Craggs Cracks IceMen, 'Blades Win 6-3
ESTERO, Fla. - Lukas Craggs put up three points (2g, 1a), and the Florida Everblades scored six goals for the second straight game to run their home winning streak to six games with a 6-3 victory over the Jacksonville Icemen on Friday night at Hertz Arena.
Playing Jacksonville (19-25-5-1, 44 pts.) for the first time since Jan. 25, Florida (37-12-3-2, 79 pts.) answered a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals to push its home point streak to 10 games (9-0-1).
Mike Hedden scored on the power play to give Jacksonville a 1-0 lead at the 3:29 mark of the first, but Florida potted the final two tallies of the first to take a 2-1 lead to the first intermission.
The 'Blades answered back with Joe Pendenza's 11th of the season at 8:36 of the first. With the 'Blades buzzing in the offensive zone, Michael Downing knuckled a puck toward the net that Zach Magwood chopped at in the slot. Pendenza settled the puck in the slot and quickly released it past the glove of Jacksonville goaltender Adam Carlson.
Magwood matched his jersey number by scoring his 18th goal of the season to give the 'Blades the lead at 15:25 of the opening period. Ben Masella cranked the initial shot off the chest of Carlson, and Magwood found the rebound on the side of the net. As Carlson was diving over to attempt the save, Magwood slipped it by into the net.
Justin Auger put on a show early in the second period, scoring the first of Florida's three goals in the frame to extend the lead two goals. There was no stopping the 6-foot-6 forward in the offensive zone. He took the puck up the left-wing boards, toe-dragged into the high slot, and then cut inside two Jacksonville players before sniping the glove side of Carlson for the goal.
Craggs connected on a one-time feed from Hunter Garlent at 8:26 of the second to make it 4-1. Brandon Fortunato threaded the needle with a blue-line-to-blue-line pass, hitting the tape of Garlent as he and Craggs were entering the offensive zone on a two-on-one rush. At the top of the left circle, Garlent snapped a pass to Craggs on the opposite side of the cage for a one-time bomb over the glove of a stretched-out Carlson.
A little less than three minutes later, Hedden's second goal of the night cut the 'Blades lead in half. He lasered a glove-side snipe past Everblades goaltender Ken Appleby at 11:11 of the second period.
Michael Huntebrinker gave the 'Blades their three-goal lead back with his fourth shorthanded goal of the season at 14:10 of the second. Hunter Garlent started the play in the 'Blades end of the ice, intercepting a pass and tossing it up to Huntebrinker to send him on a breakaway. Huntebrinker then deked to his backhand to open the legs of Carlson and slipped the puck through the five-hole.
The Icemen got the goal right back with a power-play tally on the same penalty 24 seconds later. After making the initial save on a cross-crease one-timer from Adam Dauda, Appleby couldn't locate the puck, and Brendan Warren slid it in to bring Jacksonville back within two goals.
Florida held serve the rest of the way, and Craggs scored on an empty net with 2:57 left in regulation to seal the victory.
The Everblades' 10-game home point streak is the third double-digit home point streak under fourth-year head coach Brad Ralph.
Appleby extended his personal home unbeaten streak to seven games and moved into sole possession of the ECHL lead in wins with 24.
Craggs has been an offensive dynamo as of late, scoring five goals in his last three games and recording six goals and five assists over his last eight games.
Garlent extended his point streak to six games with two assists on Friday. He has notched three goals and six assists in that streak. The two-point game pushed Garlent over 30 points for the season.
The Everblades improved to 20-2-0-0 when Auger scores a goal. His 24th tally of the season gave him back the team lead in that category.
Florida reached 20 home wins on Friday, the 20th time in the team's 22 seasons in the ECHL that it has accomplished that feat. Florida has won at least 25 home games in all four of Ralph's seasons behind the bench.
Florida wraps up the home portion of its four-game week with a Saturday night matchup against the Norfolk Admirals, the first game against Norfolk since Oct. 19.
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