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Everblades Take Game Three, Thanks to Special Teams

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The Wheeling Nailers and Florida Everblades brought their best-of-seven series to WesBanco Arena on Wednesday night, and the story of the clash was a simple one – Florida’s special teams were lethal. The Everblades scored three times on the power play, added one shorthanded marker, and were a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, as they snagged the series lead with a 6-3 win on the road. Riley Brace had three points for the Nailers.

Both teams tallied during the first period, with just 1:50 separating the two goals. The Nailers got on the scoreboard first at the 12:37 mark of the opening stanza. Paul Cianfrini took a left point shot, which was stopped by Anthony Peters. However, the rebound popped free for Jordan Kwas, who immediately pounced on it, batting a backhander out of the air and into the net. Florida’s response came on the power play. Ethan Werek dangled around a man on the right side of the ice, before sliding a pass into the slot. The recipient of the feed was Danny New, who had plenty of space to bury a shot in the left side of the cage.

Special teams were the story of the middle frame, and unfortunately for Wheeling, all three goals were scored by the visitors. At the 1:24 mark with the Everblades on the power play, Brendan O’Donnell took a shot from the slot, finding the top-right corner of the goal. A little less than five minutes later, Florida converted on its third consecutive man advantage. Chase Golightly swung a pass through the slot to Kevin Lynch, who wired a one-timer along the ice and into the net. That goal ended Franky Palazzese’s night, and although the Everblades managed just two shots during the remaining 13:45 of the stanza, one of those shots found a home, when Lynch dented the twine while playing shorthanded.

In the third period, the Nailers closed the gap to two on a pair of occasions, but could never get any closer. At the 3:36 mark, Mathew Maione’s shot from the left point got denied, but in similar fashion to the team’s first goal, Riley Brace swatted the rebound through Anthony Peters’ legs. O’Donnell redirected a Justin Agosta point shot for his second tally of the night with 8:40 to go, before Cody Wydo responded with a tip-in goal for Wheeling off of Brace’s shot from the top of the right circle. Gabriel Desjardins finished off the 6-3 win for the Everblades with an empty netter from the left side of his own blueline.

Anthony Peters got his second straight win in goal for Florida, turning away 36 of the 39 shots he faced. Brian Foster ended up with the defeat for Wheeling, making 12 saves on 14 shots in relief of Franky Palazzese, who allowed three goals on 11 shots in the start.

The Nailers and Everblades will play game four on Friday night at 7:35 p.m. at WesBanco Arena.

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