ESTERO, Fla. – There are three things hockey fans in Southwest Florida can count on each winter; beautiful weather, a packed arena (normally), and the Florida Everblades contending for Kelly Cups. Although delayed, the Everblades will kick off their 23rd season at home on Friday night.
Here’s our breakdown of the Everblades heading into the season.
Initial Schedule (home games in BOLD):
Dec 11 – Jacksonville @ FLORIDA – 7:30 pm ET
Dec 12 – Orlando @ FLORIDA – 7:00 pm ET
Dec 18 – Florida @ Greenville – 7:05 pm ET
Dec 19 – Florida @ Greenville – 7:05 pm ET
Dec 26 – Jacksonville @ FLORIDA – 7:00 pm ET
Dec 28 – Florida @ Jacksonville – 7:00 pm ET
Dec 30 – Florida @ Orlando – 7:00 pm ET
Jan 2 – Orlando @ FLORIDA – 7:00 pm ET
Jan 3 – Florida @ Orlando – 3:00 pm ET
Jan 8 – Florida @ Orlando – 7:00 pm ET
Jan 13 – Jacksonville @ FLORIDA – 7:30 pm ET
Head Coach: Brad Ralph – fifth season with Florida, eighth overall, 324-127-43 career regular-season record.
Last Season: 43-13-6-0, 2nd in South Division/2nd in Eastern Conference
2019-20 Season Summary – Per usual, the Florida Everblades were near the top of the Eastern Conference at the time of the COVID-19 stoppage last season. In their final 10 games, the ‘Blades went 8-1-1-0 and were putting a charge into the South Carolina Stingrays, who had slumped because of callups and injuries. The Everblades finished with seven players over 40 points, while netminder Ken Appleby had a stellar 27-8-3-2 mark, with a 2.39 goals against average, a .913 save percentage, and three shutouts.
Hot or Not? – The vaunted Everblades offense seems to have taken another step up during the offseason. The signings of Cameron Hebig, Myles Powell, and Tommy Marchin adds even more depth to an already deep offensive group. On the blueline, the ‘Blades have steady defensemen in Ben Masella, Logan Roe, plus some toughness with the likes of Arwin Atwal and Cody Sol. Cam Johnson looks to be the anchorman in net this season, after sharing the net with Appleby last season.
- Blake Winiecki (F) – Led Everblades with 50 points (24G, 26A) in 56 games last season
- Michael Huntebrinker (F) – Finished 2019-20 with a 1.02 point/game average
- Michael Downing (D) – Finished fifth among Everblades defensemen with a plus-24 rating
- Ben Masella (D) – Led all ECHL players with a plus-40 rating and chipped in with 30 points (2G, 28A) last season
- Myles Powell (F) – Posted 20 points (6G, 14A) in 19 games with Wheeling last season. Had a 66-point season with Cincinnati in 2018-19.
- Nolan Gluchowski (D) – Solid puck-moving defenseman who can chip-in offensively. In 97 games, he has 58 points (18G, 40A).
- Devin Cooley (G) – Send down from NHL Nashville. In two seasons between the pipes for the University of Denver, Cooley went 15-9-2, with a 1.97 goals against average, a .921 save percentage, and six shutouts.
What to Watch For?
- With what appears to be a loaded offense this year, will the Everblades try to outscore opponents or use their defense to shut them down? The first few games might tell us how that will shake out.
- The Everblades will no doubt be a great team again this season, another thing to watch will be how they get up for the same opponent night after night.
For the latest news on ECHL, follow Matthew Harding on Twitter @SinBinThunder.