Stingrays fall behind early, can't come back against EverBlades

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - The Florida Everblades (24-6-1-2) scored four times in the first period to take control of Saturday afternoon's game and defeated the South Carolina Stingrays (20-8-3-1) by a final score of 5-3 at the North Charleston Coliseum.

Forwards Steven Whitney and Kelly Zajac each had two points in the contest for the Stingrays, while goaltender Adam Carlson played well in a 54-minute relief effort with 27 saves.

It was a first period to forget for South Carolina, who allowed four goals on Florida's first five shots of the game. Early goals were scored by Joe Cox at 38 seconds, Zack Kamrass at 3:21, Nelson Armstrong at 4:43 and Tyler Ganly at 5:09.

The Stingrays got on the board at 8:53 of the opening frame when Whitney scored his 11th goal of the year from Zajac and defenseman Frankie Simonelli.

South Carolina got one step closer at 4-2 when defenseman Tommy Hughes scored the only tally of the second period at 11:52, slapping a shot past goaltender Callum Booth off a nice pass by forward Tim McGauley. Whitney also factored into the goal, picking up the second assist on the play after getting the puck down low to McGauley.

But the third period wasn't kind to the Rays, who failed to get any closer during the final frame. Nolan LaPorte scored an unassisted goal to make it 5-2 Florida at 12:07, the only shot to get by Carlson in the game.

Joe Devin got on the board in the final minute, putting the puck into the net off a feed from Zajac at 19:33. Devin's 10th goal of the season also came with a second assist by Paul Geiger.

The Everblades finished the game with a 1-for-4 mark on the power play, while South Carolina was 0-for-4 on the man-advantage. Booth picked up the win for Florida, stopping 20 shots. Goaltender Parker Milner started the game for the Stingrays and allowed the first four goals of the game, making one save.

Florida outshot South Carolina 33-23 in the game, earning a split of the weekend series between the two teams in North Charleston.

South Carolina is back in action on Tuesday night when they host the Norfolk Admirals at 7:05 p.m.

-per South Carolina Stingrays