Everblades Gunning for 2-0 Series Lead in Eastern Conference Finals
ESTERO, Fla. - Sporting a 1-0 lead in the 2022 Kelly Cup Eastern Conference Finals, the Florida Everblades will face off against the host Newfoundland Growlers in Game Two Sunday evening at 5:30 pm EST in Mary Brown's Centre. The Blades are hoping to return to Southwest Florida with a two-games-to-none lead before taking to Hertz Arena ice for a possible three games, starting with Game Three Wednesday night at 7:30 pm. The winner of the Eastern Finals will secure the E.A. "Bud" Gingher Memorial Trophy and a chance to face either the Utah Grizzlies or the Toledo Walleye for the 2022 Kelly Cup.
With Friday night's victory, the Blades have captured the opening game of their third straight playoff series this season, while improving to a league-best 4-1 in overtime games as five of the team's 10 Kelly Cup Playoff games have required extra time to determine a victor.
The Everblades are making their first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since 2019 and sixth conference finals appearance in franchise history. The Blades are 4-2 all-time in the Eastern Finals, picking up series wins in 2004, 2005, 2012 and 2018, while coming up short in 2007 and 2019. Florida went on to win the Kelly Cup in 2012.
The series shifts to Hertz Arena for Games Three and Four on Wednesday, May 25 and Friday, May 27, with the puck dropping at 7:30 pm EST both nights. Should the series require a Game Five, that contest would take place Saturday, May 28 in Estero. If needed, Games Six and Seven would takes place in Newfoundland.
Fans unable to catch any of the Eastern Conference Finals games in person can watch every Florida Everblades game on FloHockey.TV. In addition, fans can listen to the exciting game action on ESPN Southwest Florida at www.espnswfl.com or 770 AM, 98.1 FM, 104.3 FM.
2022 Kelly Cup Playoff Tickets are now on sale. Join the Blades in their pursuit for a second Kelly Cup title! To learn more, call or text (239) 948-7825 or purchase HERE.
2022 KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS - EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS AT A GLANCE
Everblades Lead Series 1-0
Game 1 Friday, May 20 Everblades 4, Growlers 3 (OT)
Game 2 Sunday, May 22 Everblades at Growlers Mary Brown's Centre 7:00 pm NST / 5:30 pm EST
Game 3 Wednesday, May 25 Growlers at Everblades Hertz Arena 7:30 pm EST
Game 4 Friday, May 27 Growlers at Everblades Hertz Arena 7:30 pm EST
Game 5 * Saturday, May 28 Growlers at Everblades Hertz Arena 7:00 pm EST
Game 6 * Tuesday, May 31 Everblades at Growlers Mary Brown's Centre 7:00 pm NST / 5:30 pm EST
Game 7 * Wednesday, June 1 Everblades at Growlers Mary Brown's Centre 7:00 pm NST / 5:30 pm EST
* Games 5, 6 and 7, if Necessary
NEWS AND NOTES
GAME ONE RECAP: Zach Solow potted the game-winning goal 4:47 into overtime and John McCarron collected his third assist of the game to lift the Florida Everblades to a thrilling 4-3 victory in the opening game of the ECHL Kelly Cup Eastern Conference Finals Friday evening at Mary Brown's Centre. The victory was the Everblades' fourth overtime victory of the 2022 postseason, best among all ECHL playoff teams. Newfoundland's Tyler Boland scored the only goal of the opening period, spotting the Growlers a 1-0 lead just 3:16 into the contest. The Everblades scored two goals 35 seconds apart in the second frame to take a 2-1 lead. Jake Jaremko collected a shorthanded tally at 16:09, while Jordan Sambrook struck at 16:35. Both teams alternated goals in the third stanza, with the Growlers' James Melindy (5:19), Florida's Darik Angeli (6:35) and Newfoundland's Ryan Chyzowski (13:43) closing out the scoring in regulation to send the game into overtime knotted at 3-3. Solow's game-winner less than five minutes into the extra period made a winner out of Cam Johnson, who registered 33 saves to earn his sixth consecutive win of the Kelly Cup Playoffs and eighth overall this postseason.
THE COACH STANDS ALONE: The 4-3 overtime victory in Game One of the Eastern Finals was the Everblades' ninth victory of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, giving Florida head coach Brad Ralph sole possession of the all-time lead for ECHL playoff wins by a head coach with his 56th career victory, passing John Brophy, who authored 55 playoff wins with Hampton Roads from 1989-2000. Ralph is in his sixth season as the Everblades' head coach and ninth overall as an ECHL head coach. In addition to Ralph setting the ECHL mark for playoff wins by a head coach, the Blades' bench boss sits alone in third place with 99 games coached, five games shy of second-place all-time (Steve Martinson, 104) and nine off the all-time mark of 108 held by Matt Thomas.
TEAM TIDBITS: With Friday night's victory, the Blades have captured the opening game of their third straight playoff series this season, while improving to a league-best 4-1 in overtime games as five of the team's 10 Kelly Cup Playoff games have required extra time to determine a victor...While the Everblades surrendered the first goal of a playoff game for the first time in five contests dating back to Game Six of the South Division semifinals, Florida's four-goal performance on Friday was their top output since putting up a five-spot in Game Two of the South Division finals...In 11 playoff games this season, the Blades have scored four goals on three separate occasions, while netting five twice. Both of Florida's losses this postseason came in the only games in which the Everblades scored exactly three goals, once in regulation and once in overtime...As the third series of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs is underway, the Everblades have yet to trail in a series and sport a 9-1-1 mark in 11 contests, including a 5-0-1 in games away from Hertz Arena...Florida is the only team not to suffer a setback in regulation this postseason.
DEFENSE REIGNS SUPREME: Through their first 11 Kelly Cup Playoff games, the Everblades continue to sport the ECHL's stingiest postseason defense, as they have surrendered just 2.09 goals per game, outscoring their opponents 35-23. The Blades held Newfoundland to just three goals in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, snapping a four-game streak in which the Growlers had scored four or more goals. The Growlers entered the series leading all Kelly Cup Playoff squads with 4.07 goals scored per game and in 15 playoff games this year, the Newfoundland club collected four or more goals in 10 games. The Growlers are currently 0-5 when scoring fewer than four goals this postseason, while on the flip side, they are 8-1 when putting four or more pucks in the opponent's net.
SPECIAL TEAMS REPORT: Entering the series, both the Blades and Growlers were virtually identical on the power play over the postseason. Florida had converted 22.7 percent (10-for-44) of its opportunities, good for sixth in the ECHL, while Newfoundland ranked fifth at 22.8 percent (13-for-57). In Game One, Newfoundland converted two of three man-up opportunities, while the Everblades were successful on one of five power place chances. The one conversion, however, was the one that counted, as Zach Solow's overtime game-winner came 1:44 into the only power-play opportunity for either team in the game. Florida's Jake Jaremko picked up the Blades' second shorthanded tally of the playoffs, which puts the club in a tie for fourth this postseason. The Blades tied for fifth in the regular season with 14 shorthanded markers, led by John McCarron's league-best six.
MULTI MAGIC MEN: John McCarron's three-assist performance in Game One was the first such outing turned in by an Everblade this postseason and lifted Captain Everblade into a tie with Joe Pendenza for the team lead with three multi-point games this postseason. The three-assist performance was McCarron's first in the playoffs since he picked three apples in a 7-4 victory over Orlando on April 26, 2017 in his only previous three-assist game in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. For Dylan Vander Esch, a two-assist effort on Friday was his second of this year's playoffs.
WHAT LAYOFF?: The nine-day layoff since the Everblades closed out a four-game sweep of Jacksonville in the South Division Finals on May 11 did not impact the stellar Cam Johnson. The Everblades' netminder chalked up his eighth win in nine starts, improving to 8-0-1 in between the pipes this postseason. Johnson is now tied for the ECHL lead with eight playoff wins, matching the total recorded by Newfoundland's Keith Petruzzelli (8-5-1) and Toledo's Billy Christopoulos (8-2-2). Johnson's 1.54 GAA and .938 save percentage both rank second in the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, while his three shutouts are the league's best.
CAPTAIN EVERBLADE CONTINUES HIS ASCENT: This season, Everblades Captain John McCarron became the franchise's all-time leader in goals scored, assists and points. Johnny Mac is now within striking distance of the top spot for overall games played, including playoffs. With 415 games played in an Everblades sweater, McCarron is just three behind Matthieu Roy for second place (418) and five behind Ernie Hartlieb, who sits in the top spot with 420.
WAY OUT WEST: The Everblades and Growlers will keep an eye on the Western Conference Finals as the Toledo Walleye meet the Utah Grizzlies. Utah held serve in Game One, claiming a 5-4 overtime win, before Toledo repaid the favor with a 5-2 victory in Game Two. Coupled with the Everblades' 4-3 overtime win in the Eastern Conference Finals opener, it marked the first time since 1999 that the opening game of both conference finals required overtime.
BLADES KELLY CUP HISTORY: In the franchise's 24th season, the Everblades have qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs every season except for one. For the Everblades, this marks the first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since 2019 and seventh conference finals appearance in franchise history. The Blades are 4-2 all-time in the Eastern Finals, picking up series wins in 2004, 2005, 2012 and 2018, while coming up short in 2007 and 2019. Florida went on to win the Kelly Cup in 2012.
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ECHL Stories from May 22, 2022
- Johnson's Fourth Shutout and Solow's Game-Winner Propel Everblades to 2-0 Lead in Eastern Conference Finals - Florida Everblades
- Growlers Shutout 2-0 by Everblades in Game Two - Newfoundland Growlers
- ECHL Transactions - May 22 - ECHL
- Everblades Gunning for 2-0 Series Lead in Eastern Conference Finals - Florida Everblades
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