A great start couldn’t turn into a good finish for the Newfoundland Growlers Wednesday night as they lost 5-4 to the visiting Florida Everblades in Game 3 of their ECHL Eastern Conference final at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.
The result leaves the Growlers with a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Games 4 and 5 set for Friday and Saturday nights at Mile One.
On Wednesday, before a healthy crowd of just over 4,800, the Growlers scored on their first shot on goal when Scott OPooley rushed down the right side and sneaked a shot past Florida netminder Callum Booth. However, even though Newfoundland showed plenty of jump in the early going, it couldn’t produce a follow-up tally in the opening period. Instead, the Everblades rattled off three straight goals to go up 3-1 after 20 minutes.
An exchange of goals in the first half of the second period meant Florida maintained its two-goal lead until Pooley scored again at 12:34 of the frame to bring Newfoundland to within one heading into the third.
The Growlers started the final period on the power play and made the most of it when Giorgio Estephan redirected a passs from Marcus Power behind Booth.
But any thoughts of Newfoundland completing the comeback — or of the game heading into overtime — were ended by Blake Winiecki’s goal, his second of the contest, with just over three minutes remaining in the game. Growlers’ netminder Michael Garteig stopped the initial shot from Michael Downing at the point, but a wide-open Winiecki made no mistake with the resulting rebound.
The Growlers got a late power play and pulled Garteig for an even greater advantage in skaters, but despite some furious action around Booth, couldn’t come up with another equalizer.
Brad Ferguson had the other goal for the Growlers, while Matt Finn and Michael Neville were Florida’s other scorers.