ESTERO, Fla. – The Florida Everblades will battle the Atlanta Gladiators for a first-round ECHL Kelly Cup playoff match-up to start this Monday. The best-of-seven series will see the Everblades with the home-ice advantage hosting the first two games at Germain Arena starting April 16.
The ‘Blades are coming off a monstrous season claiming this year’s Brabham Cup, with notable awards going to head coach Brad Ralph as the ECHL Coach of the Year, Logan Roe the ECHL Plus Performer of the Year and Mitch Heard was named ECHL Player of the Month to round out the regular season.
Final Regular Season Records:
Florida Everblades: 53-13-2-4, 112 points (Brabham Cup winners, ECHL’s Regular Season Champions)
Atlanta Gladiators: 32-35-2-3, 69 points (4th in South Division, 9th in Eastern Conference)
Series Schedule: (Home Team in CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 – Monday, April 16 – Atlanta at FLORIDA 7:30 pm ET
Game 2 – Tuesday, April 17 – Atlanta at FLORIDA 7:30 pm ET
Game 3 – Thursday, April 19 – Florida at ATLANTA 7:35 pm ET
Game 4 – Friday, April 20 – Florida at ATLANTA 7:35 pm ET
*Game 5 – Sunday, April 22 – Florida at ATLANTA 2:05 pm ET
*Game 6 – Tuesday, April 24 – Atlanta at FLORIDA 7:30 pm ET
*Game 7 – Wednesday, April 25 – Atlanta at FLORIDA 7:30 pm ET
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
The ‘Blades have been able to pull out victories in each contest against Atlanta this season. Atlanta ends the regular season going 0-10 against the ‘Blades but associate head coach Tad O’Had realizes the work really starts when the ‘Blades return to the ice after a few days off during the regular season for playoffs.
“The mindset is a workmanlike mentality, come to work every day let’s continue to study our opposition, let’s be students of the game, let’s be ready to prepare for them because it’s 0-0,” said O’Had.
How Florida Wins:
For Florida preparation has been a key component for the team throughout the season, both Ralph and O’Had are big believers in being prepared and it’s showed in the standings.
“I’m a competitive guy, I feel like I have to do whatever I can to give our team the competitive advantage,” Ralph said. “The biggest part of my role is to prepare, as much video as I can watch, making sure our systems our buttoned up, that’s part of my job.”
Team MVP Martin Ouellette will need to continue his winning momentum. Ouellette ended the year setting a new club record earning 33 wins between the pipes.
How Atlanta Wins:
Atlanta is going to have to outwork their opponents, it’s a one-sided match up on paper with the Everblades clearly favored. Atlanta will need to push the series as far as they can to earn more victories. That means playing smart and trying to exhaust the ‘Blades into mistakes each period, if they don’t it’s hard to see Atlanta conquering the ‘Blades.
Two recent returns, forwards Phil Lane and Tanner Pond should help the Gladiators chances. Lane was just released from his PTO with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters and posted 32 goals in 62 games with Atlanta in the regular season. Rookie center Pond notched 37 points including 14 goals and 23 assists with Atlanta during his 61 games.