JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The number two and number four seeds of the South are set to begin their best-of-seven division final series. It will be a Fight for Florida, as the Jacksonville Icemen and Florida Everblades battle for the chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. In an interesting aside, this is the only division final in the ECHL that does not feature the number one seed.
These same teams met in 2022’s South Division Final as well, with Florida sweeping Jacksonville on their way to the Kelly Cup Championship. There are 23 returnees from last year’s postseason, nine with the Everblades and 13 with the Icemen. After winning the championship with Florida, goaltender Parker Gahagen has switched sides and is now with Jacksonville.
Final Regular Season Records
Jacksonville: 44-23-3-2, 93 points (3rd in Eastern Conference, 6th in ECHL)
Florida: 38-25-4-5, 85 points (7th in Eastern Conference, 11th in ECHL)
How They Got Here
Jacksonville: Defeated Greenville Swamp Rabbits 4-2 in South Division Semifinals
Florida: Defeated South Carolina Stingrays 4-2 in South Division Semifinals
Game 1: Saturday, May 6 – Florida at JACKSONVILLE – 7:00 pm ET
Game 2: Sunday, May 7 – Florida at JACKSONVILLE – 5:00 pm ET
Game 3: Wednesday, May 10 – Jacksonville at FLORIDA – 7:30 pm ET
Game 4: Friday, May 12 – Jacksonville at FLORIDA – 7:30 pm ET
*Game 5: Saturday, May 13 – Jacksonville at FLORIDA – 7:00 pm ET
*Game 6: Monday, May 15 – Florida at JACKSONVILLE – 7:00 pm ET
*Game 7: Tuesday, May 16 – Florida at JACKSONVILLE – 7:00 pm ET
Season Series Recap
Jacksonville and Florida split their regular season series, with each team winning six of the twelve games. The Icemen outscored the Everblades by a slight margin, 34-32. Netminder Cam Johnson was the go-to guy for Florida, with five wins in ten appearances. For Jacksonville, it was Olof Lindbom, with five victories in seven tries.
Icemen Brendan Harris with 12 points (two goals, ten assists) and Christopher Brown with ten (two goals, eight assists) were the only two skaters from either team to crack double digits. The Everblades’ Joe Pendenza came close with nine (five goals, four assists).
How Jacksonville Wins
The Icemen need to take advantage of the power plays they are given. After capitalizing on 21.3% of their chances in the regular season, that number has dropped almost 2% in the postseason (19.4%).
In net, Lindbom may be just what the doctor ordered. He had a very successful regular season against Florida, and he is coming off two straight wins in the round one series with Greenville, earning a 2.16 goals-against average and 0.917 save percentage.
How Florida Wins
Like Jacksonville, Florida has to be better on the power play. Under 15% during the regular season, the postseason’s 24% is a huge improvement, though one six-game series is still a small sample size. Playoff teams tend to be more disciplined, so it’s imperative that every man-advantage is just that—an advantage.
It’s only logical that the Everblades continue to rely on Johnson between the pipes. He was highly reliable last postseason, helping his team to the Kelly Cup Championship. His 26-20-4-3 record, 2.85 GAA, and 0.907 save percentage in the regular season were not the greatest, but Johnson seems to have come alive for the playoffs, boasting a stingy 1.61 GAA and 0.947 save percentage.
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