It was a dominant return to the regular season for the Florida Everblades Friday night, opening their season with a 4-1 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears at Germain Arena.
The version of this Blades squad was nowhere to be seen in the two preseason matchups against the Bears last weekend as they opened a fast two-goal lead in the first period of play. The Baldes dominated early, with consistent pressure throughout the first period, culminating in Mike Cornell deflecting a shot by Danick Gauthier nine minutes in, for the first score.
Three minutes later Maxine Parent made it 2-0, and the Everblades were rolling.
"We really came out well," said Blades coach Greg Poss. "We had really good practices all week, and the guys were really fired up to play."
Florida's relentless pressure continued early into the second period. Just 2:23 into the frame, Gauthier got his turn, finding the back of the net after taking a pass from Matthew Pistilli.
From there, it was all Blades defense, with but one lapse at the 16:30 mark of the period, that resulted in Orlando's lone goal of the night.
Kristers Gudlevskis started in net for the Blades turning away 20 of 21 shots faced as a stingy defense allowed only one quality shot on net for the night.
"I think we had tight gaps. The (defense) stayed up in the neutral zone and the forwards back pressured and pushed them right into us. It was just five guys working really hard and we had a lot of success," said Blades defensive leader Jordan Henry.
Henry finished with two primary assists to go along with his outstanding blue line play.
Kyle Bonis rounded out Florida's scoring with an early third-period goal, putting the game out of reach, and securing the good start to the season for the Everblades.
The Blades (1-0 hit the road Saturday night, traveling to Orlando (0-1-0) to complete their season opening home and away series. After a four-game in five nights west coast road trip, they return to Germain Arena Nov. 1.