Blades clip Wings in Game 4
Everblades rolled to a 7-3 win over ...
Who: Florida Everblades vs. Kalamazoo Wings
What: Game 5, ECHL Eastern Conference finals (Florida leads 3-1)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Germain Arena
Radio: WWCN/AM 770 or www.floridaeverblades.com
Live video: www.b2livetv.com
Tickets: Available. Single-game cost $12-34 and are available at the box office or by calling 948-PUCK (7825)
ESTERO — For the second consecutive series, the Florida Everblades have a chance to a chance to eliminate their opponent at home and in the process earn some much-needed rest.
Florida leads Kalamazoo 3-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, and if the Everblades can win Saturday night at Germain Arena, they’ll clinch a spot in the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time since 2005.
But after outscoring Kalamazoo by a combined score of 14-3 the last two games, Florida is expecting a solid effort from the defending Eastern Conference champions.
“It’s going to be the hardest game of the year,” Florida forward David Rutherford said. “They’re a smart older team and they’re not going to be letting down.”
Just like when Florida went to Kalamazoo looking for a split last weekend, Rutherford said all the K-Wings are worried about is shifting the series back to Michigan for Games 6 and 7.
“That’s all they were really looking for, one out of three so they could get back to their home ice,” Rutherford said. “We know we have got to be ready and the guys aren’t satisfied with a 3-1 lead.”
Kalamazoo coach Nick Bootland concurred with Rutherford, especially with his team facing a win-or-go home situation.
“We know if we win one game in this building then we get to go back home,” Bootland said. “This is a huge test for us and we need to step up.”
In Thursday’s Game 4, Kalamazoo came out aggressive, but Florida stood strong, keeping the K-Wings off the board.
Kalamazoo had four power-play chances in the first two periods but failed to convert. The K-Wings came into the series converting nearly 40 percent of their power-play chances in the playoffs but have gone just 3-for-20 against Florida.
“Our penalty kill is playing great right now,” Florida forward Matt Marquardt said. “And that’s a big momentum swing, when you get on the power play you expect to score but our penalty kill has really done its job.”
Florida has also managed to get to Kalamazoo goalie Riley Gill, who looked like he might be able to carry the K-Wings past the Everblades with the way he played in the4 first two games of the series.
Florida coach Greg Poss said that Gill is still the same threat and that his team can’t rest on its back-to-back seven-goal outbursts.
“I don’t think the score (7-3 on Thursday) was indicative of how close the game actually was,” Poss said. “Gill is a very good goalie and we’ve seen what he can do when he’s playing well.”
With Las Vegas having already clinched a spot in the finals and waiting at home for either Florida or Kalamazoo, there’s no doubt the Everblades want to wrap things up as soon as possible.
“We have the opportunity to do it a home,” Poss said. “They’re going to come real hard, they’re a veteran team and it’s going to be a real tough game.”