Rays Top Florida 5-3 to Win Fifth Straight GameFeb 27, 2016
02/27/2016 9:59 PM -
ESTERO, F.L.-The momentum swung each direction multiple times, but in the end, it was the the South Carolina Stingrays who were victorious Saturday evening. Three goals from defenseman helped the Stingrays (32-17-4-2) defeat the Florida Everblades (34-17-0-2) 5-3 at the Germain Arena. The victory pulled the Stingrays even with Florida at 70 points, tying them for the top spot in the South Division.
The first period saw the two teams combine for five goals on just 11 total shots. South Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 5:37 of the game. Wade Epp scored his fourth goal of the season at 4:38 to open the scoring. The defender's shot from the blue line beat a screened netminder Rasmus Tirronen. Patrick Gaul, celebrating his 26th birthday, and Jared Staal assisted.
Only 59 seconds later, David Pacan scored a highlight-reel goal. His 18th tally of the season came on a great individual effort. The forward collected the puck in neutral ice and cut around a Florida defender on the left wing. He made a power move to the net, and cut around Tirronen, firing a shot past his left pad to make it 2-0.
Florida would march back with three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead at the end of the first period. Carter Sandlack beat South Carolina goaltender Vitek Vanecek on a tap-in at 9:59, then Brant Harris would roof a shot over Vanecek's glove at 14:22 on the power play to make it 2-2. At 16:05, Gabriel Desjardins would give the Everblades the lead, swatting a rebound past Vanecek to make it 3-2 Florida.
The game slowed in the second period, but the Stingrays would regain the lead in the middle frame. Stephan Vigier extended his point streak to seven games with a goal at 12:03 to tie the game, 3-3. A delayed penalty saw the Stingrays work the puck into the Florida offensive zone. Joey Leach sent a pass to Vigier on the right wing. The forward's one-time shot beat Tirronen over the glove. The goal was Vigier's 19th of the season, tying him with Brett Cameron for the team lead.
Four minutes later, defenseman Nick D'Agostino would score the game-winning goal for South Carolina via a turnover. Stingrays forward Kelly Zajac picked-off a Florida clearing pass. He fed Joe Devin in front of the goal. The forward waited for D'Agostino to join the rush and chipped a pass across to the right wing. D'Agostino's one-time shot connected for his second goal of the season to make it 4-3 Stingrays at 16:16.
While goals came fast and furious, Vanecek came up with his biggest stop of the night on a penalty shot late in the second period. He denied Rob Florentino's bid to tie the game at 17:59.
The third period would see Vanecek leave the game after taking a shot to the mask, and Mark Dekanich finished the game in relief, stopping all five Florida shots he faced.
Epp would secure the win with his second goal of the game, scoring into an empty net at 19:32 to give South Carolina a 5-3 win.
The victory was the Stingrays fifth straight and second straight win over Florida. The two teams meet again tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Germain Arena. A victory would move South Carolina into sole possession of first place in the South Division. The game can be viewed on ECHL.tv and heard with the Voice of the Rays, Zack Fisch, via Mixlr at mixlr.com/scstingrayshockey.
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