It was a dominate return to the regular season for the Florida Everblades Friday night, opening their season with a 4-1 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears at Germain Arena.
That dominance continued Saturday night when the Blades handed the Solar Bears a 4-2 defeat in Orlando to sweep the season-opening series. The sweep comes just a week after the Bears handed the Blades a pair of setbacks in two preseason games. The Blades head to the West Coast for a four-game trip that begins Friday against the Ontario Reign.
This version of this Blades was nowhere to be seen in the preseason matchups as they opened a fast two-goal lead on the Bears in the first period. Florida dominated early with consistent pressure throughout, culminating in Mike Cornell deflecting a shot by Danick Gauthier nine minutes in for the first score.
Maxine Parent scored three minutes later to make it 2-0, and the offense was rolling.
"We really came out well," said Blades coach Greg Poss. "We had really good practices all week, and the guys were really fired up to play."
Florida's relentless pressure continued into the early second period. Gauthier would get his turn, finding the back of the Solar Bear net after taking a pass from Matthew Pistilli. From there, it was all defense, with but one lapse at the 16:30 mark of the period, when Orlando scored its lone goal of the opener.
Kristers Gudlevskis started in net for the Blades turning away 20 of the 21 shots he faced behind a defense that allowed only one quality shot on net for the night. Gudlevskis (2-0) had just 12 saves in Saturday's game.
"I think we had tight gaps. The (defense) stayed up in the neutral zone and the forwards back pressured and pushed them right into us. It was just five guys working really hard and we had a lot of success," said Blades defensive leader Jordan Henry.
Henry finished with two primary assists to go along with his outstanding blue line play.
Kyle Bonis finished Florida's scoring with an early third-period goal, putting the game out of reach.
Pistilli added two goals Saturday night and Mike Merrifield and Brandon MacLean added one each.
After the four-game in five-night road trip out west, Florida (2-0-0) returns to Germain Arena on Nov. 1.