By Andy Kent
Copyright © 2005 Naples Daily News
TRENTON, N.J. – After their suspect performance in Game 2 of the 2005 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals, the Florida Everblades’ defensive pairing of Ryan Brindley and Brad Fast came under fire from the fans.
The duo threw water on that fire Friday night in Florida’s dramatic 5-4 overtime victory over the Trenton Titans at Sovereign Bank Arena. They followed up a combined minus-4 outing in last Sunday’s 2-1 loss with a combined plus-6 in Game 3 and then another plus-2 in Saturday night’s 6-3 win in Game 4.
Brindley set up Keith Anderson’s late second-period goal Friday that pulled the Everblades to within 3-2 by waiting patiently in the right circle and then firing the puck on net after he saw Anderson get position. The shot popped up in the air and Anderson batted it into the net.
Fast scored the game-tying goal with under five minutes left in regulation and set up the game-winning goal 1:20 into overtime that was scored by Ernie Hartlieb, then also set up Paul Cabana’s third-period goal Saturday that gave Florida a 5-3 lead.
“The way we played in Game 2 hurt a little bit, but last night I thought was our best game,” Brindley said after Saturday morning’s pre-game skate.
“We played quite a bit and we were just kind of in a zone out there and feeding off each other. We had a great game and fortunately (Fast) put that goal in and made a great play on Ernie’s game-winner.”
In an offensive system like Florida’s with skilled defensemen like Brindley and Fast, too often the defensemen are criticized for their play in the defensive zone. That criticism was warranted in some of the Everblades’ playoff games, but when they produce like Fast and Brindley did in the last two games, it feels good for them.
Fast is a Carolina Hurricanes prospect who spent most of the season in the American Hockey League with the Lowell Lock Monsters. He has a quiet demeanor, quite the opposite of Brindley’s outgoing persona, but he has blended in well with the Everblades.
“When I saw that puck go in (on Fast’s tying goal) I can’t remember a better feeling, it was awesome,” Brindley said. “And his smile on his face, that was great to see him get it going because he’s a great kid, he’s a great hockey player.”