Preview: Florida Closes Three-Game Week against Swamp Rabbits
ESTERO, Fla. - The Florida Everblades (42-13-4-2, 90 pts.) wrap up their sixth straight three-game week and host the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (28-29-4-1, 61 pts.) for the sixth and final time in the regular season on Saturday night at Hertz Arena.
Game 62: Everblades vs. Greenville Swamp Rabbits
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Hertz Arena
Watch: ECHL TV
Listen: WJBX (101.5 FM, 104.3 FM, 770 AM)
Social: Twitter | Instagram
Promotion: What If Night
Last time out
Darik Angeli scored with 4:32 left in regulation to force overtime for Florida, but Dajon Mingo found the back of the net three minutes, 51 seconds into the extra session to lift the Jacksonville Icemen to a 3-2 win over the Everblades on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Arena. Facing Jacksonville for the fifth time in the last 15 days, Florida scored both a shorthanded goal and a power-play goal to extend its point streak to six games (5-0-1-0). Jacksonville's win ended an eight-game winless streak against Florida, which dated back to Dec. 11. RECAP
Series At A Glance
After the Everblades and Swamp Rabbits squared off eight times from Dec. 20 to Feb. 8, the two teams have gone nearly a month since the last meeting. Saturday is the 10th of the 11 total matchups between the division foes this year and the last of six games at Hertz Arena. Florida is 28-2-2 in the last 32 meetings with the Swamp Rabbits in Southwest Florida, a stretch that dates back to Jan. 31, 2014. The 'Blades hold an overall record of 60-33-15 (.625) against Greenville in 108 all-time matchups, including a 7-2-0-0 record this year.
Players to Watch
Michael Huntebrinker (FLA) - Huntebrinker has been lethal on the penalty kill this season and scored again on Friday against Jacksonville. The third-year pro is now tied for the league lead with five shorthanded goals this season and leads the league with eight shorthanded points. Only Orlando's Trevor Olson is within even two points of Huntebrinker's league-best total. Strangely enough, Huntebrinker had not scored a shorthanded goal in his first two seasons in the ECHL before this year.
Nathan Perkovich (GVL) - The 11th-year pro has put together his most productive pro season this year and is second on Greenville in scoring with 46 points (19g, 27a) in 56 games. Perkovich has been a pest in the head-to-head matchups against Florida and leads all Swamp Rabbits players with six goals and nine points in the season series. A native of Canton, Michigan, Perkovich has recorded multiple points in 10 games this year.
Friday night marked the fourth time this year that Florida has scored in the last five minutes of regulation to tie a game. It's been nearly three months since it last happened. Huntebrinker scored shorthanded with 3:50 left in the third period on Dec. 14 to force overtime against the Kansas City Mavericks in an eventual 5-4 overtime loss. The 'Blades also scored in the last five minutes of regulation to tie a game on Dec. 7 against South Carolina and Nov. 6 against Orlando. Florida went on to win both of those games by 3-2 scores, with the Dec. 7 win coming in overtime.
Run it, run it
Though the 'Blades fell in overtime on Friday, they still have had quite the impressive run over the last two months. Since losing three straight games from Jan. 7-11, Florida has lost just twice in regulation over its last 24 games, posting a 20-2-2 record in that stretch. As part of that run, the Everblades are 12-1-1 in their last 14 games at Hertz Arena. With South Carolina's loss on Friday, Florida is now tied with the Stingrays for first place in the South Division for the first time since Oct. 25.
The Third Degree
The Everblades have outscored their opponents 8-2 in the third period of their last five games, continuing a season-long trend of having the upper hand in the final frame of regulation. Florida now owns a +23-goal differential in the third period, a goal differential that is the best in the league in the final frame of regulation. Florida's +29-goal differential in the second period is the fourth-best in the league behind only Reading, South Carolina and Toledo.
Florida starts the regular season's final stretch of three games in three days with a Thursday night matchup in Greenville against the Swamp Rabbits. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.
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