Preview: Sweep on the Line as 'Blades Host Admirals on Saturday
ESTERO, Fla. - The Florida Everblades (47-16-5-1, 100 pts.) aim for a sweep of the Norfolk Admirals (26-34-5-3, 60 pts.) when the two teams wrap up a three-game set and the regular-season series at Hertz Arena on Saturday night.
Game 70: Everblades vs. Norfolk
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Hertz Arena
Listen: WJBX - News, Talk & More
Social: Twitter | #NORvsFLA
Last Time Out
Five different players registered a goal and Jeremy Helvig made 29 saves to help the 'Blades clinch the Eastern Conference regular season title with a 5-2 win over the Admirals on Friday night at Hertz Arena. Sam Warning started the scoring with his first goal of the year in his third game back after missing 66 contests due to injury, while Alex Tonge and Josh Lammon had their first career goals. Grant Arnold posted two assists for his second straight multi-assist game.
BOX SCORE | RECAP
Players to Watch
Grant Arnold (FLA) - The second-year pro has four points (4a) through the first two games of the three-game set with Norfolk. After missing all of last year due to injury and 50 games this season due to another injury, Arnold has found his stride lately. He had his second goal of the season last Saturday to start his mini three-game point streak (1g-4a). The Centennial, Colorado, native registered 25 points (9g-16a) in his only other ECHL season in 2016-17 with the Quad City Mallards.
Christian Horn (NOR) - A third-year pro, Horn is riding a four-game point streak (2g-2a) entering Saturday's series finale and has posted a goal in each of the first two games of the three-game set. The Plymouth, Minnesota, native has split this season between South Carolina and Norfolk and has tabbed 24 points (9g-15a) in 52 total games. Horn played two seasons with Tommy Thompson and Ben Masella of the Everblades at St. Lawrence University from 2014-16.
Saturday marks the eighth and final matchup between Florida and Norfolk this season. Florida holds a 15-2-3 all-time record against the Admirals, which includes a 5-1-1 mark this season. The eight matchups this year between the two teams are the most in one season since Norfolk started in the ECHL in the 2014-15 season. After being shut out in the first meeting with Norfolk this year, Florida has racked up 31 goals over the last six meetings, an average of 5.17 goals per game.
Picking Up Steam
Florida has scored five goals in consecutive games, which is the first time since the end of February it has done that. The 'Blades tabbed four or more goals in back to back tilts against the South Carolina Stingrays on Feb. 22-23 to earn two straight 5-3 wins. It's been more than two and a half months since Florida scored more than four goals in three consecutive games. The 'Blades posted 29 tallies in a four-game stretch from Jan. 5-12, which was their highest goal output in a four-game span this year.
Home Ice Advantage
The Everblades have been a tough team to beat at home in the three-year tenure of head coach Brad Ralph. Florida has racked up 76 home wins since the start of the 2016-17 campaign, a win total that is tied for the ECHL-lead in that time frame. The 'Blades currently sit second in the league with 24 home wins this season. Florida's highest home win total under Ralph was 27 victories last year, and it can match that total by winning out at Hertz Arena.
Promising Penalty Kill
Since yielding power-play goals in three straight games from Feb. 27-March 2, including a season-high three power-play goals on March 1 against Orlando, Florida's penalty kill has ratcheted up the pressure on opposing power plays. The 'Blades have allowed just four power-play strikes over their last 11 games and have converted on 91.3 percent (42-of-46) of their penalty kills in that 11-game span. In terms of league rankings, Florida is eighth overall on the penalty kill at 84.0 percent, while it is sixth in home penalty kill rate at 85.8 percent.
Florida starts the final week of the regular season with a Friday night battle against the Orlando Solar Bears. Faceoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Hertz Arena.
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