The tough divisional matchup between the Florida Everblades and Greenville Road Warriors continued Saturday night, and it took shootout for the Everblades to secure the 5-4 win over their rival at Germain Arena.
It didn't start the way the Everblades wanted it to with the Road Warriors posting two goals in the first period against netminder Connor Knapp (26 saves), but from the middle of the second period on it was all Florida.
"I told the guys our effort was (terrible)," said Blades coach Greg Poss. "I said, we got lucky in the shootout (last night) and we can't be that arrogant. We have to come out and be prepared to outwork our opponent, and if that's missing we're not going to win any games."
That speech worked, but for the first 8 1/2 minutes of the second period the divisional foes traded penalties. Eventually the Blades took command, tallying three goals.
The first came from Carl Neilson, who fired home a feed from Sean Dolan, getting the Blades on the scoreboard. Florida kept the pressure on, cracking the Road Warrior goalie again late in the period.
With only 2:31 left in the frame, the Blades won a faceoff near the Greenville end. After taking a pass from D-man Braden Birch, Dolan's outstanding play was rewarded with his first goal of the year, tying the contest at 2-2.
After an outstanding kill on a late penalty, Trevor Bruess notched his eighth goal of the year with 5.4 seconds left in the period, to give Florida the 3-2 leadheading into the final period of play.
Dolan's excellent play continued into the third as he made it 4-2 just 1:24 into the frame. Greenville, trailing Florida by only three points in the tight South Division, refused to go quietly into the night.
"I felt good," said Dolan, "I felt like we had even more opportunities to score. We had the puck pretty much the whole game. It's fun to play like that and play with confidence and be able to generate some offense."
The Road Warriors scored twice more before regulation, with the second coming with just 1:37 left in regulation to force overtime. After the scoreless extra period, the Blades scored two in the shootout to secure the win.
The Everblades (24-18) stays home next week for three games, beginning Tuesday against the Orlando Solar Bears.