Florida Everblades

Looking Back on 8 Seasons That Built Greatness

It's been a day since the Norfolk Admirals hoisted the Calder Cup for the first time. The amazing thing about championships is that they're a shared milestone in the lives of, really, thousands, between the players, coaches, staff, and fans. Those journeys often contain compelling stories that make the triumph worth that journey. For Jon Cooper, it was about closing down his law practice to coach his way from Michigan high school hockey, to the USHL to working with Hockey USA, to a 2 season sprint to glory in the AHL. For Cory Conacher, it was about not being drafted and playing hockey at off-the-beaten path Canisius, dealing with diabetes, and earning an NHL contract in March of an MVP season before posting 4 assists in the championship clinching Calder Cup Finals game.

The stories of the players and the coaches are the ones we'll read about in the coming months and years, and they should be. When the Lightning made their Stanley Cup run in 2003-2004 and were playing the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals, John Tortorella refused to fire back at Ken Hithcock's remarks about "Italians from Boston," because Torts rightfully understood, "It's about the athletes." Ultimately, they're the ones who score the goals and make the saves. They sacrifice their bodies and take the stitches and they take the slings and arrows if they lose. Ultimately, it's their moment, and to a lesser extent the moments of their families who supported them in the journey up to those moments. The hockey moms and dads who woke up at 6:00 am to drive their kids to games. Scratching together money for skates and ridiculously expensive composite sticks. The wives and significant others who live with the players and coaches through the disappointments and the frustrations, and live in fear of moments when things can go wrong, like when slap shots can hit a man in the ear at 90 miles an hour, similar to what happened to Scott Jackson.

Less compelling, perhaps, is the story of an organization, but, these are stories can be worth telling, too... especially in this case. We started beta testing Bolt Prospects in 2004-2005, one year after the Lightning's Cup win, in the heart of the NHL lockout. That year was also the first year since the Detroit Vipers of the IHL folded after the 2000-2001 season that the Lightning had a full-time minor league affiliate: the Springfield Falcons. Absent a full-time affiliate, it became clear the Lightning would struggle to maintain their spot on top of the hockey mountain, because split affiliates would not give prime ice time and coaching help to another organization's players. That problem prompted the start of an 8 year process for the Lightning that ended in building what must be considered the sport's preeminent developmental apparatus with the Norfolk Admirals' Calder Cup championship and the Florida Everblades' Kelly Cup Championship.

Prospect of the Week (6.1.12)

This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions.

We wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospect’s achievement on the ice.

This week’s (belated) BP Prospect of the Week award goes to … Sebastien Piche, Charles Landry, and Pat Nagle (Florida Everblades, ECHL).

These three Lightning prospects helped the Florida Everblades to their first Kelly Cup championship last Wednesday when the ‘Blades topped the Las Vegas Wranglers, 3-2, on an overtime goal by rookie Brendan MacLean.

Kelly Cup Finals Game Night: 5-23-12

(W3) Las Vegas Wranglers 2 @ (E5) Florida Everblades 3 (OT)
Kelly Cup Finals – Florida wins best of 7 series 4-1

D Charles Landry, FLA: 0-0-0, +1, 2 SOG, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 11 GP, 1-2-3, +7, 5 PIM
Season Totals: 35 GP, 2-7-9, +5, 10 PIM
D Sebastien Piche, FLA: 0-0-0, E, 2 SOG, 11 PIM (tripping, fighting, roughing)
Playoff Totals: 18 GP, 2-9-11, +10, 51 PIM
Season Totals: 16 GP, 3-7-10, +2, 41 PIM
D Kevin Quick, FLA: 0-0-0, +1, 0 SOG, 2 PIM (roughing)
Playoff Totals: 16 GP, 1-3-4, +4, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 33 GP, 0-10-10, -6, 4 PIM (Norfolk property)
G Pat Nagle, FLA: Did not play (backup)
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 4-1-0, 1.42 GAA, .941 sv%, 2 SO
Season Totals: 39 GP, 20-14-0-3, 2.87 GAA, .905 sv%, 1 SO

Champions!

Florida won their first Kelly Cup championship on Wednesday night when rookie Brandon MacLean scored early in overtime on a two-on-one to defeat the Las Vegas Wranglers, 3-2. MacLean is a former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound who recently completed four years at Carleton University in Canada. He only played 13 regular season games for the ‘Blades.

Florida jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but eventually allowed Las Vegas to tie the game in the third period before MacLean played hero. Former Lightning draft pick and current Norfolk Admirals property Kevin Quick had a strong defensive play in overtime that eventually led to the winning goal. Lightning prospect Charles Landry played at least one shift in overtime and Sebastien Piche was among the top minute eaters for the ‘Blades all night on the blueline.

The Everblades had made the finals two previous times, but this is their first championship. Carolina prospect John Muse, who stopped 41 of 43 shots to get the win in Game 5, was named playoff MVP. Lightning prospect Pat Nagle filled in for him against Elmira and played well, including earning two shutouts. He played twice against Kalamazoo, winning Game 1, but dropping Game 2. He was replaced by Muse in Game 3.

Lightning prospect Alex Hutchings was an alternate captain for much of the season for Florida, but earned a promotion to AHL Norfolk and has been with the Admirals for the last few months.

Congratulations to the Florida Everblades, 2011-2012 Kelly Cup Champions.

(Woody Wommack/Naples News photo)

Kelly Cup Finals Game Night: 5-22-12

(W3) Las Vegas Wranglers 1 @ (E5) Florida Everblades 3
Kelly Cup Finals – Florida leads best of 7 series 3-1

D Charles Landry, FLA: 0-0-0, E, 0 SOG, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 1-2-3, +5, 5 PIM
Season Totals: 35 GP, 2-7-9, +5, 10 PIM
D Sebastien Piche, FLA: 0-1-1, +2, 2 SOG, 2 PIM (boarding)
Playoff Totals: 17 GP, 2-9-11, +10, 40 PIM
Season Totals: 16 GP, 3-7-10, +2, 41 PIM
D Kevin Quick, FLA: 0-0-0, +2, 0 SOG, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 15 GP, 1-3-4, +3, 10 PIM
Season Totals: 33 GP, 0-10-10, -6, 4 PIM (Norfolk property)
G Pat Nagle, FLA: Did not play (backup)
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 4-1-0, 1.42 GAA, .941 sv%, 2 SO
Season Totals: 39 GP, 20-14-0-3, 2.87 GAA, .905 sv%, 1 SO

One more. Florida pulled within one game of winning the Kelly Cup by defeating the Wranglers, 3-1, at home on Tuesday night. Lightning prospect Charles Landry and Norfolk Admirals property Kevin Quick were back in the lineup for the Everblades. Neither registered a point, but Quick was plus-2. Sebastien Piche (pictured) earned an assist on Florida’s insurance goal to go up 3-1 with just over four minutes left in the game. Florida can hoist the Cup Wednesday night in southwest Florida.

ECHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-18-12

(W3) Las Vegas Wranglers 3 @ (E5) Florida Everblades 4 (OT)
Kelly Cup Finals – Florida leads best of 7 series 2-1

D Charles Landry, FLA: Did not play.
Playoff Totals: 9 GP, 1-2-3, +5, 5 PIM
Season Totals: 35 GP, 2-7-9, +5, 10 PIM
D Sebastien Piche, FLA: 0-1-1, +1, 0 SOG, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 16 GP, 2-8-10, +9, 38 PIM
Season Totals: 15 GP, 3-6-9, +1, 41 PIM
D Kevin Quick, FLA: Did not play.
Playoff Totals: 14 GP, 1-3-4, +1, 10 PIM
Season Totals: 33 GP, 0-10-10, -6, 4 PIM (Norfolk property)
G Pat Nagle, FLA: Did not play (backup)
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 4-1-0, 1.42 GAA, .941 sv%, 2 SO
Season Totals: 39 GP, 20-14-0-3, 2.87 GAA, .905 sv%, 1 SO

Former QMJHL (Baie-Comeau, Moncton) star Matt Marquardt (pictured) scored at 13:49 of overtime to lift the Florida Everblades to a 4-3 home win over Las Vegas in Game 3 of the Kelly Cup Finals. Florida now leads the best-of-7 series, 2-1. Lightning prospect Sebastien Piche earned the primary assist on Justin Shugg’s game-tying goal with under four minutes left in regulation. Charles Landry and Kevin Quick were healthy scratches for the second straight game. Pat Nagle sat backup to John Muse, who stopped 32 of 35 shots. Game 4 is not until Tuesday night in southwest Florida.

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