ESTERO, FL- The Florida Everblades have had a lot of success in third periods this season, and for the second night in a row, that was the difference in the hockey game. Florida found the back of the net three times in the third period to collect a 5-3 win over the Wheeling Nailers at Hertz Arena. Cody Sylvester scored a shorthanded goal and had an assist for the Nailers.
Neither team lit the lamp in the first period, but that changed in a big way in the middle frame, as the score became 2-2 rather quickly. Florida got on the board first at the 2:10 mark, as Joe Pendenza swung the puck to Michael Huntebrinker for an open shot from the bottom of the right circle. The Nailers drew even 1:43 later. Joshua Winquist wheeled around the offensive zone to the high slot, where he blazed a wrist shot into the top-right corner of the cage. Blake Winiecki gave the Everblades their second lead of the evening at 10:27, when he poked in a centering pass from Max Cook. Once again, Wheeling had a rapid response, as two minutes after that, Cody Sylvester threw a shorthanded hit to steal the puck, before chipping a shot over a pokecheck by netminder Jake Hildebrand.
Florida's most dangerous period this season has been the third, and despite a 19-6 shots advantage by the Nailers, it was the home team who prevailed. Former Nailer Myles Powell put the Everblades on top two seconds after his team's power play expired, as he banked in a feed from Max Cook along the left side of the goal line. Alex Kile extended the lead 4:06 later, when an odd bounce off the corner glass led to a quick cycle, with him sliding the puck in on the left side of the crease. Wheeling put all sorts of pressure on with the goaltender pulled, and was able to get one goal from it, as Patrick McNally launched in a wrist shot from the center point. Unfortunately, a tying goal wasn't in the cards and Hugo Roy tacked on an empty netter for a 5-3 Florida final.
Jake Hildebrand turned in a strong performance in goal for the Everblades, as he turned aside 36 of the 39 shots he faced for the win, including 18 of 19 in the third period. Shane Starrett made 22 saves on 26 shots in the defeat for the Nailers.
The Nailers will return home to start a busy month of April at WesBanco Arena on Thursday night at 7:10, when they play host to the Jacksonville Icemen. A limited number of tickets are available for Wheeling Nailers home games, and season memberships and flex packs are also available. To purchase yours or to get more information, visit wheelingnailers.com or call (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.