North Charleston, SC- It was not a great start for the Rays in their quest for the Kelly Cup. To start the opening period, Josh Wilkins would take a slashing major and a slashing misconduct six minutes into his first game back while the Everblades walked away with a cross-checking minor from the altercation. Wilkins would not return to the game, as four-on-four play was aplenty during Game 1.
The Everglades were the first to strike two minutes into the power play as Sean Josling was able to sneak past Tyler Wall. Josling would make it past Wall once more as the time for the penalties winded down, making it 2-0 with half of the period remaining. This is Josling’s fourth goal against Wall since the teams’ last meeting on April 8th. Tyler Irvine would extend the Everblades’ lead to three late in the first period, and the Rays would leave the period unable to answer back.
The second period was no better for the Rays, as they opened the period on the penalty kill for the first 19 seconds. The play went back to four on four three minutes into the period as Ty Thorpe and Ben Masella were both hauled into the box for roughing. Both teams were able to keep the score the same as they came back to full strength. The four-on-four player resumed later in the period, ending in a goal for Ashton Calder, putting the Everglades up by five.
In the third period, the Stingrays continued to attempt to get something past Cam Johnson, putting a whopping 17 shots on goal, more than they had in the first two periods, but nothing was sticking. Linemates Anthony Del Gaizo and Tyler Thorpe combined eight shots, and the blue line combo of Michael Kim and Conner Moore also put eight shots on Johnson, but still, nothing got through the Kelly Cup Champ for Florida.
Cam Johnson stopped all 35 shots he faced tonight, putting the Everblades up early in the series. Game two will take place on Monday, April 24th, at the North Charleston Coliseum, where the Stingrays look to even the series before hitting the road for a three-game trip to Florida.