Mack Attack: McCarron Helps Lead 'Blades to 2-0 Series Lead
ESTERO, Fla. - The forward line of John McCarron (1g-1a), Blake Winiecki (1g-2a) and Justin Auger (2a) combined for seven points to lead the Florida Everblades to a 4-1 win over the Jacksonville Icemen on Saturday night at Hertz Arena, giving Florida a 2-0 lead in the South Division Semifinal series.
On the heels of a thrilling 3-2 overtime win on Thursday, Florida came out of the gates strong on Saturday, scoring twice in the first seven minutes of the opening period to seize control of the game from the Icemen. The Everblades' first period was arguably their best of the night. Florida outshot Jacksonville by 11 in the opening frame and won 71% of the faceoffs en route to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
McCarron, the Everblades' captain, put the 'Blades on the board only 4:37 into the first frame. Skating in behind Jacksonville goaltender Ken Appleby, Winiecki put the puck on net on a wraparound. Appleby, unable to control the shot, let the puck slide out into the crease to McCarron at the backdoor. McCarron swiped at the loose puck on his backhand and sent it over the pad and under the blocker of Appleby for the goal.
Florida added a second goal on the power play only one minute, 47 seconds after its first goal to take control of the game. Following an offensive zone faceoff win, Winiecki got the puck back to the 'Blades defense. Michael Downing sent the puck across the blue line to Matt Finn for a blast. Appleby made the initial save, but the puck was loose in the slot for a few moments before Winiecki shoveled a backhanded pass to Kyle Platzer all alone in the circle for a shot into the wide-open cage.
Cameron Critchlow brought the Icemen within one at 10:09 of the second period. On a Jacksonville rush, Maxime Fortier chipped a pass to the right side to Critchlow, who snuck behind the 'Blades defense and tucked the puck between the far side pad of Florida goaltender Jeremy Helvig and the post.
But the 'Blades struck for the final two goals of the night, including an insurance goal aided by the efforts of McCarron. Fresh off a pivotal penalty kill, Florida skated ahead on a four-on-one zone rush. McCarron raced into the zone and quickly flipped a pass over the stick of the lone Icemen defender to Logan Roe in the right circle. Roe promptly snapped a shot over Appleby's blocker for the goal to give the 'Blades a 3-1 lead with 7:01 to play.
Winiecki and the 'Blades shut down Jacksonville from there, and Winiecki potted an empty-net goal with 22 seconds left to close out the victory.
Helvig earned his fifth straight win dating back to the regular season with an 18-save effort.
The series with the Icemen now transitions to Jacksonville for the next three games. Game 3 is slated for 7 p.m. on Thursday.
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