NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - Leigh Salters and David Fischer each acjoeved three-point nights as the Florida Everblades won their sixth straight game, defeating the South Carolina Stingrays 6-3 Saturday evening.
The teams started with a great flow and tempo as the first whistle didn't sound until 4:36 of the opening frame. That's exactly when Matt Beca scored his 10th goal of the season to give the Everblades the early 1-0 lead. Scott Pitt fed the puck in the slot, and Beca settled the bouncing puck and flipped a backhanded shot high over the glove of Stingrays goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
The game presented an intriguing special teams matchup as the Everblades' top-ranked power-play unit went against the Stingrays' number-one-ranked penalty kill. The Rays won the first battle, but the Blades converted on its second chance at 14:13 of the first period. Rylan Galiardi rifled a wrist shot off the pad of Grubauer which deflected into the net for the goal. The Blades took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Blades maintained the two-goal edge for most of the second period. They added to the lead scoring two goals in a 1:02 span in the final minutes of the middle frame. Mathieu Roy sent a cross-ice pass to Kyle Lawson who blasted the puck into the net for the goal to make the score 3-0. The goal was the first of the season for Lawson.
Moments later, Kory Falite scored his first goal of the season, and first as an Everblade, after picking up the puck off a rebound on the short-side post, lifting it high into the net to extend the lead to 4-0.
South Carolina got on the board with 59 seconds remaining in the second as Maxime Lacroix fired the puck past Blades goaltender Pat Nagle to trim the lead to 4-1 after two periods. The goal was the first for the Stingrays in nearly 11 periods of hockey, dating back to December 20 in a 4-3 decision over Gwinnett.
The Blades continued on the assault in the third, scoring for a second time on the power play. Leigh Salters brought the puck from the corner and backhanded a shot from a tough angle at the crease to give the Blades a 5-1 lead.
The Stingrays' Joe Pereira scored at 7:56 of the period, but that was quelled by Scott Pitt's wrist shot from the circle nearly seven minutes later to give the Blades a 6-2 lead. Pierre-Luc O'Brien scored a short-handed goal in the game's final moments to make it a three-goal game, but it was not enough.
Pat Nagle earns his sixth straight victory stopping 29 of 32 shots, while Grubauer suffers the loss allowing six goals on 30 shots. The win pulls the Everblades within one point of first place Gwinnett in the South Division.
The Everblades return home for a few days off, then hit the road for a pair of games at Gwinnett Friday and Saturday.