ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Newfoundland Growlers fought back from two two-goal deficits to tie the game early in the third period. However, it was the lack of control by the Growlers in their own zone all contest long that doomed them. Florida capitalized on poor defensive zone play by the Growlers to score a flurry of goals in the first and the late game-winner that proved too much for Newfoundland to overcome. When the dust settled, the Florida Everblades held on to win 5-4 Wednesday night in St. John’s. The visiting team has won all three games in the series so far.
Sam Pooley opened the scoring at 2:32 of the first period with an assist from Alex Gudbranson. After the early goal for the Growlers, the Everblades dominated the rest of the first period, scoring three goals and keeping Newfoundland pinned in their zone for all but the final minutes of the opening frame. Florida opened their scoring as Michael Downing scored at 8:52 of the first. The Everblades then scored as a Growlers penalty expired at 13:52 on a Matt Finn goal, with assists from Downing and Grant Arnold. Florida scored their third of the period at 16:46 on Michael Neville‘s first of the playoffs. Assists on Neville’s goals went to Tommy Thompson and Arnold.
The second period opened with Newfoundland on the penalty kill. The Growlers killed their second penalty of the night, and then Brady Ferguson scored unassisted at 2:42 of the second to bring the Growlers back to one down. The Everblades then went back up by two, as Blake Winiecki got credit for a bouncing puck that went off of Growlers goalie Michael Garteig and in. After coming up short on their first power play of the evening, Newfoundland pulled back to one at 12:24 on Pooley’s second of the night, assisted by Josh Kestner. The Growlers dominated most of the period, outshooting the Everblades 12-6 in the frame, but were unable to get the equalizer.
The Growlers took advantage of the power play and scored 36 seconds into the third period. Giorgio Estephan got the goal with helpers from Marcus Power and Ferguson. Everblades goalie Callum Booth gave up goals on the first shots of all three periods. Florida then scored with 3:02 left in the game. Winiecki tallied his second of the game from Downing and Kyle Platzer. The Growlers had a power play opportunity at 17:18, but could not find the equalizer. The Growlers outshot the Everblades 29-25.
Newfoundland leads the series two games to one, as the teams face off again in St. John’s on Friday night (7:00pm NT) for game four of the series.