The South Carolina Stingrays (20-7-3-1) scored three times in the first period and never looked back, taking down the South Division leading Florida Everblades (23-5-1-2) 5-2 on Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Three forwards had multi-point nights for the Rays, including Steven Whitney who tallied a goal and two assists along with Dylan Margonari and Joe Devin, who each had a goal and an assist. Goaltender Parker Milner made the start and stopped 23 shots to earn the victory.
Mitchell Heard got the Everblades out in front first, scoring at 6:16 of the opening period to make it 1-0.
But South Carolina responded quickly when forward Steven Whitney took a pass from linemate Kelly Zajac and beat goaltender Martin Ouellette blocker side to tie the game at 1-1 with his 10th goal of the year. A second assist was given to defenseman Joey Leach on the play which came at 7:54 of the first.
Dylan Margonari gave the Stingrays the lead at 12:07, scoring in his return to the team after being returned on loan by the Hershey Bears earlier in the day. Team captain Joe Devin got the Greensburg, Pa. native the puck in the middle of the offensive zone and Margonari did the rest, beating Ouellette with a wrist shot up high to make it 2-1 with his 9th of the season.
Then after a penalty to Matt Mackenzie for an illegal check to the head sparked a fight between him and Margonari, the Rays made it 3-1 when Cammarata struck for his eighth goal of the season at 15:47. The rookie swept home a loose rebound in the crease and assists were credited to Whitney and defenseman Frankie Simonelli.
After a scoreless second period, Devin broke through on the power play at 4:52 from Margonari and Geiger. The second man-advantage goal of the game for South Carolina made it 4-1 and gave Devin his team-leading 25th point of the season.
Stephen MacAuley got the Everblades closer at 4-2 with a tally at 6:57 of the third, but Patrick Gaul provided a quick response for the Stingrays and SC re-took a 3-goal advantage at 10:20.
Gaul’s marker came from Patrick Megannety and Whitney, who found Gaul wide open in front of the Florida net. The Pittsburgh, Pa. native now has 10 goals on the season, his sixth with the Rays.
South Carolina also won the special teams battle, going 2-for-6 on the power play as well as holding Florida to 0-for-5 on their man-advantage. The Everblades outshot the Stingrays 25-22 in the game, with Ouellette making 17 saves in a losing effort.
The two teams meet for the fifth time this season on Saturday afternoon at the North Charleston Coliseum at 3:05 p.m.
-per South Carolina Stingrays