ESTERO, FL - In his 300th career ECHL game, all coming with the South Carolina Stingrays (15-4-3-1), Patrick Gaul scored a late goal in the third period to give his team a 4-2 victory over the Florida Everblades (18-3-1-2) at Germain Arena on Wednesday night.
Defenseman Joey Leach also scored twice in the game for the Stingrays, while Parker Milner stopped 25 shots to record the win over Florida, who had the best overall record in the ECHL at the start of the night.
South Carolina scored the first tally of the night at 9:38 when Leach beat goaltender Callum Booth with a shot over the glove to the right side of the net for his second goal in as many games. The defender found a loose puck at the top of the crease and put it on net, getting help from some traffic in front to make it 1-0. Assists on the goal went to were credited to forward Tim McGauley and defenseman Paul Geiger.
The lead was extended to 2-0 with just 15 seconds remaining in the opening period when Joe Devin knocked home a rebound for his eighth goal of the season off an initial shot by Taylor Cammarata. Devin was left unmarked on the left side of the net and the rebound came right to his stick. The captain leads the team with 20 points this season. A second assist on the play was given to defenseman Frankie Simonelli.
Cammarata has now scored points in eight consecutive games and has 14 points on six goals and eight assists in his first 11 career contests.
Florida cut the Rays' lead to 2-1 at 8:26 of the second period on a goal by Steven Lorentz and tied the game at 7:11 of the third period on a shot by forward Justin Kea, evening the contest at 2-2.
But Gaul got South Carolina back in front with his eighth goal of the year at 13:01 of the final frame, also finding a rebound at the side of the net and punching it past Booth. Patrick Megannety had the first chance and blasted a shot that went off the crossbar and stayed out of the net before Gaul pounced on the rebound. Nick Roberto was credited with the second assist on the eventual game-winner for SC that made it 3-2.
In the final minutes of the game, the Everblades pulled Booth for an extra attacker in an attempt to even the score. Leach got control of the puck behind his own net and fired the biscuit all the way down to the empty net at the other end to seal a victory for South Carolina, 4-2.
The Everblades outshot South Carolina 27-21 in the contest, while both teams were unsuccessful on the power play. Florida was 0-for-3 and the Stingrays finished 0-for-4 on the man-advantage. Booth made 17 saves in a losing effort for the Everblades.
The Stingrays now have 34 points and sit in second place in the South Division standings. South Carolina and Florida continue their 3-game series on Friday night at Germain Arena at 7:30 p.m.