SAVANNAH, Ga. – A Thursday night game against the reigning Kelly Cup Champions, the Florida Everblades, was precisely what the Savannah Ghost Pirates needed to get back in the win column at Enmarket Arena. After two straight scoreless games, the Ghost Pirates’ roster combined their power for eight goals on the night and the organization’s first-ever hat trick. That honor was bestowed upon Vincent Marleau, who was absolutely buzzing in all aspects of his game Thursday.
The Ghost Pirates came out fast offensively on Thursday evening in an attempt to shrug off the recent narrative that had been spelled out by their last two outings, going scoreless in both games. It took only 6:03 for them to reach the board with a power-play goal when Nolan Valleau fed a soft pass over to Tristan Thompson,who took the subsequent wrist shot that found the back of the net.
Tristan Thompson's PPG gets us on the board first!#TheHauntBegins #GoGhostPirates pic.twitter.com/6v2SgmmROj
— Savannah Ghost Pirates (@SavGhostPirates) December 9, 2022
The power play was one of the many highlights for Savannah, as they scored three times on the night with the man advantage. Two of those scores came from Thompson, while the other came from Marleau.
A key to opening up the power play seemed to be the wide-open passing lanes Savannah was able to find throughout the night. Those passing lanes were not closed in five-on-five play either, as Savannah seemed able to find the open man on the ice with relative ease. They found minimal pushback on their attempts to exit the neutral zone, while at the same time being able to pester Florida repeatedly on their attempts to get anything going out of that same zone.
Although Isaiah Saville did face 47 shots on the night, Savannah only allowed two goals. Much of the credit, outside of the stellar net-minding Savannah fans have come to know and love from Saville, was due to the Ghost Pirates forcing shots to come from outside the slot and committing to blocking shots throughout the matchup.
A noticeable moment that showcased Savannah’s no-quit mantra came with 10:03 left in the third period. Currently sitting with a very comfortable lead of seven goals, Darian Skeoch dropped down to take a puck to his leg instead of allowing Florida to have a chance at the net. That type of commitment to playing a full hockey game helps showcase the leadership of Skeoch, and shows why he wears an “A” on his jersey.
On the opposite side of the ice, Florida spent the majority of the night attempting to create opportunities or garner any sort of momentum but found difficulties sustaining any offensive pressure. Outside of a singular goal from Nolan Kneen in the second, Florida was only able to provide real dangerous pressure on their power play in the first period and in the final two minutes of the second. They did add another rocket of a goal late in the third period from the stick of Kobe Roth that sizzled past Saville at 16:02, however it ended up being a little too late in the matchup to pose any miracle comeback chance for Florida.
The final score of the night worked out to an 8-2 victory for Savannah, with their three stars of the night as follows:
3rd star – Saville
2nd Star – Thompson
1st Star – Marleau
After the game I got a chance to speak with Ghost Pirates’ head coach Rick Bennett about what he attributed his squad’s success to.
His answer: “Just Simplicity”.
He explained further on that point by talking about how his squad managed to get the puck deep behind Florida’s defenseman and were able to capitalize on those opportunities by playing smart hockey.
Got to speak to Savannah head coach Rick Bennett tonight in regard to how they managed to play offensively tonight. Here is what he said: pic.twitter.com/dVIsJRrUri
— Thomas Ponné Thrift (@FPHGhostPirates) December 9, 2022
Tonight’s game featured a bevy of goal scorers between the two clubs, with Savannah seeing five separate skaters ring the goal light. Florida also added two scorers for each of their goals. Plenty of Ghost Pirates also saw multi-point nights, the most coming from Marleau, who had himself a four-point game featuring three goals and an assist. His third goal came on an attempt to set up Spencer Naas in front of Florida’s net but ended up deflecting off of a Florida stick and careening into the back of the net.
Not only did this mark Marleau’s first professional career hat trick, but it will go down in history books as the first hat trick in Ghost Pirates’ franchise history.
There will not be much time to celebrate for Savannah, or fester on the loss for Florida, as both teams will be playing again tomorrow night in a rematch at Enmarket Arena in Savannah, Georgia. That matchup will mark the first ever Teddy Bear Toss Night for the Ghost Pirates at home.
Your goal scorers for this matchup were as follows:
Savannah | Thompson (2), Pedersen, Marleau (3), Max Kaufman, & Logan Drevitch
Florida |Kneen & Roth
Savannah | Valleau, Alex Swetlikoff (3), Naas (2), Brandon Estes, Connor Corcoran, Kaufman, & Marleau
Florida | Leif Mattson, Cole Moberg, & Jake Smith
In net, Savannah’s Saville stopped 45 out of 47 pucks with a save percentage of .957. Florida utilized two goaltenders in the game: Brody Claeys was swapped out 11:18 into the second period. Claeys stopped 14 out of 20 shots for a .700 save percentage, while his replacement Cam Johnson went 7-for-9 with a .778 save percentage.
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