Game 53: Elmira Jackals (9-36-6-1) vs. Florida Everblades (35-10-2-3)
7:05 p.m., First Arena, Elmira, New York
The Jackals play the middle game of a three-in-three at home and open a two-game series with the Florida Everblades tonight at First Arena. It's the fourth game of the five game season series and the first match since the Jackals played three games in four nights in Florida in early December.
Florida is in the midst of a six-game road trip, holding a 2-1-0-0 record in the first three games against Greenville and Norfolk. The Everblades have points in nine of their last 10 games, posting a 7-1-1-1 record to improve to 35-10-2-3 on the season. They lead the South Division and are tops in the Eastern Conference, eight points ahead of Manchester for the top spot in the conference.
The Jackals are winless over the last 16 games (0-14-1-1) and are now 9-36-6-1 on the season. Elmira is in the midst of what is now a five-game homestand, including the resumption of the suspended game with Reading Feb. 28. With 25 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
Last time out
The Alaska Aces scored a pair of power-play goals and a shorthanded goal to down the Jackals, 4-3, in their only match of the season last night at First Arena.
Alaska opened the scoring at 10:27 of the first period on a wrist shot from Danny Moynihan from between the circles following a Jackals turnover. Tim Wallace increased the lead to 2-0 on a power-play goal 2:39 into the second period. From there the teams alternated goals the rest of the way. Justin Kea brought the Jackals within one on a breakaway goal at 5:54.
After an Alaska shorthanded goal at 10:30, Davis Vandane struck on a 5-on-3 power play just over a minute later to again make it a one goal game, 3-2. In the first Steven Tarasuk scored with the man advantage at 12:30, but again the Jackals answered with a Kenton Miller power-play goal. Despite a late flurry, the Jackals failed to tie the game, falling 4-3 to the Aces.
Home and away
The Jackals have played more road games (31) and fewer home games (21) than every team in the ECHL. That means over the final 20 games of the season, the Jackals have 15 home games and five road games remaining on their schedule.
The Jackals are winless in their last 11 road games, their longest drought of the season, falling to 3-23-4-1 away from First Arena. The winless over 11 games has tied the Indy Fuel for the longest winless streak on the road this season. In fact, the Jackals have lost eight straight road games on three separate occasions and have 52 goals for as opposed to 127 goals against in 31 road matches.
In 21 home games, the Jackals are 6-13-2-0, with five straight home losses, and have a -16 goal differential, with 60 goals for and 76 goals against. Despite playing 10 fewer home games, the Jackals have scored eight more goals on home ice.
Tonight, the Jackals will become the first team since 2004 to play host to the Alaska Aces and Florida Everblades on back-to-back nights. It's the fourth time in ECHL history that the rare double has taken place and the first time that it has occurred on the east coast.
The last instance was Nov. 3-4, 2004 when the San Diego Gulls played host to both teams. It also happened Nov. 8-9, 2003 at Bakersfield and Nov. 4-5, 2003 in Las Vegas.
It's been a while
Over the last seven games, during which the Jackals are 0-5-1-1, the Jackals have never held a lead. Their last lead came Feb. 4 at home late in the second period against Brampton. The Beast scored three goals in three minutes to erase that Jackals lead and Elmira hasn't led since.
Not including Friday's suspended game against Reading, another game Elmira didn't hold a lead, the Jackals have played 451:00 consecutive minutes without holding a lead. If you add the 13:53 from Friday, that swells to 464:53 of on-ice time that the Jackals have either been tied or trailing since they led a game.
Tonight is fourth of five meetings between the Jackals and Everblades this season. Florida won two of the three when the Jackals visited Germain Arena in early December, but the Jackals won the last one and handed the Everblades their first regulation home loss of the season.
The Everblades scored 10 goals in the three games and are led by Brant Harris, who had six points (1g, 5a) in the three games. Michael Kirkpatrick is next with five points, including a team-high three goals. For the Jackals, Davis Vandane led the way down south with four assists over the three games, followed by Matt Lane's three points (1g, 2a).
In net, Anthony Peters started just one of the three for Florida, allowing four goals in a win to open the series. Andy Iles started two games for the Jackals and went 1-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.
Scouting the Everblades
The Everblades enter the weekend leading the South Division and the Eastern Conference with 75 points at 35-10-2-3. Florida has a 12 point lead in the division on Greenville and Orlando and are eight points clear of Manchester for the conference's top record. They have points in nine of the last 10 games (7-1-1-1) and are in the midst of a six-game road trip, which concludes Sunday in Brampton.
Florida enters fourth in the league offensively with 3.78 goals-per game and fifth at 2.90 goals-against per game. Brant Harris is the top scorer for Florida with 61 points (24g, 37a) in 50 games, including five game-winning goals. Michael Kirkpatrick is next among active players with 48 points (17g, 31a) over 47 games.
Anthony Peters has seen the majority of the ice time in net for the Everblades, appearing in 37 games. He is 25-9-1-1 with a 3.03 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. He made just one of the three starts against the Jackals in Florida in December, allowing four goals, but earning the win.
Despite their prowess offensively, the Everblades power play ranks 20th in the ECHL at 15.3%, going 29-for-189 with the man advantage. On the road, Florida's unit jumps to 10th in the league at 19.2%.
The Jackals went 2-for-8 on the power play last night, moving to 26-for-173 (15.0%) on the season, ranking 21st in the ECHL. At First Arena, the Jackals are in the top 10 in the league, converting on 19.7% of their chances. They allowed their eighth shorthanded goal against last night.
Florida's penalty kill ranks 12th in the ECHL by allowing 33 power-play goals in 203 shorthanded chances, an 83.7% penalty kill rate. The Everblades are tied with Colorado for the most shorthanded goals with 13.
The Jackals allowed two power-play goals in eight chances last night, falling to 79.1% on the penalty kill this season, which is 24th in the ECHL. They are better at home, stopping 83.6% of opposition power plays.