LOVELAND, Colo. – Game 2 of the 2018 Kelly Cup Final between the Florida Everblades and Colorado Eagles exhibited the same physicality that the closing moments of Game 1 foreshadowed. Unlike Game 1, no fighting majors were handed out in Game 2, but both teams still combined for 17 minor penalties as Florida escaped Colorado with a 4-3 victory Sunday night at the Budweiser Events Center.
Colorado defenseman Jake Marto had two bookend goals, with forward J.C. Beaudin scoring his first goal of the series in between Marto’s two tallies. Sam Warning made the scoresheet for the second game in a row with Florida’s first goal, while defenseman Matt Mackenzie and forwards Stephen MacAulay and Mitchell Heard rounded out the Everblades’ other three goal scorers.
As was the case in Game 1, Florida jumped out ahead for shots on goal in all three periods of play. In the first period, Florida went ahead 6-1 in shots on net before Colorado inched back into the game, evening up the shots on goal at eight apiece. The second period was more of the same, with the Everblades totaling an 11-4 shots tally about halfway through. Again, the Eagles clamped down on defense in the latter portion of the second, getting seven shots on net in a row to once more draw even (this time, at 11 apiece) to end the period. Florida’s 12-6 shots advantage in the third period proved the deciding factor in wrapping up the game.
In between the seven minor penalties handed out in the first period, both defenses did a tremendous job getting bodies out in shooting lanes for blocked shots. The only goal of the first, befittingly, came when Marto simply put the puck on net. The shot itself didn’t have a whole lot of speed, dribbling to an awaiting Martin Ouellette, but took an odd bounce and somehow sneaked into the back of the net between the goaltender and the post to put the Eagles up 1-0 at 17:17 of the first. The goal was Colorado’s second power play goal in as many games; the Eagles took all seven games in their previous series with the Fort Wayne Komets to achieve such a number.
The second period saw the discipline of Colorado’s defensive corps slip, as the Eagles penalties cost the team dearly in the middle frame. Nicolas Meloche received two minutes for roughing at just 0:43 of the period, setting up a power play early on for Florida. A little over halfway through said power play, Warning turned on the jets and zoomed past both Matt Register and J.C. Beaudin, gaining a clear shot on Colorado netminder Joe Cannata that he put home at 2:01 of the second.
The Everblades next power play chance came at 5:45 of the second, when Eagles forward Ryan Olsen was sent off for a cross-checking minor. Heard passed the puck to an awaiting Mackenzie on the right wing, setting up a one-timer that he drilled through front-net traffic to make the score 2-1, Florida, at 7:11 of period two. The tide would shift, however, with two Florida penalties later in the period. After both John McCarron and Zack Kamrass garnered slashing and tripping penalties (respectively) one minute apart, Colorado found themselves on a 5-on-3, two-man power play advantage. The following offensive attack yielded a Register shot on goal, which was rebounded and put back on net by forward Michael Joly. Joly’s shot deflected off of Olsen in front, and when Mackenzie whiffed on a Florida clearing attempt, Beaudin put a shot by Ouellette for Colorado’s second power-play goal of the night at 15:37 of the second period.
Florida started the third period on the power play, firing the puck onto Cannata multiple times while getting three of those pucks on net. In short order, Colorado killed off the holdover minor infraction, causing a defensive turnover after a big body check in Florida’s defensive zone. The resulting rush found Colorado captain Matt Garbowsky coming in the blue line, cutting back to thread a pass to an advancing Jake Marto. Marto drew back in stride, firing a wrist shot by Ouellette and making it 3-2, Eagles, at 5:24 of the third.
Florida was not lax in responding, however, as not even a minute later the Everblades knotted the score back up yet again. Kamrass put a left-wing shot onto Cannata that MacAulay got a stick on for the deflection and score at 6:19 of the final regulation period. Colorado continued to give Florida quality chances on net as the period progressed, but the Everblades kept shooting the puck wide of the cage. Cannata did turn away the remaining shots that did happen to get on goal, further cementing the “Concrete Cannata” moniker the Massachusetts native has earned from fans and media alike.
As time ticked down in regulation, Heard stripped the puck from Colorado’s Marto deep in Eagles territory, beating a diving Register with an ever-so-quick toe drag while cutting cross-ice in front of Cannata’s net. Heard exhibited hesitation and patience, waiting for just the right moment before putting a backhand by the glove side of Cannata at 19:24 of the third for the eventual game-winning goal.
News of Note
Colorado rookie forward J.C. Beaudin broke a seven-game postseason scoring drought when he tallied his power-play goal late in the second period. In his previous three series for this year’s playoffs, Beaudin had a scorching eight goals in nine games. His goal on Sunday night brought his postseason point total to 14.
The first four goals of Game 2 — two by Florida, two by Colorado — were all achieved on the power play. Florida went 2-for-6 on their power play tonight, while Colorado was 2-for-5 on the man advantage Sunday evening.
According to a report from Colorado Eagles broadcaster Kevin McGlue, Florida right winger Kyle Neuber punched Gabriel Verpaelst during the Eagles’ warm-up practice Sunday morning. McGlue stated that Neuber was in street clothes at the time, walking out onto the ice and punching Verpaelst has he skated by. The Sin Bin will keep you posted as to whether or not these actions will receive any punishment from the ECHL Front Office.
The Eagles will travel to Estero, Florida for the next three games, beginning Wednesday night. The Sin Bin’s Kristen Wooten and Tia Preece will have all the coverage, right here on thesinbin.net and Twitter!