On Saturday, June 9, a sold-out crowd cheered as the Florida Everblades played against the Colorado Eagles in Game 7 of the Kelly Cup Final at Germain Arena. Only five other times in the 30-year history in the ECHL has the victor been decided in seven games. White towels waved frantically as Blades’ #18, Spencer Smallman, made the one and only goal of the first period. Eagles’ #16, Michael Joly, tied the score in the second period. Time stood still late in the second period, when an Everblades’ goal was denied just moments after the goal light went off, horn sounded, players celebrated, music played, smoke fell from the ceiling, and fans rose with cheers. The mood changed from celebratory to silence as the minutes dragged while referees conferred (there is no replay in ECHL, decisions are made by referees’ judgment only).
Questions, confusion, and chants of dismay filled the arena after the controversial call denied the goal. The third period nail biter kept fans on the edge of their seats, first with the Everblades edging the lead 2-1. Then with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period, the Eagles scored two more goals, giving them the advantage 3-2. The buzzer rang too early for the Everblades to tie the score and head into the overtime game the standing crowd was anticipating.
“We just needed five more minutes…five more minutes, we probably would’ve won the game,” explains Everblade Kyle Neuber.
“I thought we deserved a better fate. We have nothing to hang our heads about. These guys, they gave it their all, all year long. I’m proud of our guys,” remarks Everblades’ Coach, Brad Ralph.
With their back-to-back Kelly Cup victories, the Eagles made history, becoming the fourth team to achieve such an elusive prize consecutively. Eagle Michael Joly was honored as MVP of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Everblades’ action resumes in October for the 2018-2019 season. Tickets are on sale now. For more information, go to: www.floridaeverblades.com.
Photos by Jodi Pree