NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Stingrays scored three straight times in the first seven minutes of the second period and held on to their lead for the rest of the night to defeat the Florida Everblades 4-2 and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the Kelly Cup Playoff series on Wednesday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Four different goal scorers paced the Rays, including Steven McParland, Domenic Monardo, Rob Flick and Kelly Zajac, while goaltender Parker Milner made 28 saves to earn the victory in between the pipes.
The Stingrays are undefeated at home during this year’s playoff run, improving to 5-0 with Wednesday’s victory.
Neither team was able to find the net in the first period. The squads entered the first intermission in a scoreless tie after one frame.
McParland struck first at 1:36 of the second off a two-on-one with forward Derek Arnold. After John Parker broke the puck out of the Stingrays end with a pass off the near wall, Arnold played give-and-go with McParland and fed one to the rookie in front for a quick shot that got by Florida netminder Anthony Peters to make it 1-0 Rays.
Soon after it was Monardo who was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked while moving in alone on a breakaway. The forward made a confident move with the puck on his forehand and beat Peters below the glove to give South Carolina a 2-0 advantage at 3:02 of the second.
Flick made it 3-0 by scoring on a 2-on-0 rush at 6:47 of the middle period off a pass from Monardo. Defenseman Wade Epp was credited with the second assist on the play, giving him seven points during the postseason.
The tally was Flick’s seventh during the playoffs, which leads the team. The forward is also tied with Monardo for the team scoring lead in the 10 postseason games, each with 12 points.
After making a goaltending change and replacing Peters with Alex Nedeljkovic, Florida was able to get back in the game with two goals of their own from John McCarron at 12:38 and Dalton Smith at 16:39. The Everblades had cut the score to 3-2 at the end of the second period and had new life moving to the third.
But South Carolina stepped up their defensive game and shut the door in the final frame, closing down their third victory of the series. Milner turned aside all 10 shots the Everblades mustered in the third period, including a few good chances in the waning moments when Florida had Nedeljkovic pulled for an extra attacker.
Zajac sealed the victory for the Rays by scoring a short-handed empty net goal with just 17 seconds remaining for his fourth tally of the postseason. The forward shot the puck the length of the ice from his own zone and into the gaping cage to make it 4-2. Andrew Cherniwchan was given the only assist on the final strike of the night.
The Stingrays held Florida to a 0-for-2 mark on the power play in the contest and did not receive a power play of their own in the game. Peters finished 26:47 of playing time by making nine saves, while Nedeljkovic turned aside 12 shots in 31:19.
The series continues Thursday night with Game 5 at the North Charleston Coliseum at 7:05 p.m.