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Blades have look of a champ

October 18, 2013
By RYAN RYLES - Special to the Breeze , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The purpose of training camps and preseason games is the same in every sport - finding out how good of a team you can be that season.

Two seasons removed from their first Kelly Cup championship, the Florida Everblades have the look of the same purpose as that team for 2013-14 - another Kelly Cup.

When pressed, all coach Greg Poss would say about the team's makeup was that it is "a good mix of veterans and young guys looking to make a name for themselves." Poss added that it is too early to tell how this year's team would compare to the one that won it all, but the optimism is there, and for some obvious reasons.

Last weekend's preseason games gave the Blades some idea of how far they can go toward their purpose. With the return of Mathieu Roy, Mathew Pistilli, Brandon Maclean and Trevor Bruess from their Kelly Cup season, and newcomers John Henrion and Ryan Little, the Blades will have no problem finding the back of the net. All seven of Florida's preseason goals were scored by a different player, Roy being the only aforementioned player not to score because he didn't play.

Speaking of nets, the Blades should be solid there, too, at least for as often as they get Kristers Gudlevskis back from callups to the AHL. Gudlevskis' youthfulness, size and athleticism in the net could go a long way to Florida's goal of another Cup. Neither Zeke Testa nor Jesse Deckert stood out in their respective preseason performances, both losses, but Deckert showed more than Testa at this point, and provides a veteran stability among an otherwise young group of net minders.

"We have two of the top goalies in the league with Deckert and Gudlevskis, and Testa is still developing," said Poss. "I think (goaltending) definitely will be a strength as we go through the year."

At the blue line Jordan Henry and the returning Charles Landry are familiar names to Blades fans from their Kelly Cup season. Unlike that year, Henry is on the smallish size as Poss has gone with bigger bodies instead of goal scorers and puck movers on defense.

Austin Levi, Joe Stejskal and Tyson Gimblett all are over 6-foot-3 and weigh in over 205 pounds. Landry and speedy, though smallish, newcomer Mike Little provide the offensive punch fans have seen from guys on the Blue Line.

"Right now, the guys are still learning the systems," said Poss as the Blades prepare for Friday's season opener against the Solar Bears at Germain Arena. "So far, so good. On offense, we were able to take advantage of our opportunities and battled for loose pucks. I liked the attitude and determination we showed in trying to come back. On defense, we didn't give up too much, particularly Saturday night. Winning and losing doesn't matter until the regular season starts."

The biggest concerns from preseason were penalty killing and the power play, both of which weren't part of the training camp or preseason regimen.

"We've done almost no work on either of those yet," said Poss. "So I'm not concerned about our play there (yet)."

 
 
 

 

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