Preview: Game 5 vs South Carolina
ESTERO, Fla. - The Florida Everblades (2-2) meet the South Carolina Stingrays (2-2) tonight in a decisive Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The winner of tonight's game will take the best-of-five series as well and will face the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in the Conference Finals. The Everblades were one of the best teams at home during the regular season with 55 points and a 25-6-3-2 record.
Game 4 Recap: South Carolina took control with three goals in the first period of Game 4. Andrew Cherniwchan found the back of the net twice while Mark Cooper tallied his first goal of the series as well in the opening frame. Alex Kile put Florida on the board in the middle of the second period after Zach Berzolla maneuvered through the offensive zone. Cooper answered Kile's goal in the second with his second of the night for South Carolina. Joe Pendenza scored the second goal for Florida with a sharp backhander, but the Blades could not get any closer and fell 4-2.
Scouting the Stingrays: Andrew Cherniwchan and Mark Cooper both notched a pair of goals in Sunday's 4-2 win for South Carolina. Matthew Weis leads the Rays with four playoff points (2g-2a), much in part to his two goals back in Game 1. Eight different Stingrays have combined for 12 total goals in the series so far. After allowing five goals in Game 3 against Florida, goaltender Hunter Shepard made 29 stops on 31 Everblades shots in Game 4 to record his second victory of the series.
Hildebrand Named Goaltender of the Year: On Thursday afternoon, Florida netminder Jake Hildebrand was named the ECHL Goaltender of the Year. Hildebrand posted one of his best seasons of his career thanks to a 23-10-1-3 record. Hildebrand is the second goaltender to win this award in the 23-year history of the Everblades. Chris Madden won the award in the 2004-05 season. His rights were traded to Florida at the trade deadline but Madden was loaned to the Providence Bruins where he finished the season. Florida's goaltending coach Josh Robinson won this honor in the 2014-15 season with the Missouri Mavericks.
Hats Off for Koper: Levko Koper scored two goals three minutes apart in the second period, and then scored again in the third to record a hat trick in Saturday's 5-1 win over South Carolina in Game 3. The last Everblades player to record a playoff hat trick was none other than Koper himself four years ago. On Apr. 29, 2017, Koper recorded a hat trick in a 5-2 win over South Carolina in the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Florida would go on to lose the series four games to one.
WHO: Florida Everblades vs South Carolina Stingrays - Game 5
WHERE: Hertz Arena - Estero, Fla.
WHEN: Monday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m.
BROADCAST: Watch every Florida Everblades game on FloHockey.TV. Listen to the exciting game action on ESPN Southwest Florida on 770 AM, 101.5 FM, 104.3 FM and online at https://espnswfl.com.
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