TOLEDO, OH – The ECHL’s 2022 Kelly Cup Final gets under way Friday, with the league’s top team, the Toledo Walleye, taking on the Florida Everblades. Both teams are quite familiar with the Kelly Cup Final, with Toledo appearing twice and Florida five times, and with both appearing recently.
Toledo is appearing in the Cup final for the second consecutive season (the 2019-20 season was shortened due to COVID-19, and the Walleye did not participate in the 2020-21 season). In 2019, the Walleye fell to the Newfoundland Growlers in six games. Although the Walleye have never won a Kelly Cup, Toledo is no stranger to the league championship, as the Toledo Storm won the Riley Cup in 1993 and 1994.
Florida last appeared in the Kelly Cup Final in 2018, falling to the Colorado Eagles in an exciting seven-game series. The Everblades won the Kelly Cup in 2012, defeating the Las Vegas Wranglers in five games.
Final Regular Season Records
Toledo Walleye: 49-19-2-2, 102 points (1st in Western Conference, 1st in ECHL)
Florida Everblades: 42-20-6-4, 94 points (3rd in Eastern Conference, 4th in ECHL)
How They Got Here
Toledo Walleye: Toledo defeated Cincinnati in Central Division semifinals, 4-3; Wheeling in Central Division final, 4-0; and Utah in Eastern Conference final, 4-1
Florida Everblades: Florida defeated Greenville in South Division semifinals, 4-2; Jacksonville in South Division final, 4-0; and Newfoundland in Eastern Conference final, 4-1
Game 1 – Friday, June 3 – Florida at TOLEDO – 7:35 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, June 4 – Florida at TOLEDO – 7:35 pm ET
Game 3 – Wednesday, June 8 – Toledo at FLORIDA – 7:30 pm ET
Game 4 – Friday, June 10 – Toledo at FLORIDA – 7:30 pm ET
Game 5 (if needed) – Saturday, June 11 – Toledo at FLORIDA – 7:00 pm ET
Game 6 (if needed) – Tuesday, June 14 – Florida at TOLEDO – 7:35 pm ET
Game 7 (if needed) – Thursday, June 16 – Florida at TOLEDO – 7:35 pm ET
Season Series Recap
The teams did not face each other in the regular season.
How Toledo Wins
The Walleye have several talented skaters at their disposal. Brandon Hawkins (26) and TJ Hensick (24) lead the team in points this postseason. Both had a decent regular season as well, with Hawkins picking up 64 points (35 goals, 29 assists) and Hensick with 78 (22 goals, 56 assists).
In net, Billy Christopoulos has carried the load, appearing in all 16 postseason games. Christopoulos ranks fifth in goals-against average (GAA) at 2.42 and seventh in save percentage at 0.914. During the regular season, the netminder ranked fifth in GAA at 2.58 and third in save percentage at 0.918.
The Walleye had a stellar power play in the regular season at 24.2%, third in the league. If they can solve the Everblades’ penalty kill (third in the regular season at 84.7%), they should have the upper hand.
How Florida Wins
The Everblades also have some talented skaters, but their regular season success hasn’t been as pronounced in the playoffs. Forwards John McCarron, Darik Angeli, and Blake Winiecki all had 70 points in the regular season, with all three averaging over a point per game. In the postseason, only McCarron has equaled that pace, with 14 points in 13 games. Other players have stepped up to even out the point production, but the Everblades will need their top forwards at their best in this series.
Florida will likely stay with goaltender Cam Johnson, who seems to be in his element right now. Johnson boasts a 1.89 GAA and 0.926 save percentage this postseason, and has appeared in 13 games, winning 11 of them. During the regular season, he had a 2.07 GAA and 0.913 save percentage in 15 games. If Johnson continues to play with confidence and can spread that same level of confidence to the rest of the team, the Everblades have a chance to win it all.
Florida had an excellent penalty kill in the regular season at 84.7% but didn’t have the best power play (19%). The Everblades will need to top the Walleye at both to win this series.
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