The saying goes "all good things must come to an end."
For the Florida Everblades and their hopes of keeping their playoff appearance streak alive Wednesday night, that good thing wasn't meant to come to an end for the Blades, who needed a last-minute goal in regulation to eventually beat the visiting Reading Royals 3-2 in a shootout at Germain Arena.
The Royals proved why they are the elite of the Eastern Conference of the ECHL this year, scoring two goals in quick succession against the Blades in the first period.
The scores on Florida starting goaltender Andy Iles (23 saves) came just 1:10 apart and less than eight minutes into the starting period, immediately putting the Everblades on their heels from the onset, in a must-win game if they were to have any hope of making the playoffs for the 16th consecutive year.
"We just said that if we don't win this game, we are officially out of the playoffs," said Blades coach Greg Poss to his team in the second intermission. "We obviously didn't like the first period, where we were terrible. We played well in the second and third periods and it goes to show us what we can do if we don't get down on ourselves."
The 2-0 lead over the Blades held until the third period when the desperation kicked in as it looked like Florida's 16th consecutive playoff appearance was slipping away. That desperation eventually led to a pair of third period goals to force overtime.
The first came with less than four minutes played in the third period when a shot by Geoff Walker was tipped in by Aaron Bogosian, getting the Blades within a goal of the Royals.
Florida's outstanding play continued throughout the third period, but the Royals' netminder was there, turning away 33 of the 35 shots the Blades fired Wednesday night.
Florida got their chance to tie and force overtime with a power-play opportunity with just 1:55 left in regulation. Mike Little scored the game-tying goal with 50.9 seconds left in regulation.
Wednesday's win keeps the Everblades' alive for the last and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. To secure the berth the Blades (35-35) need to win their last two games this weekend at Germain, and hope the Fort Wayne Komets lose their last two games.