Estero, FL – The South Carolina Stingrays scored two goals in the final 2:30 minutes of the game, but were unable to get the equalizer before time expired as the Florida Everblades tied up the best-of-seven game series at one game apiece with a 4-3 win.
“I like the way we competed up until the end of the game,” said Head Coach Jared Bednar. “There were parts of the game that I obviously was not happy with, but we split the series and now need to get ready to play hard at home.”
It was a feisty and physical first period of play between the Rays and Blades at Germain Arena. Altogether, each team got penalized five times resulting in three power plays for each team, none resulting in any scoring. In fact, through the first 20 minutes, there was no scoring at all, the result of a tight checking frame from both teams.
The Rays struck first in the second period getting the 1-0 lead on Pierre-Luc O’Brien’s second goal of the post season. After goalie Jonathan Boutin turned aside a flurry of Everblade chances, O’Brien got the puck from Trent Campbell and was off to the races. O’Brien brought the puck in the zone and fired a shot from the top of the near side circle beating David Leggio to the glove side. The goal came at 2:04 and was assisted by Campbell. The lead would be short lived as Kevin Baker, the regular season scoring champ, got his second playoff goal jamming it through the five-hole of Boutin to tie the game up at one, at 3:23. Less than two minutes later, at 5:14, the Blades got another power play tally, giving them their first lead of the series. The goal came off a rebound which found its way onto the stick of Mathieu Roy who hammered home to give Florida the 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
Florida came out and got two more goals early in the third period to increase their lead to 4-1. At 2:08 of the period Andrew Sweetland and Jonathan Paiement came in on a two on one. Sweetland rather than dishing the puck slid it in past Boutin to make it a 3-1 game. At 7:45 it was Milan Gajic tacking one on for Florida. Gajic worked the puck off the near side boards and made his way to the top of the slot where he fired a shot through traffic to make it a 4-1 game. Late in the period the Rays got on the comeback trail. At 17:32 of the period O’Brien notched his second goal of the game, his third of the playoffs to make it a 4-2 game. The goal was assisted by Johann Kroll and Campbell. At 17:56 the Rays went on the power play after Doug O’Brien was called for an interference minor. The Rays pulled Boutin and while skating six on four and Nate Kiser took advantage. Kiser got his first goal of the playoffs at 19:01 on a bomb of a shot from the near side point. The Rays pulled their goalie again and had another couple of chances to tie things up before the game came to a conclusion.
The winning goaltender was Leggio who stopped 18 of the 21 shots he faced. The losing goaltender was Boutin who stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced. The Rays went 1-5 on the power play while Florida went 2-10 on the man-advantage.
The Rays will be back in action on Friday night, as they return home to the comfy confines of the North Charleston Coliseum to take on the Everblades for Game three. Game time will be at 7:05. If you can’t make it out to the game, you can catch all the action by tuning in to Sports Radio 1450 with the Benitos Pre-game show beginning at 6:50.
South Carolina Stingrays 3 at Florida Everblades 4 - Status: Unofficial Final
Apr 25, 2009 - Germain Arena