The two founding members of the Florida Everblades, Peter Karmanos Jr. and Craig Brush were honored during a pre-game ceremony Saturday at Germain Arena. During the ceremony, the Atlanta Gladiators stood at their bench moving their legs back and forth eager to spoil the occasion.
Karmanos Jr., chief executive officer of the Everblades and owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, was recognized for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November. Brush was recognized for being inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in February.
A strong 25 save effort from goalie Matt Ginn pulled the Atlanta Gladiators within four points of a playoff spot, defeating the Florida Everblades 2-1 in front of a sell-out crowd.
The Gladiators came out strong holding the Everblades to 4 shots in the first frame, as the Everblades struggled to create offense.
The teams battled for much of the first period until Gladiators forward Brock Higgs found the back of the net at 16:43. Anthony Peters made the initial save on Justin Buzzeo’s quick, hard shot from below the right faceoff circle. Peters gave up a rebound on the shot, which landed on the stick of hard-charging Higgs, who skated from above the faceoff circles to collect the puck and bury it into the open net.
The Everblades began to find their way offensively in the second period. They seized the momentum from the Gladiators after Eric Neiley skated hard to the Everblades, net colliding with goalie Anthony Peters. Everblades defenseman Rob Florentino took exception to the play, grabbing Neiley by the back of the jersey and pulling him down. After landing one punch a piece, both players headed to the penalty box, creating some open ice 7:21 into the second period.
However the Everblades failed to capitalize on several scoring chances, after tallying six unanswered shots over the next six minutes of the game.
“I thought in the second and third period we created enough (scoring chances),” Everblades coach Greg Poss said. “We’ve got to capitalize on some of them.”
An unfortunate mishandle of the puck by Peters gave the Gladiators a 2-0 lead at 19:59 of the second period. When Peters attempted to clear the puck with just seconds remaining in the period, the puck bounced off his stick and into the Everblades’ net.
The Everblades finally got on the scoreboard at 12:32 of the third period on Brendan O’Donnel’s power play goal, extending his goal scoring streak to five games and igniting the crowd.
A two-on-one scoring chance went by the wayside for the Everblades when Justin Agosta passed up a shot attempt and decided to pass the puck instead. The Everblades pulled their goaltender in an attempt to tie the game, but Ginn and the Gladiators were able to withstand the Blades’ final minute push to win its second game in a row at Germain Arena.
“We just can’t get rattled about things,” Poss said. “We just have to keep going and realize how hard it is to play against these teams that are battling for a playoff spot. We’ve got four games against Orlando and it’s going to be the same way.”
The Everblades return to action Tuesday as they take on their division foe, Orlando Solar Bears. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Amway Center.
© 2016 Naples Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.