Everblades Playoff Schedule
#4 Florida Everblades vs. #5 Elmira Jackals (Floirda leads 2-1)
Game 1 – Friday, April 5: Elmira - 1 at Florida – 5
Game 2 – Saturday, April 6: Elmira - 8 at Florida – 2
Game 3 – Wednesday, April 10: Florida - 2 at Elmira – 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Friday, April 12 at 7:05 p.m. ET at Elmira
Game 5 – Saturday, April 13 at 7:05 p.m. ET at Elmira
Game 6 – Monday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Florida (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Florida (If Necessary)
ELMIRA, N.Y. — The Florida Everblades needed almost all of regulation Wednesday night to find a way to put a puck past Elmira goalie Ian Keserich.
The Everblades needed only 11 seconds of overtime to do it again.
A.J. Jenks played a large role in forcing the tie then produced the winning goal to lift the Everblades past the Jackals, 2-1, and into the lead in their first-round Kelly Cup playoff series.
Keserich saved the first 40 shots he faced, but could not handle either of the last two.
“I was just trying to get it to his feet and create a rebound,” said Jenks, who spun and fired a low wrist shot from the far side of the right circle. “There’s always a chance if you get it on net, especially in overtime when everyone’s fatigued.”
The defending champion Everblades were on the verge of falling behind with two more road games ahead. Instead, they took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven ECHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Games Four and Five are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 7:05 at First Arena.
“I really liked the way we came out,” Elmira coach Dwight Mullins said. “I thought we had some great opportunities.
“But, if you give that team enough power plays, they’re going to hurt you.”
The Everblades were scoreless as the final minute approached.
Maury Edwards helped change that with a length-of-the-ice rush that drew a penalty and set up a power-play unit that has been sharp throughout the series.
“They were sitting back,” Edwards said. “When I looked up, they all backed off.”
With goalie Jesse Deckert also out for an extra attacker to create a 6-on-4 situation, Florida needed just 10 seconds to produce its fifth power-play goal in three playoff games.
The tie came with 1:06 remaining after Jenks won an offensive zone faceoff in the right circle. Jenks went to the net where he was in position to help screen Keserich and may have also gotten a piece of Mike Ratchuk’s shot from the right point.
“I was in his face,” Jenks said.
Mathieu Roy and Jenks assisted on the goal with Jordan Pietrus in the penalty box for hooking.
“That’s why we pulled the goalie,” Everblades coach Greg Poss said. “The main reason why was to get a faceoff guy out there with a power-play unit.”
Poss said Jenks, who split time with the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers this season, had shown the best form on faceoffs throughout the game.
Jenks also took the faceoff to open overtime and Mike Cornell dumped the puck into the Elmira zone.
Goalie Jesse Deckert kept the Everblades even against steady Jackals pressure in a scoreless first period.
“Both goaltenders played great,” Poss said.
Deckert made 16 of his 28 saves in the first period, including four in the first 1:20 and two tough ones in the final 55 seconds.
In between, he stopped Matt Carter and Jean Bourbeau from point-blank range 33 seconds apart.
The Everblades, however, had the best chance of the period.
Brandon MacLean blocked a shot from Elmira’s right point, recovered the puck and went in on a breakaway only to be turned away by Keserich with 11:36 left.
The Jackals made up for the missed chances by striking quickly in the second period.
Louie Caporusso sent a puck from the left circle through traffic to Chaz Johnson all alone at the right post. Johnson had more than half the net to hit with a simple redirection for his third goal of the series just 49 seconds into the period.
From there, the Everblades took over. They controlled play throughout most of the second period, including firing off five shots on their first power-play chance, but were unable to score.
“I really felt like the penalties at the midway point of the game started to tilt things a little bit,” Mullins said.
After the Jackals goal, the Everblades had a 34-12 shot advantage the rest of the way.
EVERBLADES 2, JACKALS 1
Florida 0 0 1 1 — 2
Elmira 0 1 0 0 — 1
First Period: None. Penalties-Blood Elm (fighting) 0:10; O’Donnell Fla (fighting) 0:10; MacLean Fla (hooking) 4:05.
Second Period: 1, Elmira, Johnson 3 (Caporusso) 0:49. Penalties-Harvey Elm (interference) 8:12; Merrifield Fla (hooking) 11:06; Bellamy Elm (roughing) 15:59; Johnson Elm (interference) 18:40.
Third Period: 2, Florida, Ratchuk 1 (Roy, Jenks) 18:54 (PP). Penalties-Pietrus Elm (hooking) 18:44.
Overtime: 3, Florida, Jenks 2 (Cornell) 0:11.
Shots on Goal: Florida 8-14-19-1-42. Elmira 16-6-7-0-29.
Power Play Opportunities: Florida 1 of 4; Elmira 0 of 2.
Goalies: Florida, Decker 2-1-0-0 (29 shots-28 saves). Elmira, Keserich 1-1-0-0 (42 shots-40 saves).
Referees: Brett Sheva (15); Linesmen: Ray King (39), Ryan Daisy (64).