The Jacksonville Icemen were finally able to defeat the best team in the league Saturday night as Jimmy Lodge scored the game-winning goal in a 4-3 win over the Florida Everblades in overtime.
Despite having bus issues in the middle of the night on their trip down to Estero, the Icemen started the game with speed and energy. Just over two minutes into the game, Tanner Eberle forced a steal as goalie Martin Ouellette attempted to handle the puck behind his net and Elgin Pearce was able to score on the empty net. Chad Thibodeau picked up the primary assist on Pearce's goal, giving the newcomer his first professional point. Later on, Jimmy Lodge had a good look on goal, and captain Garet Hunt picked up the rebound in the crease to give Jacksonville an important 2-0 lead. It only took 42 seconds after Hunt's goal for Florida to get on the board as Mitchell Heard sent a shot from the point that went through traffic in the crease and found the back of the net.
In the second period, Tim Daly found the back of the net for his third goal in two games as he beat Ouellette glove-side. Towards the end of the frame, Mitchell Heard fired a shot from the point that was deflected by Joe Cox in front of the net to pull the 'Blades within one. The Icemen would carry a 3-2 lead into the third period.
The 'Blades started the third period on the 5-on-3 power play following two penalties at the end of the second period. While Florida was unable to score on the two-man advantage, John McCarron capitalized off a rebound just 42 seconds into the frame to tie the game at three. Austin Lotz would stand on his head the rest of the period to keep the Icemen tied through 60 minutes.
For the second time in the 2017-18 season, presented by Community First Credit Union, these two teams would head to overtime. This time, it was the Icemen who skated away victorious as Jimmy Lodge fired a wrist shot past Ouellette for the win.
The Icemen are now just seven points back from clinching a playoff berth after tonight's thrilling win. Cheer on the Icemen as they return to Veterans Memorial Arena on Sunday to face the Brampton Beast at 3:00 p.m. Get your tickets here!