Winiecki's Hat Trick and Pendenza's Game-Winner Tames Lions

March 17, 2023 - ECHL (ECHL) - Florida Everblades News Release

TROIS-RIVIÉRES, Québec - A hat trick by Blake Winiecki, four assists from Ben Masella and a late goal by Joe Pendenza that snapped a 5-5 tie lifted the Florida Everblades to an exciting 7-5 victory over the Trois-Rivières Lions Friday night at a festive Colisée Vidéotron.

From the outset, the Blades and Lions made it clear that offense would be the name of the game on a Friday night north of the border. Winiecki tipped in a blast from Masella to give the Everblades a 1-0 lead at the 5:20 mark, but Florida's lead was short lived, as Cedric Montminy brought the Lions even at 1-1 just 85 seconds later.

Following the Lions' even-strength tally, the teams went just over eight minutes without a goal, but the Trois-Rivières special teams capitalized in the late stages of the opening stanza. William Lemay scored on the power play at 14:56, while James Phelan came through with a shorthanded tally at 17:03 to give the host Lions three consecutive goals and a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.

The Everblades liked the notion of outscoring the opposition 3-1 over the course of 20 minutes and returned the favor in the middle frame, outscoring the Lions 3-1 to make it a 4-4 contest by the second intermission. Consecutive goals by Winiecki just 16 seconds into period, Logan Lambdin in his Everblades debut at 3:55, and Andrew Fyten with a power-play marker at 6:51 put the Blades ahead 4-3 before Trois-Rivières' Brendan Soucie knotted the game at 4-4 with the Lions' second equalizer of the contest, with just under two minutes to play in the middle period.

Facing a decisive third period, Winiecki came through once again, claiming the hat trick and giving the Everblades a 5-4 lead just 38 seconds into the final frame. The three-goal effort was the fourth by an Everblade this season and Winiecki's first hat trick in exactly 300 ECHL games. Not to be done, the Lions' responded as Ryan Francis picked up Trois-Rivières' third equalizer of the night at 8:15, tying the game at 5-5, but was upstaged by Pendenza's game winner at the 14:42 mark, his 21st goal of the season, the team high. Sean Josling added an empty-net goal in his Everblades debut to close out the scoring at 7-5

The Everblades outshot the Lions 46-31 and Cam Johnson (22-12-4-3) made 26 saves to pick up the victory.

Masella had four assists, Xavier Cormier registered two helpers and Lambdin added one for a two-point night to lead the Everblades' playmakers, as seven different Blades picked up helpers in the contest. John McCarron, who moved into second place all-time with 359 regular-season games played as an Everblade, picked up his 206th regular-season assist to climb within one of the franchise regular-season record. McCarron's 247 overall assists, regular season plus playoffs, is one of numerous club career records that he holds.

The Everblades and Lions will meet in the series finale Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. before the Blades return to Hertz Arena to open a three-game set against the ECHL's other Canadian team, the Newfoundland Growlers on Wednesday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

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