ECHL Recap: South Carolina Stingrays vs. Florida Everblades | 02/17-18/2024

Bernie Walls/InsideTheRink

The South Carolina Stingrays were back in action in the Charleston Coliseum for Star Wars night to take on the Florida Everblades, one of their toughest division rivals. The Stingrays are coming off a huge 7-0 road win in Greenville, where Jonny Evans had a hat trick, and Mitch Gibson recorded another shootout.

The first period was off to a slow start between the clubs, with little action in the first half of the period. The Stingrays would do what they do best, shoot the puck on David Tendeck, but would not dominate possession. The Rays would outshoot the Blades 12-4 in the period and would finally get a man advantage to end the period and start the second when Cole Mobert would be called for a slash with 47 seconds left in the period.

The second period would be delayed by a few minutes due to a panel of glass needing to be replaced near the Everblades bench. A frustrated player had slashed the glass coming back to the bench, causing it to crack. With the second period finally underway due to the timeliness of the Stingrays staff, Florida would kill the remaining period and would go on a man advantage as Jon McDonald would be hauled to the box, only to have Austin Magera join him not long after. Bjorklund and the Stingrays would hold off the Everblades again to kill both of the penalties with ease. Luke Santerno would get Florida on the board first as Joe Pendaza and Oliver Chau maneuvered past Bjorklund.

Jack Adams would light up the lamp not long after on a power play goal as he snuck one past Tendeck on a shot from Nicky Leivermann. The ice started to heat up, as Thrower and Hunt both threw the mits down for Kyle Neuber, earning unsportsmanlike conducts across the board. This would give Brett Davis the opportunity to put Florida up by one, as he scored on Bjorklund. Three minutes later, Oliver Chau found Santurno to bury another one in the net, putting the Everblades up 3-1 going into the third period.

The Stingrays would need a big third period to help the two-goal deficient going into the last twenty minutes of play. They continued to struggle with turnovers and penalties as Jackson Leppard would head to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct a little over halfway into the period. Garin Bjorklund would head to the bench with 2:30 remaining, and the Everblades would capitalize on this with 48 seconds left. The Stingrays continued to lay shots on Tendeck, leaving the ice with 40 shots compared to the 18 on Bjorklund, but it wouldn’t be enough.

2/18

The Stingrays picked up where they left off on Sunday for another round of hockey against the Everblades. It would truly be a battle of the goalies, with Mitchell Gibson going up against Cam Johnson, who helped lead the Everblades to a Kelly Cup last season.

Starting off the first period was Jonny Evans taking on Zach Uens on a nice little tilt three minutes into the period. Evans held his own in the fight, marking his first on the season and his career. The penalties continued to rack up, giving the Stingrays three more-man advantages during the period, but could not capitalize on the opportunity. The Rays did hold them to only four shots in the period.

The second period heated up with Benton Maass being hauled into the box for holding, but Kevin O’Neil had a breakaway opportunity. Ivan Lodnia would draw first blood on Florida 13 seconds into a holding minor on Evan Nause.

The action would really pick up in the third period when Benton Maasssentd a rocket from the blue line that soared past Johnson, putting the Rays up 2-0. Michael Kim and Nathan Staios would both be sent to the doghouse for roughing, having both clubs convert to 4-4. Mark Senden would sneak one past Mitch Gibson 19 seconds later to finally put the Everblades on the board.

With less than three minutes left in the game, Kevin O’Neil would head to the penalty box for a minor, as the Everblades would pull Johnson for the 6-4. It was no match for Ryan Leibold though, as he snuck past the defenseman and buried one, to seal the deal for South Carolina. Cam Darcy didn’t agree with the call and argued with the referees, earning him an unsportsmanlike minor and misconduct. With two seconds remaining, Tyson Empey would also head to the box for roughing, but it would not be enough time for an Everblades comeback, making the Stingrays victorious. South Carolina will be back in action on Wednesday for Education Day bright and early for the local school kids to enjoy a game.

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