2022 Jacksonville Icemen vs Florida Everblades

ECHL South Finals Preview: All-Florida Clash

ECHL South Finals Preview: All-Florida Clash

The Florida Everblades were tops in the regular season in the South Division, but their upcoming series with Jacksonville Icemen presents a tough test.

May 4, 2022 by Mike Ashmore
ECHL South Finals Preview: All-Florida Clash

The second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs is set to get underway on Friday night—exclusively broadcast on FloHockey—with Game 1 of the South Division Finals. The all-Florida matchup is between a motivated Everblades, a franchise that’s perpetually a preseason title favorite, against the Icemen, the only team to sweep their opening-round series. 

Jacksonville’s stunning sweep of the Atlanta Gladiators culminated with a 5-0 shutout win in Game 4 all the way back on April 28, having given them a week of rest heading into their matchup with the Everblades.

The Icemen outscored Atlanta, 15-7, through that four-game stretch, and got solid goaltending from both reigning Nick Vitucci Goaltender of the Year Award winner Francois Brassard and Charles Williams, who started the Game 2 overtime thriller and made 32 saves. Brassard has been in net for every other game, allowing just three goals while posting a .967 save percentage—best among goalies who’ve played in two or more games.

Jacksonville also went a perfect 19-for-19 on the penalty kill, and used a balanced attack in the first four games of their Kelly Cup Playoff run to get the job done. Sixteen different skaters scored at least one point—11 had at least one goal—with Brendan Harris leading the charge with team-bests in goals (3) and points (6).

Florida’s route to the second round was a bit more circuitous, with a hard-fought battle against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits finally in the rear-view mirror after a 5-1 win in Game 6 on Monday night.

The South Division champs needed overtime to win games 1 and 3 in the series, and the Swamp Rabbits won in double overtime in Game 5 to send the series to a sixth game. Team captain John McCarron was the Game 1 hero, while Alex Aleardi potted the game-winner two games later.

Parker Gahagen started the first two games in net, but struggled to an .856 save percentage and won just the Game 1 start, leaving the door open for Cam Johnson. Johnson returned from a lengthy stint in the AHL to come back and take the reins for the remainder of the series. He went 3-1 with a 1.96 goals against average and .918 save percentage, and would presumably be the starter moving forward.

Outside McCarron and Aleardi, the ’Blades have seen big performances so far in the Kelly Cup Playoffs from others in their forward group, namely Joe Pendenza, who leads the team with eight points in the first game. Matteo Gennaro has scored a team-high four goals.

But, if the regular season is any indication this might be a difficult challenge for the Everblades. Florida won just one of their six meetings with Jacksonville, although three of those games ended in a shootout, and one ended in overtime.

No. 1 Florida Everblades Vs. No. 3 Jacksonville Icemen

Game 1 – Friday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Florida
Game 2 – Saturday, May 7 at 7 p.m. ET at Florida
Game 3 – Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. ET at Jacksonville
Game 4 – Wednesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. ET at Jacksonville
Game 5 – Friday, May 13 at 7 p.m. ET at Jacksonville (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Monday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Florida (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Tuesday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Florida (If Necessary)