Preview: 'Blades Gun for Series Sweep of Gladiators
Florida Everblades forward Patrick Bajkov vs. the Atlanta Gladiators
(Florida Everblades, Credit: Kevin Bires Photography)
ESTERO, Fla. - With a berth in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs now clinched, the Florida Everblades (41-15-5-0, 87 pts.) set their sights on a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Gladiators (24-25-7-1, 56 pts.) on Saturday night at Hertz Arena.
Game 62: Everblades vs. Atlanta
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Hertz Arena
Listen: WJBX - News, Talk & More
Social: Twitter | #ATLvsFLA
Last Time Out
Florida received a two-goal game from Blake Winiecki and Jeremy Helvig turned in a stellar performance with a 36-save effort to lead the 'Blades to a 3-1 win over the Gladiators on Friday at Hertz Arena. In the playoff-clinching victory, Florida struck twice on six power-play opportunities and yielded just one power-play goal on six penalty kills to the league's fourth-best power play. Matt Finn (1g-1a) had the game-winning goal for the second straight game.
BOX SCORE | RECAP
Players to Watch
Blake Winiecki (FLA) - The rookie forward has been a one-man wrecking crew against the Gladiators this season and posted his third multi-goal game of the year in Friday's win. A native of Lakeville, Minnesota, Winiecki has registered seven of his 18 total goals against Atlanta and leads all 'Blades players with 13 points (7g-6a) against the Gladiators. Winiecki is second among active 'Blades players with 45 points (18g-27a).
Sean Bonar (ATL) - The fifth-year pro has started in goal in five straight games for the Gladiators and has made starts in seven of the last eight games for Atlanta. Bonar ranks sixth in the ECHL with a .920 save percentage, while his goals-against average of 2.39 is good for eighth in the league. He allowed less than three goals in five straight appearances from Feb. 22-March 1 but has yielded three or more goals in three straight starts.
Saturday marks the sixth and final regular-season meeting in Estero between the two teams and the 10th of Florida's 11 total matchups with Atlanta. Florida has dominated the series in the three-year tenure of head coach Brad Ralph and has racked up a 28-3-0-1 mark against the Gladiators over that three-season span. The 'Blades are 98-53-15 overall against Atlanta in the all-time series.
Power Play Proficiency
Following a stretch where they converted once on 24 power-play opportunities over five home games from Jan. 25-Feb. 9, the 'Blades have scored multiple power-play goals in five of their last five home games. Florida has gone 10-for-28 on the power play in that stretch, a conversion rate of 35.7 percent. In that stretch of six games, Florida's home power-play ranking has jumped from tied at 23rd (13.5 percent) in the ECHL to 10th (18.5 percent).
Florida became the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a playoff spot with its win on Friday. Though it ended up beating Atlanta, Florida had actually clinched its spot thanks to South Carolina's loss earlier in the night. Coupled with Orlando's loss in Newfoundland on Friday, Florida whittled its magic number for the South Division title down to 12 points with its win Friday. The Everblades clinched a playoff berth exactly one week earlier last season, earning a playoff spot on Feb. 28, 2018.
Booth is Back
Goaltender Callum Booth was assigned to the Everblades from the American Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers on Friday and will make his season debut with Florida on Saturday night. In his rookie season with Florida a season ago, Booth notched a 19-6-3 record with a .911 save percentage and a 2.41 goals-against average. He has posted a 9-6-1 record, a 2.51 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 16 games this season in the ECHL with the Reading Royals.
Florida plays four games in five days next week to finish up its road schedule for the regular season. The 'Blades start the week with a Wednesday night matchup in Orlando against the Solar Bears.
Ticket packages for the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club and 2019-20 Season Tickets and Flexible Packages are on sale now!
Join the FUN and 'Blades FAMILY by SAVING with Season Tickets or a Flexible Package that fit into your schedule and budget, plus receive FREE gifts and benefits!
SPECIAL OFFER! Purchase a new Season Ticket or Flexible Package for the 2019-20 season and receive a $20 gift card to Ford's Garage and an Everblades tote bag!
Private tours of Hertz Arena are available to select your season seats! Call the Florida Everblades Front Office at 239-948-7825 to schedule your tour today!
Images from this story
Florida Everblades forward Patrick Bajkov vs. the Atlanta Gladiators
(Kevin Bires Photography)
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