Everblades get physical, run over Express

A trio of newcomers ignite Florida with tough play and scoring prowess

Written by
Craig Handel
Florida Everblades defenseman David Fischer looks to set up a shot against the Chicago Express at Germain Arena on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2012. Fischer assisted on a goal in the second

The Florida Everblades showed a couple of new looks Wednesday night at Germain Arena.

If they keep looking like this, they’re going to cause some damage — in both the standings and in their foes’ medical reports.

Florida not only beat the Chicago Express 7-2 but they beat them up in ECHL action before 3,951 fans at Germain Arena.

Defenseman Scott Fletcher delivered a bone-crunching check on Chicago forward Kyle Zastrow that could be heard in the press box. Everblades president and general manager Craig Brush said, “That was as hard of a hit here as I’ve ever seen. It was big-time.”

Forward Trevor Bruess and defensemen Chris Murray and Ryan Donald also dealt nasty checks while forward Matt Marquardt blasted a shot that went off Chicago goalie Paul Dainton’s facemask.

“I don’t think he ever saw it,” Florida coach Greg Poss said. “Man, that’s a hard shot. He’s got a cannon.”

Forwards Tyler Shelast, Brayden Irwin and Marquardt played in their first games at Germain Arena and besides their checks added two goals and one assist. Forward Kory Falite, who also has been with Florida for just 10 games, also had a goal.

Even with suspended Leigh Salters — “That’s a game I would’ve like to play in” — out, Florida still had five players on the ice who were over 210 pounds yet they committed just nine minutes in penalties.

“Those are elements of any team, NHL, AHL down,” Shelast said. “Physical teams are much harder to play against, I think especially as talented as this team is, you add physical play and this is gonna make us a lethal team. It opens up space, defensemen don’t want to go back as much and guys hear footsteps.”

Chicago scored first but Florida responded a little more than a minute later when Falite scored on a rebound.

Goals by defenseman Kyle Lawson in the first and Scott Pitt in the second put the Everblades up 3-1.

The Express cut the deficit to 3-2 but Bruess’ goal on a nice pass from defenseman David Fischer with 29 seconds left in the second was a backbreaker.

Florida kept the pressure on in the third period, got the puck deep and it led to goals by Shelast, Irwin and David Rutherford. Irwin, who arrived earlier in the day, said he basically went straight from the airport to the rink.

“We played a good, team game,” Poss said. “We kept getting the pucks deep, we played well with the lead and when you do that, you get more chances.

“We’ve been impressing (physical play) a lot. When you play inside the game like that, you don’t think you react. It’s important to play that way physical because you use instinct. It was really good to see.”