Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | 8:54 p.m.
The Wranglers rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals, but Florida’s Brandon MacLean scored the game-winning goal 4:54 into the extra session to hand the Everblades their first Kelly Cup.
After the Wranglers took Game 1 of the championship series at home, the Everblades won four consecutive games, including two in overtime, to secure the team’s first ECHL title.
Florida took the opening lead of the game on a goal from Justin Shugg at the 12:07 mark of the first period. Shugg collected a cross ice pass from Matt Beca and beat Joe Fallon for his seventh goal of the postseason.
The Everblades added to their lead late in the first period on a rebound goal from Mike Ratchuk. Fallon made a pad save on a Matt Marquardt shot and the puck squirted out in front of the net, where Ratchuk banged in the rebound for the goal.
The Wranglers trimmed their deficit in half at the 9:26 mark of the second period on an Ash Goldie blast from the slot that was set up by a Scott Campbell screen. Jeff May and Adam Miller were credited with assists on the goal.
Las Vegas tied the game less than a minute into the third period on a wraparound goal from Peter MacArthur. MacArthur caught Florida goaltender John Muse looking the other direction as he was able to squeeze the puck inside the right post for the equalizer.
Muse made up for the blunder late in the third period when he stoned Miller with a pad save on a breakaway chance that could have given the Wranglers the lead. Muse recorded 39 saves in regulation to help the Everblades force overtime.
Early in the sudden death frame, the Everblades took advantage of an odd man rush as Beca found MacLean for a one timer from the left-wing circle that beat Fallon for the franchise’s first Kelly Cup.
In front of a standing-room-only crowd of 7,290 fans at Germain Arena, the Everblades improved to 11-0 on their home ice in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Dating back to the regular season, the Everblades were 22-1-2 in their last 25 games at home.
Florida became the first team to clinch the Kelly Cup in overtime since the Peoria Rivermen accomplished the feat in 2000 against Louisiana.
This year’s Kelly Cup Finals marked the second time in franchise history the Wranglers advanced to the championship series. Las Vegas lost in six games to Cincinnati in the 2008 Finals.