By Andy Kent
Copyright © 2005 Naples Daily News
TRENTON, N.J. – When your team is down 2-0 in a best-of-seven series, something usually needs to be changed.
Florida Everblades head coach Gerry Fleming acknowledged that after his team narrowly lost Game 2 of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals last Sunday to the Trenton Titans at Germain Arena, 2-1, and went with his gut instinct before Friday night’s Game 3 at the Sovereign Bank Arena.
He chose to leave two-way player Chris Lee and high-scoring forward Paul Cabana out of the lineup and bring back Keith Anderson and Ernie Hartlieb.
The move paid off, as Hartlieb scored the game-winner in overtime, giving Florida a 5-4 win.
By taking Lee and Cabana out, Fleming lost two players who had combined to score 26 points up to this point in the playoffs.
Anderson and Hartlieb had a combined 14 points before Game 3, but they also brought size and a more physical presence to the ice.
Fleming also chose to mix up the lines from the first two games, moving rookie forward Matt Hendricks up to the first line with Damian Surma and Brad Church, putting Hartlieb on the line with rookies David Lundbohm and Steve Saviano and moving Reggie Berg to the third line with Anderson and Keith Vernarsky. Brent McDonald also rotated on that line.
“I expect a little more presence around the net, guys attacking the net a little bit,” Fleming said. “Cabana looked good in the skate (Thursday) but I think Keith deserves an opportunity to play, he’s excited and we’re excited to have him back in the lineup.”
Anderson wound up scoring a big goal with 1:54 left in the second period to cut Florida’s deficit to 3-2 and give the team some momentum heading into the final intermission.
Hartlieb also showed some fire and intensity during his shifts on the ice before scoring the overtime goal.
Cabana was disappointed but understood Fleming’s decision. He had twisted his ankle in the first period of Game 2 and missed two days of practice with swelling.
After Thursday’s practice he said he felt better but Fleming didn’t want to take the risk and also thought a different look on that line, which had been shutout, might help.
“You want to be in and you want to help the team but there’s no sense getting upset about it,” said Cabana, who has 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in the playoffs. “Maybe he thought if I go in there and tweak the ankle again then we’re a man short, so his decision was to keep me out.
“Now I have to be a cheerleader and support my teammates.”