John Muse stopped 27 of 28 shots to lead the Florida Everblades to a 3-1 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings and clinch the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Championship series 4-1 Saturday night at Germain Arena.
The win earns the Blades a chance to play for the ECHL championship against the Las Vegas Wranglers. It is the third appearance in the Kelly Cup Finals series for the Everblades.
After a back-and-forth first period, it was midway through the second period when Mike Ratchuk broke the scoreless tie. Blades teammate David Fischer handed off the puck to Ratchuk streaking up the left side boards to the slot for a wrist shot into the net past Wings goaltender Riley Gill.
The lead lasted only three minutes when the Wings took scored on a power-play opportunity to tie it at 1-1.
The Blades answered on their own power-play chance before the period ended. Sebastien Piche received a pass just inside the blue line where he rifled a long wrist shot that was redirected by Justin Shugg past Gill to take a 2-1 lead.
Six minutes into the third period Blades captain Mathieu Roy stole the puck just outside the blue line, led a 3-on-1 charge and dropped a pass to Trevor Bruess whose high wrist shot gave the Blades a 3-1 lead.
The Blades received sold goaltending from Muse who stopped all remaining shots thrown his way.
The Everblades go for their first ECHL Championship in the Kelly Cup Finals against the Wranglers starting May 12 at Las Vegas.
The Everblades will host Game 3 on May 18, Game 4 on May 22, and Game 5, if necessary, on May 23 at Germain Arena. Tickets for game's three and four are now on sale.
Kelly Cup Finals schedule (times Eastern) ?
Game 1 Monday, May 14: Florida at Las Vegas, 10:05 p.m.?
Game 2 Tuesday, May 15: Florida at Las Vegas, 10:05 p.m.?
Game 3 Friday, May 18: Las Vegas at Florida, 7:30 p.m.?
Game 4 Tuesday, May 22: Las Vegas at Florida, 7:30 p.m.?
Game 5 Wednesday, May 23: Las Vegas at Florida, 7:30 p.m. (if necessary)?
Game 6 Friday, May 25: Florida at Las Vegas, 10:05 p.m. (if necessary)?
Game 7 Saturday, May 26: Florida at Las Vegas, 10:05 p.m. (if necessary)?