After seizing home ice advantage by splitting the first two games of the ECHL Easter Conference Semifinal playoff series in Reading, the Florida Everblades returned home to Germain Arena and grabbed a 2-1 series lead with a 4-1 win over the Royals.
Game four of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday night. An Everblades win would put them in prime position to end the series Saturday night on home ice. A Blades slip-up would send the series back to Reading for possibly two games.
David Rutherford scored twice Wednesday to help the Everblades claim the 2-1 lead in the series.
Mathieu Roy at the Reading blue line broke into the zone on a breakaway chance and backhanded a shot high past the blocker of Royals goaltender Mark Owuya. The goal was Roy's eighth of the postseason.
The Royals countered with their goal early in the second period. Florida goaltender Jesse Deckert stopped a Kirk MacDonald shot in front, but the rebound bounced to Mark Mitera in the slot, who immediately fired the puck into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Everblades got the game-winner five minutes later on the power play. David Rutherford snapped a shot from the blue line which slipped past a screened Owuya.
A.J. Jenks and Rutherford added goals down the stretch for Florida.