Everblades Take Two of Three in Orlando, Four-Game Week Ahead
Penalty Kill Fuels Thursday Comeback: Orlando jumped ahead in the second period with a goal from Kevin Lohan that softly slid across the goal line after confusion in front of Florida goaltender Jake Hildebrand. The Bears struck again just 32 seconds into the second period when Tristin Langan scored to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
The Everblades began the comeback on the penalty kill with a pair of shorthanded goals. Matt Petgrave netted his first tally of the season when he buried a Michael Huntebrinker rebound in the second period with Florida on the kill. Six minutes later, Colby Sissons followed with his own shorthanded goal to tie the game at 2-2. With five minutes left in the middle frame, Stefan Leblanc picked the top right corner of the net with a slap shot from the point to give the Blades a permanent 3-2 lead. Hildebrand finished the game with 29 saves on 31 shots to earn his 16th win of the season.
Papirny Shines in Friday Debut: Opposite from Thursday, it was the Everblades that took control of the game first. Two and half minutes into the second period, Marcus Vela opened the scoring for the Blades when he tipped in a point shot from Leblanc to give Florida a 1-0 lead. Hugo Roy followed a few minutes later with his sixth tally of the season to put the Everblades on top 2-0.
Orlando got one back in the second period off a quick one-timer from JJ Piccinich in the low slot. In response, Huntebrinker scored his league-best 23rd goal of the season on a breakaway to give the Everblades a 3-1 advantage. Tyler Bird scored in the third period for Orlando to make it 3-2, but Florida held on cementing rookie goaltender Jordan Papirny's first professional win. Papirny finished with 38 saves on 40 shots in his pro debut.
Orlando Pulls Ahead on Saturday: Florida waited until the second period to start the scoring. Sissons put the Blades up 1-0 with a power-play goal that came just over a minute into the middle frame. Orlando responded when Fabrizio Ricci tapped in a rebound behind Hildebrand to tie the game. 14 minutes into the middle frame, the Solar Bears took a 2-1 lead when Aaron Luchuk scored on the power play. Levko Koper knotted things up at 2-2 when he scored on a wrist shot late in the second period. Orlando pulled ahead in the third period with a goal from Chris LeBlanc, and the Blades were never able to catch up. Langan hit the empty net for the Bears to seal a 4-2 victory for Orlando.
After two wins last week, the Florida Everblades (31-11-0-2) continue to hold first place in the Eastern Conference with a .727 points percentage. That mark also leads the entire ECHL.
Looking Ahead: The Everblades return home to Hertz Arena on Wednesday, Apr. 7 for a matchup with the Jacksonville Icemen at 7:30 p.m.
Florida will hit the road this weekend for a trio of games against Jacksonville at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. The Blades and Icemen will first dance on Friday, Apr. 9 at 7:00 p.m. The second meeting of the weekend will take place on Saturday, Apr. 10 at 7:00 p.m. Florida and Jacksonville will meet for the third game of the weekend on Sunday, Apr. 11 at 3:00 p.m.
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