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ESTERO, Fla. – When the Atlanta Gladiators threatened to gain momentum by pushing game 4 of their South Division Semifinal series into overtime, a short-handed goal Florida’s John McCarron shut the door on the Gladiators permanently and gave the Everblades a four-game sweep with his goal at the 1:48 mark of overtime.

The Everblades secured a Round 2 spot with a 3-2 overtime win Saturday night at Infinite Energy Arena.

“Atlanta was a strong group, they continually battled and have been a team you can’t take lightly all year,” said associate head coach Tad O’Had. “Their captain, Nesbitt and coaches, Weber, Leisenring, are first class. I have a great deal of respect for their organization.”

Justin Kea scored twice, while Matt Mackenzie and Spencer Smallman both notched two assists. Martin Ouellette was in between the pipes where he stopped 16 of the 18 shots faced.

“We were encouraged by our guys closing things out this weekend against Atlanta,” O’Had said. “We felt it was the first step in accomplishing our ultimate goal. We received excellent goaltending and saw several players elevate their game.”

Game four of the series saw an outstanding performance out of goaltender Sean Bonar, stopping 38 shots during his playoff debut. Tanner Pond added two points (1g, 1a) and Joe Gatenby scored once against Martin Ouellette.

Florida now will face in-state rivals the Orlando Solar Bears, where the ‘Blades enter the series with the home-ice advantage. The Solar Bears swept their opening round series against the South Carolina Stingrays.

“Our focus will not change going into Orlando. we need to continue to possess a singular focused mindset on a Game 1. Everyone elevating their game and dialing in their mindset of the greater good,” said O’Had. “We have a special group here, we must stay in the now and elevate our battle another level.”

The ‘Blades will host the Solar Bears Friday and Saturday night at Germain Arena.

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