ESTERO, Fla. – Following Saturday night’s performance in game five of its Eastern conference quarterfinal series, Florida Everblades head coach Greg Poss talked about his team “being tired” after two close, hard fought games against the Elmira Jackals. That lack of energy, he surmised, played a part in a blowout loss that forced a game six back in Estero Monday night. Of course, he did expect that coming home for the next game would fix whatever was ailing his troops – and boy was he right.
Adam Brace collected one goal and three assists while teammate notched Mathieu Roy notched two more goals as the Everblades dominated the Jackals by a final of 7-2 in front of an announced crowd of 2,837 at the Germain Arena. The win closed out the series with Florida winning four games to two, setting up a semifinal date with the top-seeded Reading Royals beginning Friday in Pennsylvania.
Seven different Everblades players recorded multiple point nights during the course of the game, proof that Florida’s offense is both lethal and balanced. It was also a bounce back game for goalie Jesse Deckert who after being pulled after two periods on Saturday made 19 saves to post his fourth post-season victory.
The way the game opened up, neither Deckert nor Elmira goalie Maxime Clermont had to feel very good. Just 3:16 into the first period, Florida jumped in front when Brayden Irwin, who had just returned to the Everblades from a call-up, won an offensive zone face-off that went back to defenseman Maury Edwards. Edwards fired a shot at the net that clanged off the underside of the crossbar and went in.
Moments later, a penalty to Elmira put the home team on the power play but the Jackals took advantage. Rob Bellamy and Jordon Pietrus broke out with the puck on an odd man rush. Bellamy’s shot was stopped by Deckert but Pietrus grabbed the rebound, moved the puck around Deckert and slid it home to tie the score.
Pietrus’ goal at the 4:34 mark would prove to be the closest the Jackals would get to winning for the rest of the game. Twenty-two seconds after giving up the short-handed tally, the Everblades responded when Roy, positioned at the top of the crease, scooped up the rebound of a Corey Trivino shot and shoveled it into the net to put Florida ahead to stay.
Three minutes later, Everblades forward Brandon MacLean out-hustled an Elmira defender to a loose puck and drove into the Jackals end. He made a cross-ice pass to Brace who hammered a shot past Clermont to make it 3-1. By the time David Rutherford completed a perfect give-and-go play with Mike Ratchuk by lifting a wrist shot past Clermont’s glove, Florida had nine shots in 9:22 of play and a 4-1 lead.
To their credit, the Jackals didn’t give up. Chaz Johnson scored off a feed from Louis
Caporusso 1:49 into the second period to trim the margin to 4-2. Elmira fought the Everblades to a standstill until the 10:01 mark when Brace made a perfect pass to the front of the net where MacLean redirected it between Clermont’s legs to return the lead to three. A late power play led to Roy’s second man-advantage goal of the game in the final minute of the period to boost the lead to 6-2 after two periods of play.
With the outcome of the game already decided, the final period was more an exercise in playing out the string. A.J. Jenks finished the scoring at the 7:53 mark of the stanza, taking a pass from Shawn O’Donnell and put a backhander into the back of the net.
Now the defending Kelly Cup champions move on to a series with the conference’s top dog. The two teams met twice during the regular season with the Royals taking both contests by identical scores of 4-2. The first two games will be this weekend at the Sovereign Center before the series heads south for a possible three games starting April 24th.
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