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Game Preview: Stingrays at Everblades, January 27 at 7:30 PM

GAME PREVIEW: SC Stingrays at Florida Everblades

January 27, 2023 | Hertz Arena | 7:30 PM
Broadcast Info: Watch live on FloHockey | Listen via Mixlr & Caps Radio 24/7
Radio pre-game coverage starts at 7:15 p.m.
Complete Stingrays Game Notes

The South Carolina Stingrays continue their 2022-23 campaign as they take on the Florida Everblades for game two of three this week in Estero. Despite the loss on Wednesday, there are four big points on the line remaining this weekend that could set the tone for the second half of the season.

The Stingrays climbed back from a two-goal deficit with Kevin O’Neil’s 13th goal of the season in his return from the AHL and Tarek Baker’s fifth tally of the year in his second game off the IR. Florida netted the go-ahead goal with nearly six and a half minutes left in regulation and held on for the 3-2 victory to open the three-game series in Estero.

The two teams have faced off a total of 227 times since the Everblades' inaugural season (1998-1999) and are at a near deadlock. The Stingrays are 99-103-25 against the reigning Kelly Cup Champions after falling in the first three battles by a combined five goals. The two teams will face off a total of seven more times this season with the next five taking place in Estero before returning to the North Charleston Coliseum to close out the series.

The first goal scored has been a tell-tale sign for the Stingrays this season, earning 90.9% of the possible points when they score first. In games where the Stingrays must play from behind, they have only earned 41.7% of possible points. The Everblades aren’t far behind, going 15-1-1-1 when they net the first goal of the contest. In three low-scoring, goaltender duels, the first goal might just be the most important goal of the game.

Despite trailing the season series 3-0, the Stingrays have been at the doorstep of victory in each contest. South Carolina has outshot Florida 112-75, only scoring five goals in the series. The Stingrays need to keep a positive mindset, especially with Florida goaltender Cam Johnson being recalled to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. This leaves Evan Fitzpatrick fresh off the injured reserve and Trevor Gorsuch who has bounced around predominantly the ECHL and SPHL in his career. The Stingrays look to strike against either of the new tandem netminders tonight and get back to their winning ways.

Kevin O’Neil has been in and out of the Stingrays organization this season, earning three professional tryout contracts in the AHL with the Hershey Bears and most recently with the Colorado Eagles. O’Neil has one goal in three games at the AHL level and is nearly a point per game with the Stingrays in 27 games this year. The forward’s last three games have been against the Everblades, and he leads the Stingrays with two goals and an assist in those contests, riding a three-game point streak into tonight’s game.

Upcoming 5-Game Schedule.
South Carolina at Florida – Saturday, January 28 at 7:00 p.m.
South Carolina at Worcester – Friday, February 3 at 7:05 p.m.
South Carolina at Worcester – Saturday, February 4 at 7:05 p.m.
South Carolina at Worcester – Sunday, February 5 at 3:05 p.m.
South Carolina at Savannah – Thursday, February 9 at 7:00 p.m.

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