ESTERO, FL – Brendan O’Donnell and Stephen MacAulay each scored twice to help pace the Everblades to a 7-4 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears in Game 7 of the South Division Semifinals Wednesday night at Germain Arena. The Everblades clinch the series 4-3 and will now advance to the second round to face the South Carolina Stingrays. The Everblades become the sixth team in ECHL history to win a playoff series after trailing three games to one.
The Everblades were able to get on the board first with 5:31 left in the period; while on the power play Zack Kamrass blasted a shot from the middle of the point and Brendan O’Donnell was able to redirect it and sneak it through the five-hole of Orlando goaltender Mitch Gillam.
Orlando would answer just 21 seconds later, with a goal of their own off the stick of Milos Bubella who was able to collect a shot that bounced off the boards before stuffing it past Florida netminder Anthony Peters.
O’Donnell continued to be a force for the Blades late in the first period, muscling two Orlando players off the puck in their defensive zone and spun a pass to Stephen MacAulay in the slot. MacAulay managed to fire the puck along the ice into the back of the net, giving the Blades a 2-1 lead headed into the intermission.
The Blades added two more goals in the second period to extend their lead to 4-1. The third goal for the Blades was by the hand of Brant Harris who was able to take the puck away from a scrum in front of the net before performing a 180 and shooting the puck along the ice behind Gillam.
The Blades added another tally at 6:56 f the period when Dalton Smith battled in front for a rebound that he was able to jam past Gillam to give the Blades a commanding 4-1 lead.
Matt Berry scored early in the third on the power play after the puck hopped right to his stick and he was able to put it into a wide-open net to adding to the Blades lead to make it 5-1.
Orlando answered at 18:06 to cut the Blades lead to 5-2 with a goal by Chris Crane who was able to stretch out Peters and beat him through the five-hole for the tally.
Florida would add another goal at 15:06, when Matt Hatch blazed down the wing and passed the puck into the slot to MacAulay for the one-time into the net. That would draw the end of the night for Gillam after surrendering six goals on 32 shots, Kris Joyce would be called into action for the second straight night.
Brendan O’Donnell scored his second of the game at 4:18 on a delayed penalty, wristing a shot by Joyce from the slot to give the Blades a 7-2 lead. O’Donnell finished the game with four points (2g, 2a).
The Bears Taylor Doherty and Denver Manderson would each add goals in the closing moments of the third to pull Orlando back within three, but the Blades would close out the game and the series by clinching game seven with the 7-4 victory. Peters earned his fourth win in the playoffs making 23 saves.
The Everblades will now face the South Carolina Stingrays in the South Division Finals. We’ll have a preview of that series soon.