Preview: 'Blades Host IceMen, Seek Two-Game Lead in Series
ESTERO, Fla. -The Florida Everblades aim to take a two-game series lead in the South Division Semifinals when they host the Jacksonville Icemen for Game 2 of the best-of-seven set on Saturday night at Hertz Arena.
DSF Game 2: Everblades vs. Jacksonville
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Hertz Arena
Listen: WJBX - News, Talk & More
Social: Twitter | #JAXvsFLA
Last Time Out
Michael Downing scored 6:59 into overtime to lift the Everblades to a 3-2 victory over Jacksonville in Game 1 of the series on Thursday. After Jacksonville scored twice less than three minutes apart in the opening period, Florida goaltender Jeremy Helvig didn't yield another goal in the final 55:16 of game time and made 21 stops total. Matt Finn (1g-2a) factored into all three 'Blades goals, and Justin Auger had the first tally for Florida.
Players to Watch
Matt Finn (FLA) - The fourth-year pro keyed Florida's comeback win on Thursday and scored the game-tying goal in the last seven minutes of the third period. Finn's three-point night was the third time this year he has registered three points in one game. The Toronto, Ontario, native set a new career-high with his 14 goals in the regular season this year, while his point total of 27 was the second-highest mark of his pro career.
Ken Appleby (JAX) - The Jacksonville netminder made his third start of the season against Florida on Thursday and is expected to go in goal for the Icemen again on Saturday night. Despite logging just a 1-2-0 record against Florida this year, Appleby has allowed just seven goals against the 'Blades in those three games. Appleby, who played three games with the New Jersey Devils last season, has stopped 128 of the 135 shots fired his way by Florida, a save percentage of 94.8%.
Including Game 1 on Thursday, Florida and Jacksonville have squared off 28 times over the last two seasons. The Everblades hold a 23-3-2 all-time record against the Icemen and posted a 9-3-1 mark against Jacksonville in the regular season this year. The home team had the upper hand in the regular season series, with Florida going 6-0-0 at Hertz Arena and Jacksonville compiling a 4-3-0 mark at Veterans Memorial Arena.
This year's series with Jacksonville has involved a host of close games. Of the 14 total matchups, only four have been decided by more than two goals. Despite all those tight battles, Thursday was just the second time the two teams required overtime to decide a game. Jacksonville won the other overtime affair, a 4-3 triumph in the second meeting on Nov. 3. Florida has the edge in goal-scoring margin in the season series, recording 16 goals more than Jacksonville in the 14 total meetings (46gf-30ga).
Though Jacksonville is winless at Hertz Arena this season, it has held the lead in the third period in four of the seven meetings in Florida's home barn. However, Florida has come back to win all four times. Outside of the four wins, Florida has won just once in 16 other opportunities when trailing after the second period this season.
After going winless in their first five overtime games of the season, the Everblades have found their stride when it comes to playing in the extra session. With Thursday's OT win, Florida has victories in eight of its last nine contests that have gone to overtime or a shootout. The only setback in that stretch was a 4-3 shootout loss to Orlando on March 23.
Following Saturday's game, the series transitions to Jacksonville for Game 3, which is Thursday at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Arena.
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