2022 Florida Everblades vs Toledo Walleye

McCarron, Everblades Seeking Redemption In Kelly Cup Finals

McCarron, Everblades Seeking Redemption In Kelly Cup Finals

Longtime Florida Everblades captain John McCarron is hoping his team can take advantage of another opportunity to hoist the ECHL's top prize, the Kelly Cup.

Jun 2, 2022 by Mike Ashmore
McCarron, Everblades Seeking Redemption In Kelly Cup Finals

John McCarron was tired of getting so close and having nothing to show for it.

Looking back at a preseason conversation with FloHockey, the longtime Florida Everblades captain was hopeful his team would get another chance to hoist the Kelly Cup after coming up short the past few years.

"It's getting annoying having to keep having these conversations about being that first seed going in and not getting the job done, but I can look at myself in the mirror, and being a leader, I need to do a better job," McCarron said. 

"I've been all the way to Game 6 and Game 7 in the Finals and ended up falling short. I know what it takes, and I need to relay that message. From our coaching staff on down, we need to learn from these opportunities and the mistakes we're making moving forward."

So far, so good.

The 30-year-old has helped lead his team back to the Kelly Cup Finals, where they're set to play the Brabham Cup-winning Toledo Walleye in Game 1 on Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET, with the entire series set to be broadcast exclusively on FloHockey.  

A former standout at Cornell, McCarron has led the charge thus far in the postseason, pacing the team with 14 points in 13 playoff games, leading a core group that's back together for what could be one last chance to win the ECHL's biggest prize.

With 89 career appearances in Kelly Cup Playoffs games - including 25 in a run to the Finals in his first year in the league with the Wheeling Nailers (2015-2016) - the Michigan native is one of the league's most experienced postseason performers and also one of its best, accumulating 83 points during that span.  

What he's really after, however, is a ring, something that has eluded him, despite his heroics. A perennial league powerhouse, Florida hasn't had the hardware to show for it in a decade, despite consistently assembling one of the circuit's most talented teams.

In his first year with the Everblades, the 2016-2017 season, he helped Florida to a South Division title and got them out of the first round for the first time in two years, before ultimately falling to the South Carolina Stingrays in five games in the division finals.

The next year? Another division title and a dream playoff run - the 'Blades went 12-2 in the first three rounds - only to fall short in Game 7 of the Kelly Cup Finals to the Colorado Eagles. 

It was more of the same in 2019, with Florida losing to eventual champion Newfoundland in the Eastern Conference Finals. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the remainder of the season, playoffs included, in 2020, and the team then suffered a stunning first-round exit just last year.

"I've been beating a dead horse here the last few seasons," McCarron said in October. 

"I thought we've had really good teams, but our postseason efforts have fallen short."

This year might be their last chance to change that.

Florida defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in six games in the South Division Semifinals and has largely cruised since then. They swept the Jacksonville Icemen in the South Division Finals, and needed just five games to get past the Newfoundland Growlers in the Eastern Conference Finals.  

So, when the Kelly Cup Finals begin Friday, FloHockey will be must-watch to see if McCarron and the rest of the Everblades can take the first step in bringing the trophy back to Estero for the first time since 2012.