Everblades clinch playoff spot for 22nd time in 23 years
ESTERO, Fla. — Hertz Arena in Estero will soon be buzzing with the sound of cowbells as thousands of green-clad hockey fans cheer on the Everblades in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
“Our organization is a first class organization with high expectations,” said Everblades Head Coach Brad Ralph.
Those expectations were met Saturday night in Estero when the Blades defeated Jacksonville 6-2 and secured a spot in the upcoming postseason.
In fact, not counting last season’s canceled playoffs, those interested would have to go back to 2014 to find the last time the team failed to make the postseason as the Blades will now play in their 22nd postseason in 23 years.
“I think that speaks for itself,” said team captain John McCarron.
McCarron is in his fifth season with the team and will be playing in his fourth postseason in Estero. So much success should make a player complacent, but not McCarron.
“It’s the most fun time of the year,” McCarron said. “It’s kind of what you battle for all season and I don’t take it for granted.”
For Ralph, however, the playoffs started months ago
“I kind of jumped into this season in playoff mode,” Ralph said. “It’s almost been two years in the making for playoffs. There’s going to be a lot of energy and emotion from our end, certainly from the players who have been here for two years.”
Before the postseason begins, however, both McCarron and Ralph want to see the Blades secure a home ice advantage in the form of a division title.
It’s something McCarron says is a must.
“I think our home record compared to our road record is glaringly better,” the team captain admits. “That is something we do need to work on.”
Leading the South Division standings in the ECHL by two points over Greenville, the Blades have six games left to clinch the division. Four of those games, however, are on the road.
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