ESTERO, FL – The South Carolina Stingrays (33-18-4-1) posted five goals on the Florida Everblades (31-17-4-4) in a 5-2 defeat on Friday evening at Hertz Arena.
South Carolina took a 1-0 lead at the 7:20 mark of the opening stanza as Kevin O’Neil found the back of the net for his 17th goal of the season. On the man advantage, O’Neil sniped a shot over the blocker of Cam Johnson for the early lead.
Ryan Scarfo doubled the lead 26 seconds later as he flipped a shot under the blocker of Johnson. Scarfo collected the loose puck and shoveled the puck past the Florida netminder for the 2-0 lead.
Over halfway into the middle frame, Anthony Del Gaizo struck for his 13th marker of the year. Del Gaizo fought a loose puck past a flurry of defenders to expand the South Carolina advantage to three goals at the 12:33 mark of the second period.
With time winding down in the middle stanza, Lawton Courtnall deflected a puck over the glove of Johnson for the 4-0 advantage. Wardley fed Courtnall between the circles where the forward redirected the shot past the goaltender with 29 seconds remaining.
Bear Hughes closed out the period with under three seconds left on the clock to beat a sprawling netminder. Hughes one-timed a pass from Wilkins into the back of the net for his team-leading 20th tuck of the year for the 5-0 lead at the end of two periods.
Evan Fitzpatrick relieved Johnson at the start of the third period and Florida rallied around their new netminder with a pair of goals beginning with Jake Smith’s power play tally at the 7:48 mark. Smith fired a one-timer from the left circle that snuck past Tyler Wall for the first goal of the contest.
Stefan Leblanc added the second Everblades’ goal of the match with 5:25 left in regulation as he flipped a shot over the glove of Wall. Leblanc shed his defender and ended up in front of the net, crossing through the crease for the marker. Wall stopped 33 total shots in the game to earn his 13th win of the season.
The Stingrays return to Hertz Arena tomorrow, March 11th to complete a three-game series against the Florida Everblades beginning at 7:00 p.m.
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