 34-28-2-2, 72 PTS
South Carolina Stingrays: 32-30-5-1, 70 PTS
Atlanta Gladiators: 29-26-7-3, 68 PTS
Norfolk Admirals: 26-32-5-3, 60 PTS
Greenville Swamp Rabbits: 22-38-3-3, 50 PTS
x - clinched playoff position, y - clinched division
G: Joe Cox (27)
A: Cox (34)
PTS: Cox (61)
+/-: Cox (+46)
SH: John McCarron (179)
GAA: Jeremy Helvig (2.33)
SV%: Helvig (.915)
$2 Wednesday (March 27) - It's the final $2 Wednesday of the regular season, featuring $2 beer, wine and hot dogs courtesy of Bud Light, Barefoot and John Morrell!
Bottomless Popcorn Friday (March 29) - It's a Bottomless Popcorn and Kids Eat Free in Breakaway Sports Pub Friday when the 'Blades face the Norfolk Admirals.
Guns & Hoses Night (March 30) - The night gets underway with a Firefighter against Police game at 4:15 p.m. as part of the 'Blades annual Guns & Hoses Night presented by Muscular Dystrophy Association. The Everblades will wear specialty jerseys that will be auctioned off postgame to benefit MDA, and there will be a free pregame tailgate from 5-7 p.m.
EVERBLADES 2018-19 BROADCAST INFORMATION
Catch all the exciting action of Everblades hockey on WJBX News, Talk & More on 101.5 FM, 104.3 FM, 770 AM on the radio waves, or listen for FREE online.
Fans can also watch the games on a subscription basis on ECHL.TV.
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!
Images from this story
Florida Everblades right wing Grant Arnold (right) against the Norfolk Admirals
(Kevin Bires Photography)
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