Adam Brace posted a four-point night to help lead the Florida Everblades to a 7-2 victory Monday night over the Elmira Jackals in the ECHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoffs at Germain Arena.
The Everblades take the best-of-seven series 4-2, and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Reading Royals. That series begins Friday at Reading, Pa.
The 'Blades were on fire the minute they hit the ice Monday night. Three minutes into the first period, a faceoff win by Brayden Irwin sent the puck to Maury Edwards who shot from the blue line. The puck hit the crossbar and flew into the net for a surprising first goal.
Less than a minute later, the Blades were on the power play, but the Jackals took the advantage of the opportunity. Rob Bellamy took a shot, but was denied by Everblades goaltender Jesse Deckert. Jackals forward Jordan Pietrus gathered the rebound, swung around Deckert at the crease, and slipped it into the net for the shorthanded goal to tie the game at 1-1.
On the same power play, the Blades grabbed the lead right back 22 seconds later. Mathieu Roy picked up a rebound at the top of the crease and backhanded the puck past Jackals goaltender Maxime Clermont for the power play tally.
Two minutes later, Brandon MacLean charged the net and passed the puck to Brace at the right wing circle. Brace fired a shot into the net and for a 3-1 lead.
Florida added to its lead at 9:22 of opening period. Mike Ratchuk fielded the puck at the top of the slot and delivered a no-look backhanded pass to Rutherford at the low circle. Rutherford wristed the puck high past Clermont's glove to put the 'Blades in front 4-1.
The second period opened with an early goal by the Jackals' Chaz Johnson, who snuck a shot on the shortside post past Deckert to pull Elmira within 4-2.
Halfway through the second period, Brace lifted the puck to MacLean, who directed it through the five-hole to put the advantage at 5-2.
The Blades scored one more goal before the second period ended on the power play. Roy pushed the puck to the net using one hand on the backside of Clermont to raise the score to 6-2 after two periods.
The 'Blades shut down the Jackals in the third, posting a 12-4 shots-on-goal advantage. Nearly eight minutes in to final stanza, A.J. Jenks received a pass from Shawn O'Donnell, and backhandeded a shot into the net for the goal to lock up the series four 4-2.
Deckert earned the win stopping 19 of 21 shots faced.
The Blades now battle the top seeded Reading Royals in the conference semifinals beginning Friday.