Five straight wins moves Florida to top spot

A five-game winning streak over which they have outscored their opponents 21-8 has moved the Florida Everblades to the top of the ECHL standings. Florida enters the week 11-4-0 for 22 points and has a six-point lead over Atlanta in the South Division standings.

The Everblades opened last week with an 8-2 win at Atlanta on Tuesday. Mike Aviani (2g-1a) and Evan Bloodoff (1g-2a) led the way offensively with three points each while Florida’s power-play unit connected three times on four opportunities.

On Friday, Florida rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to comeback and defeat Idaho 4-3 in overtime. Matt Marquardt, Brant Harris and Matt Willows scored four minutes apart early in the second period to give the Everblades a 3-2 lead only to see the Steelheads pull even late in the period to eventually force overtime. In the extra session, Willows scored his second goal of the game at 2:23 to lift Florida to the win. In addition to the two-goal night for Willows, Matt Stanisz (3a), Ethan Werek (2a) and Harris (1g-1a) all had multiple-point games.

Florida ended the week with a 3-0 victory over the Steelheads on Saturday. Daniel Altshuller stopped all 21 shots he faced to record the shutout while three different Everblades’ players tallied goals. Werek and Willows both chipped in with a pair of assists for their second straight multi-point games.

Aviani, who was loaned to San Jose of the American Hockey League on Sunday, is tied for second in the ECHL with eight goals and is tied for third with 15 points along with his teammates Willows and Marquardt. Willows’ 15 points are also tied for first among all ECHL rookies. The Everblades are the top offense in the league averaging 3.73 goals per game.

Florida’s goaltending tandem of Altshuller and Anthony Peters has also been solid as they have combined to allow 1.80 goals per game which ranks second in the league. Althusler’s two shutouts are tied for the league lead and he is third with a 1.50 goals-against average and third with a .942 save percentage while Peters is fourth with a 1.71 goals-against average and fifth with a .939 save percentage.

The Everblades are home for three games this week, hosting Wheeling on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.