Everblades Host Icemen in Season Opener Saturday Night
WHO: Florida Everblades vs. Jacksonville Icemen
WHERE: Hertz Arena - Estero, Fla.
WHEN: Saturday, October 23 at 7:00 pm
BROADCAST: Watch every Florida Everblades game on FloHockey.TV. Listen to the exciting game action on ESPN Southwest Florida on 770 AM, 98.1 FM, 104.3 FM and online at https://espnswfl.com.
ESTERO, Fla. - The Florida Everblades will host the Jacksonville Icemen in the 2021-22 regular-season opener Saturday night at Hertz Arena. The puck is slated to drop on the new season at 7:00 pm.
THE SERIES: The Sunshine State rivals will meet 10 times this season. A year ago, the Blades and Icemen faced off 16 times, and the Everblades came away with a 7-6-2-1 advantage. In the all-time series, Florida holds a 35-10-7 edge, good for a .740 winning percentage.
LAST SEASON: The Everblades turned in a 42-19-5-3 record and finished first in the ECHL's Eastern Conference before advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Jacksonville turned in a 34-30-3-4 record to finish sixth in the east. The Icemen did not qualify for the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs.
THE RALPH REPORT: The Everblades are guided by sixth-year head coach and director of hockey operations Brad Ralph. In five seasons leading the Blades, Ralph has compiled a 234-82-28 (.721) record. Over 11 seasons as a professional head coach, Ralph has piloted his teams to a 366-146-47 record (.697).
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The 2021-22 Everblades team has high expectations to continue a long tradition of excellence dating back to the franchise's inception in the 1998-99 season. The Blades have qualified for the postseason every year in club history, except for the 2013-14 season, when the squad came up two points shy of a playoff berth. Florida is on a quest to capture the organization's second Kelly Cup and first since 2011-12.
COUNTING DOWN WITH THE CAPTAIN: Entering the new season, Everblades captain John McCarron continues his climb up the team's all-time regular-season leaderboards. With 122 career goals while donning a Blades sweater, McCarron currently ranks third in franchise history. McCarron is just 23 goals shy of Reggie Berg's all-time mark of 145. Not one to be selfish, McCarron also ranks fourth in Blades history with 162 assists, some 45 shy of Tom Buckley's team record of 207. With 284 career points, McCarron stands fourth, just 35 behind Berg's cherished record of 319.
CAM'S BACK: Goaltender Cam Johnson has rejoined the Everblades in advance of Saturday's season opener. This season represents his third in an Everblades jersey and his fourth at the professional level. The Troy, Michigan native posted a 1.77 GAA and a .941 save percentage across seven appearances in 2020-21. The campaign included ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors for Johnson on December 21, 2020. Before turning pro, Johnson saw 102 games of action between the pipes for the University of North Dakota from 2014-18, lifting UND to a national championship in 2016. Johnson has been on the NHL roster of both the New Jersey Devils (2018-19) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (2020-21).
ZACH IN JAX: Defenseman Zach Berzolla, who saw action in 19 games with the Everblades in 2020-21, is currently on the Jacksonville roster. Berzolla scored a goal and collected two assists in 15 regular-season games with the Blades a year ago, while also chipping in one assist over four playoff games.
SATURDAY NIGHT TAILGATE: Each of the 14 Saturday night Everblades games this season will feature a free pregame tailgate party, and the season opener is no exception. Join us from 5:00 to 7:00 pm and live music courtesy of A Few Rough Edges, kids' activities! Find the full schedule of Saturday tailgate party performers HERE!
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