Florida Looks to Close Jacksonville Series with a Win
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After picking up a point in each of the last two games at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, the first-place Florida Everblades (7-3-2-3) look to wrap up a three-game road series with the Jacksonville Icemen with a win on Saturday night. First place in the ECHL South Division is on the line, as the Blades lead over Jacksonville (8-6-1-1) sits at one point, 19-18.
THE OPPONENT: The ECHL affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers and the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack, the Icemen feature a balanced offensive attack with four players in double-digit points. Craig Martin leads the squad with five goals and is tied with Ara Nazarian and Christopher Brown with a team-best 11 points. Brown, Nazarian and James Sanchez have collected a team-high seven assists.
THE SERIES: Florida sports an 36-11-10 (.719) all-time record against Jacksonville. The teams have met four times this season, with the Icemen opening the season series with a 5-1 victory on October 23. The Everblades earned one point in each of the last three contests, dropping shootouts on November 20 and 24 and suffering an overtime loss on November 26. The first two meetings were in Estero and the last two matchups were in Jacksonville.
LAST TIME OUT: After first-period goals by Joe Pendenza (10:06) and Alex Aleardi (12:55) a little less than three minutes apart, the Everblades took a 2-0 lead into the third period. Jacksonville managed to score twice, as Jacob Friend (7:20) and Craig Martin (10:36) pulled the Icemen even at 2-2 and sent the game to overtime. Ben Howerchuk collected the game-winner for the home team just 23 seconds into the extra frame as Jacksonville locked up a 3-2 win on Friday.
STILL ON TOP: Even with the Everblades and Icemen separated by just one point atop the South Division, three other teams remain in hot pursuit. Orlando (8-5-1-0) sits in third place with 17 points. Atlanta (7-4-1-0) and Norfolk (7-6-0-0) are right behind the Sunshine State trio with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
WINIECKI'S STREAK COMES TO AN END: In Friday's overtime loss, Blake Winiecki's monster 10-game point streak to open November came to an end, after a run that saw the Lakeville, Minn. collect 10 goals and six assists for 16 points. Winiecki currently ranks second in the ECHL with 11 goals, one behind league leader Toledo's TJ Hensick who has 12. He is tied for sixth in the loop with 18 points.
PENDENZA REMAINS RED HOT: With his fourth goal of the season on Saturday, Joe Pendenza extended his current scoring streak to seven games. The Wilmington, Mass. native has collected nine points over the Blades' last seven contests, as Pendenza has scored four goals and tallied five assists dating back to 4-0 win at Greenville on November 12.
ALEARDI HEATS UP: Alex Aleardi continues to heat up with a three-game point streak featuring two goals and three assists for five points. The Fort Wayne, Indiana product has turned in a pair of two-point games in his last three games played and has registered at least one point in five of the last six contests.
OH CAPTAIN, OUR CAPTAIN: Everblades captain John McCarron continues his ascent towards the top of the Everblades' career leaders list. In a Florida sweater, McCarron has 129 career regular-season goals, third-most in franchise history. The captain is just 16 goals shy of Reggie Berg's all-time mark of 145. He also ranks fourth in Blades history with 170 regular-season assists, just 37 shy of Tom Buckley's team record of 207. Including playoff games, Captain Everblade has tallied 147 goals and is three shy of Matthieu Roy who sits in second place with 150.
WRECKING IT WITH RALPH: Everblades veteran head coach Brad Ralph is zeroing in on both his 500th win as a head coach and 250th victory behind the Blades bench. The veteran leader sports a stellar 491-209-98 (.683) career mark in 12 seasons and a 240-91-38 (.702) tally in his sixth season guiding the Everblades.
WHO: Florida Everblades at Jacksonville Icemen
WHERE: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
WHEN: Saturday, November 27 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.
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