Monday, January 09, 2017


Blades Continue Winning Ways-2017

One of Three!

Last Wednesday, the Florida Everblades played the first of three home games against the Manchester Monarchs. They trailed the Monarchs by two points in the Eastern Conference, with both teams sitting on the top of their respective divisions. After Saturday night's game, the Blades earned their spot at the top of the standings, winning all three games . This coming week, they also play three games against rival South Carolina Stingrays. It was only the second Manchester visit to Florida in the last five years.

Travel costs are a serious consideration in the ECHL with 27 teams from all points in North America, including Brampton, Ontario, and Alaska! Consequently, teams often play three games during their week in South West Florida. They also look forward to a little fun in the sun. No big deal is made of the few days that they can enjoy a few rays. Otherwise, they might take the abuse heaped on the New York Giants for their little junket last week. For some reason, they just weren't ready to beat the Packers on the frozen tundra in Green Bay last Sunday.

                                                         Coach Brad Ralph

I asked coach Brad Ralph about his team's success thus far this year. This is his first season behind the Blades' bench, succeeding Greg Poss. He held up two fingers after I asked the question. “Heart and chemistry”, he told me. The Blades have played 33 games this season, losing 7 times in regulation. They began the season with 13 games without a regular season loss. Coach Ralph added: “Our team is very determined, really grinding every game”.

On Sunday, the Blades trailed at the end of the first period, but tied the game on a wicked shot from Evan Bloodoff. Midway through the third period, rookie Michael Ferrantino stole the puck in the neutral zone, cruised in from the wing, and beat Monarch's goalie with a nifty shot to the top of the net, right up beside the peanut butter jar.

The Blades added a late period goal, but gave one back when the Monarchs scored after pulling their goalie with few seconds remaining. Too little, too late. The Blades survived the late onslaught to win 3-2.
                                                        Blades Goalie Anthony Peters

Much credit for the win went to Anthony Peters, the first star of the game. The Blades were often short-handed, and Peters had to be sharp throughout the game. He had good things to say about his teammates: “They played really well in front of me. They tightened up defensively when required, giving us a chance to win. We split our games on the road against the Monarchs, so we knew they were a good team. But we do well on home ice, especially when teams are here for three games.”

You are familiar with the Florida Panthers' tradition of tossing rats on the ice after a home game victory? Well, the Everblades have something similar in mind, using plastic alligators. It has a ways to go. I counted three.

More than four thousand spectators enjoyed the game at the Germain Arena in Estero, easily visible on the eastern side of the main highway # 75 on the South West Coast. Next Saturday night will also be a special one for the Blades. “Canada Night”, presented by the TD bank. Live music and “Bounce Houses”. I would not have it any other way, unless there is an age restriction. Game time 7:00pm.

James Hurst- January 9, 2017

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