ESTERO, FL – Brant Harris scored twice, while Levko Koper finished with three points to help propel the Everblades to a 6-4 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears in Game 6 of the South Division Semifinals Tuesday night. Florida ties the series at 3-3 to force a decisive Game 7 tonight at Germain Arena.
The Blades got out to a great start, absolutely buzzing, and were able to get their first goal on the board 5:30 into the game off of a Brant Harris shot that rebounded out to the side of the net for Levko Koper. Koper dragged around a diving goalie in Mitch Gillam for the goal.
The Blades added another goal just five minutes later off of an almost identical play with Harris taking a shot from the slot that Gillam believed he had stopped, but again bounced to the outside and Harris steered the puck into the net for the goal to make it 2-0 Florida. Gillam would be pulled for the time being after allowing two goals on 11 shots. He was temporarily replaced by Kris Joyce, who was signed as an emergency ATO earlier in the day.
Moments later, the Solar Bears answered with 6:26 remaining in the first period on the power play. Denver Manderson was able to get a shot past Florida netminder Anthony Peters who was screened in front to put the score at 2-1.
The Blades took little time to answer scoring a little over a minute later Brendan O’Donnell received a pass from John McCarron in the slot and roofed it on the rookie Joyce to give Florida a two-goal advantage again.
the Blades would score off a selfless pass by Zack Kamrass who had a lane to shoot but instead sent the puck over to John McCarron who went bar down for the goal making it 4-1 late in the first period and it would stay that way as the teams headed to the intermission.
Mitch Gillam was back in net to start the second period of play, replacing Kris Joyce after he faced three shots and allowing two goals in the first period.
Moments after receiving a high-stick from Chris Crane, Matt Berry got some vengeance in the form of a goal with 3:52 left in the period. Following an O’Donnell shot that just barely missed the net, the puck careened off the boards to the side of the net to Berry who would bury the puck behind Gillam making it a 5-1 game heading into the second intermission.
The Solar Bears would get on the board at 18:27 of the third off a rebound that found its way to Shane Conacher who sent a pass to Milos Bubella who chipped it in, cutting the Blades lead to three early in the third.
In desperation the Solar Bears would pull Gillam for the extra man with 3:52 remaining, landing him on the bench for the second time this game. Although Brant Harris was having none of it as he slid one from deep out into the empty net to put Florida out in front 6-2.
However, the Solar Bears on the ensuing play would get some late goals from Daniel Maggio and Joe Perry but would get no closer, as the Blades would close this one out and force a game seven with a 6-4 victory.
Anthony Peters earned the win making 35 saves, while Gillam takes the loss allowing three goals on 31 shots faced.
Game 7 will be tonight at Germain Arena.