Jacksonville Sports Day

ECHL: Jacksonville Icemen Drop 3-2 OT Decision to Florida

FILE PHOTO By NANCY BEECHER

ESTERO, Fla. – Michael Downing’s goal at 6:59 of overtime lifted the Florida Everblades to a 3-2 victory over the Jacksonville Icemen in Game 1 of the South Division Semifinals at Hertz Arena Thursday night.

The Everblades take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Icemen struck first at 11:43 of the first period. Kris Newbury raced to the puck to set up a 2-on-1rush. Newbury steered a pass across the slot to Jake Randolph who hammered a shot on goal. Florida netminder Jeremy Helvig made the save, but the rebound was poked into the net at the crease by Alexis D’Aoust for the goal.

Moments later, Jacksonville extended it’s lead to 2-0 on a power play goal. Maxime Fortier threw a shoton goal that was stopped by Helvig, but the puck skipped up and over the Florida goaltender and landedin the crease behind him. The Icemen’s Christophe Lalancette poked the puck into the net for tally.

Less than a minute later, Florida pulled within one on a power goal of their own. A Matt Finn shot form the point wandered to the pads of Icemen goaltender Ken Appleby who made the initial save. However, Justin Auger crashed the net and stabbed at the puck with this stick to guide it into the net for the goal.

Auger’s power play marker put the score at 2-1 after one.

Neither team scored in the second period, as the Icemen continued to scratch and claw to hold off the Florida attack.

The Everblades netted the equalizer at 13:09 of the third period on a goal by Matt Finn. Ben Masella hammered a slapshot form the blue line, but Appleby got a piece of with the pad. However, the rebound bounced directly to a wide-open Finn above the crease and he easily shoved the puck in for the tying goal to eventually force overtime.

The Blades nearly won the game early in the extra session when Sam Warning and Nathan Perkovich broke out with a two-on-one rush a little over two minutes into the extra frame. Warning threaded the puck to Perkovich, who was wide open at the back post, but he couldn’t get a piece of the puck as it bounced over his stick.

In the extra session, the Icemen were called for a high sticking penalty that put Florida on the power play.

Michael Downing wristed a shot from the point that beat a screened Appleby to secure a 3-2 Everblades overtime win in Game 1.

The two teams will meet again for Game 2 on Saturday in Estero. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

GAME NOTES: Florida’s victory marked the fifth time this season it has overcome a deficit after two periods. Four of those victories have occurred against Jacksonville.

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