By Craig Handel
The Florida Everblades have seen Gwinnett frustrate them with great goaltending while the Gladiators kept coming from behind.
However, the Everblades’ perseverance has paid off in a 3-1 series lead in the first round of the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs.
Florida can wrap up the series with a victory Sunday in Game 5.
“We put our frustrations aside and got the puck to the net,” Everblades coach Malcolm Cameron said. “We’ve had the majority of scoring chances, but in the playoffs if you make a mistake, the puck is in the back of your net. We made (Friday’s game) closer than it needed to be.”
Gwinnett charged back in 44 seconds Friday to overcome a 2-0 deficit and tie the game. It was the second time in this series that the Gladiators rallied from 2-0 down.
However, forward Ross Carlson‘s goal at 13:05 of the third gave Florida the lead for good. He added an empty-net goal with two seconds left.
“All but one shift (in the third) was in their end,” Cameron said. “I liked their (his players’) attitude. It was like they said, ‘We’re not going to let this game slide past us, come hell or high water.’ I really like the energy up and down the bench.”
Cameron gave his players Saturday off. With the 4 p.m. start on Sunday, there won’t be a morning practice. He’ll have a meeting but won’t say much to the players.
“Having been through this, the hardest game to win is the one to put a team out,” Cameron said. “As well as we’ve played the last two games, particularly the third period, we have to play 60 minutes of our best hockey to get the result we want. It’s gonna be a battle.”
And Cameron said a good start is key again. “Our approach can’t change,” he said.