2023 Idaho Steelheads vs Florida Everblades

Florida Everblades One Win Away From Another Kelly Cup After Game 3 Victory

Florida Everblades One Win Away From Another Kelly Cup After Game 3 Victory

The Florida Everblades are on the brink of winning back-to-back Kelly Cup titles as they earned a 1-0 win over the Idaho Steelheads in Game 3.

Jun 8, 2023 by Chris Peters
Florida Everblades One Win Away From Another Kelly Cup After Game 3 Victory

The Florida Everblades are one win away from securing their second consecutive Kelly Cup after earning a 1-0 victory in Game 3 over the Idaho Steelheads. With a commanding 3-0 lead in the series, the Blades will have two chances to clinch the title on home ice, either in Game 4 Friday or Game 5 Saturday, if necessary.

In a hard-fought game between the two clubs Wednesday night, Florida controlled play for long stretches with stingy defense and pushing the pace offensively. 

The game’s only goal came off the stick of ECHL rookie Will Calverley late in the second period. Calverley whipped a quick shot off of a Blake Winiecki feed off the rush that sailed past the glove of Steelheads goalie Remi Poirier, who was otherwise brilliant in the contest.

Amazingly, Game 3 was the postseason debut for Poirier after he had spent much of the rest of the playoffs with the Texas Stars in their bid for the Calder Cup in the American Hockey League. He was primarily in a backup role and appeared in just one game with Texas, who sent him back to Idaho when they were eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs. His only work in the last two months was a little more than 37 minutes as a mid-game replacement back on May 21 with Texas.

Despite Adam Scheel carrying the mail in net for Idaho throughout these playoffs, coach Everett Sheen made the bold decision to try to turn the tide of the series and Poirier very nearly rewarded him for that decision. The Steelheads just couldn’t score.

At the other end of the ice stood Cam Johnson, who turned aside all 23 shots he faced including a point-blank chance in the final minute of regulation. Johnson picked up his eighth career shutout in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, which is tied with Riley Gill for the most in league history.

Johnson, who appeared in 18 postseason games for the Everblades last year in leading them to the Kelly Cup, improved to 15-6 with a .922 save percentage in the 2023 playoffs. He also now has four shutouts for a second straight postseason, which ranks second all-time for an ECHL goalie in a single playoff year.

Johnson has held the Steelheads, which was one of the league' best scoring teams this year, to just five goals over the three games of the Kelly Cup Finals.

The Everblades, who are the ECHL affiliate of current Stanley Cup Finalist Florida Panthers, are now on the verge of achieving back-to-back titles for the first time in franchise history.

They’ll have their first chance to make it happen Friday night as they go for the sweep after winning last year's title in five games over the Toledo Walleye.

Should the Everblades win it all, it will be their third Kelly Cup in franchise history and they would become just third team to hoist the Patrick J. Kelly Cup in two consecutive seasons, joining the Colorado Eagles in 2017 and 2018, and the Allen Americans, who did it in 2015 and 2016.

Four teams total have won consecutive ECHL titles in the league’s history as the Riley Cup predates the Kelly Cup. The Toledo Storm in 1993 and 1994, as well as the Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991 and 1992 each claimed consecutive Kelly Cups.