By Chris Umpierre
ESTERO, Fla. – The Texas Wildcatters have rebounded from defeats in superior fashion this postseason. Texas is 3-0 after losses, outscoring its opponents 13-3.
Can the Wildcatters bounce back from defeat again on Friday with their season on the line?
The Florida Everblades hope they can reverse that trend on Friday. The Blades have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 ECHL South Division Finals. Florida can capture the series with a victory tonight at Germain Arena. Texas must win to force a Game 7, which would be Saturday at Germain.
“We don’t want a Game 7. We don’t want to give them any kind of momentum,” said Blades defenseman Chris Lee, who was reassigned to the team from the American Hockey League Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights last week. “We know they’re going to come out hard. Their backs are against the wall. They can’t afford to lose. So they’re going to be a desperate team.”
Texas has been at its best after defeats. After losing 5-2 to Gwinnett in Game 1 of the South semifinals, the Wildcatters responded with a 5-2 victory in Game 2.
After the Blades drilled Texas 5-0 in Game 1, the Wildcatters answered with a 5-0 drubbing in Game 2. Florida then captured Game 3 by a 5-2 score. Texas posted a 3-1 victory in Game 4. The Blades won Game 5 by a 4-2 tally.
“We’re playing arguably one of the best teams in the league at an early point of the playoffs,” Florida defenseman Brett Peterson said. “So they’re not going to go quietly and we don’t expect them to.”
Friday’s game will mark the 18th time Texas and Florida will play each other this season. Blades coach Gerry Fleming was asked if he’s sick of facing Texas.
“Not at all,” he said. “They’re a good hockey team. I think they bring out the best of us.”
Florida forward Jon Lehun, who missed the last two contests with an undisclosed injury, skated in Thursday’s practice and will be a game-time decision. Forward Reggie Berg didn’t practice Thursday and isn’t expected to play tonight.
The Florida-Texas will play the Dayton Bombers, who beat the Cincinnati Cyclones 5-3 in game seven of their playoff series, in the American Conference Finals scheduled for May 7-19.