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Everblades Return Home with 2-0 Lead in Eastern Conference Finals

May 25, 2022 - ECHL (ECHL) - Florida Everblades News Release


ESTERO, Fla. - The Florida Everblades take to the ice at Hertz Arena for the first time in 18 days as they host the Newfoundland Growlers in Game Three of the 2022 ECHL Kelly Cup Eastern Conference Finals. With a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Blades will host Games Three and Four, as well as a potential Game Five, as they look to move onto the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time since 2018.

Victories in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals have stretched the Everblades' winning streak to seven games. Following a 4-3 double overtime setback to Greenville in Game Five of the South Division Semifinals, the Blades have been perfect. After closing out the Swamp Rabbits in Game Six of that series, Florida swept Jacksonville in the South Division Finals and tacked on victories in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. During the seven-game winning streak, the Everblades have outscored the opposition 21-7, while pitching four shutouts and allowing one goal or less five times. Florida also sports a three-game playoff winning streak at Hertz Arena in which the good guys hold a 12-4 scoring edge.

The Everblades are making their first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since 2019 and the 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 continues at Hertz Arena with Game Four on Friday night with the puck dropping at 7:30 pm. Should the series require a Game Five, that contest would take place Saturday, May 28 in Estero. If needed, Games Six and Seven would be contested 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 2-0

Game 1 Friday, May 20 Everblades 4, Growlers 3 (OT)

Game 2 Sunday, May 22 Everblades 2, Growlers 0

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

Home Games in Bold * Games 5, 6 and 7, if Necessary

NEWS AND NOTES

GAME THREE RECAP: Cam Johnson registered his fourth shutout of the postseason and Zach Solow scored the game-winning goal for the second consecutive contest, this time snapping a scoreless tie at 12:08 of the second period to lift the Florida Everblades to a 2-0 victory over the Newfoundland Growlers in Game Two of the ECHL Kelly Cup Eastern Conference Finals Sunday night at Mary Brown's Centre. After a scoreless opening period, Solow broke through at the 12:08 mark, redirecting a shot from the left point by Stefan Leblanc to stake the Everblades to a 1-0 lead. For the Naples native, the goal was his fifth of the playoffs, and the Blades carried the 1-0 advantage into the third period. Late in the final stanza, Ben Masella picked up an empty-net goal with 42 seconds left on the clock, his first tally of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. On the night, the Everblades stymied all five Newfoundland power-play opportunities, one game removed from the Growlers converting twice on three power plays. Additionally, the Everblades outshot the Growlers 33-25. For Everblades head coach Brad Ralph, the Game Two victory came in his 100th ECHL playoff game as a head coach. Ralph is the league's all-time leader with 57 head coaching wins.

STREAK HITS SEVEN: Victories in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals have stretched the Everblades' winning streak to seven games. Following a 4-3 double overtime setback to Greenville in Game Five of the South Division Semifinals, the Blades have been perfect. After closing out the Swamp Rabbits in Game Six of that series, Florida swept Jacksonville in the South Division Finals and tacked on victories in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. During the seven-game winning streak, the Everblades have outscored the opposition 21-7, while pitching four shutouts and allowing one goal or less five times. Florida also sports a three-game playoff winning streak at Hertz Arena in which the good guys hold a 12-4 scoring edge.

BRICK WALL AND THEN SOME: With his fourth shutout of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, Everblades' netminder Cam Johnson is now tied for second place for the most shutouts by an ECHL goaltender in one playoff season. Johnson has blanked the opposition in four of the past six games and is one clean sheet shy of matching the 23-year old record of five set by Maxime Gingras of the Richmond Renegades back in 1999. Through 10 playoff appearances this season, Johnson sports a 9-0-1 record, one win shy of the top spot for victories held by Toledo's Billy Christopoulos (10-2-2). Johnson's microscopic 1.39 GAA and stellar .944 save percentage trails only Jacksonville's Charles Williams, who logged a 1.32 GAA and a .952 save percentage over four appearances through the first two rounds of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Johnson is the only ECHL goalie to record multiple shutouts in the current postseason.

DEFENSE CONTINUES TO SHINE: Through their first 12 Kelly Cup Playoff games, the Everblades continue to sport the ECHL's stingiest postseason defense, as they have surrendered just 1.92 goals per game, outscoring their opponents 37-23 and outshooting them 413-319. The Blades held Newfoundland to just three goals in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, while shutting out the Growlers in Game Two, reversing a trend in which Newfoundland scored four or more goals in four straight games. The Growlers are currently 0-6 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.

SOLOW SIZZLES: With game-winning goals in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, Zach Solow has netted the game-winner in three of the Everblades' 10 playoff victories in 2022. Before notching the GWG in overtime of Game One and snapping a scoreless deadlock in Game Two, Solow previously registered the game-winner in Game Three of the South Division Finals over Jacksonville on May 10. The Naples native ranks second in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with three game-winning goals, one shy of the current league leaders Charle-Edouard D'Astous of Utah and John Albert of Toledo. In 18 regular-season contests with the Blades this season, Solow picked up just one GWG, doing the deed in a 5-1 victory at South Carolina on April 8. Solow is currently tied with Matteo Gennaro and Joe Pendenza for the Blades' postseason lead with five goals and 11 points, respectively. During the regular season, Solow scored three goals in 18 games with the Everblades and added three markers in 20 games with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.

SPECIAL TEAMS SPOTLIGHT: After Newfoundland scored twice in three power-play opportunities in Game One, the Everblades penalty kill shut down the Growlers on all five man-up opportunities in Game Two, the team's best effort since stymieing Greenville on all four attempts in the double-overtime Game Five of the South Division Semifinals. The 0-for-5 showing was the Blades' top penalty-killing effort in 29 games, dating back to March 5 when they stifled Greenville on all six of their power play possessions. Entering the Eastern Conference Finals, 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). Over the first two games of the series, the Everblades are 1-for-7 on the power play (14.3 percent), while the Growlers are 2-for-8 (25.0 percent). The Blades have the series' only shorthanded goal, a tally by Jake Jaremko in Game One, after tying for fifth in the regular season with 14 shorthanded markers, led by John McCarron's league-best six.

CAPTAIN EVERBLADE CONTINUES THE CLIMB: 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 416 games played in an Everblades sweater, McCarron is just two behind Matthieu Roy for second place (418) and four behind Ernie Hartlieb, who sits in the top spot with 420.

WAY OUT WEST: The Everblades and Growlers continue to keep an eye on the Western Conference Finals between the Toledo Walleye and the Utah Grizzlies. Toledo posted a 5-4 victory in Game Three Tuesday night in Utah to take a 2-1 lead in the battle for the Bruce Taylor Trophy which goes to the Western Conference Champions.

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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