It was only a matter of time before Jeff Jakaitis looked human, because for the first three months of the season, the South Carolina Stingrays goalie has turned in a superhuman effort.
Greenville Road Warrior at South Carolina Stingrays
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: North Charleston Coliseum
Season series: Stingrays lead, 5-1-1
Evan Bloodoff scored two goals and Brad Phillips stopped all 39 shots he faced to lead the Gladiators past the Stingrays, 4-0, Friday night before a crowd of 3,160 at the North Charleston.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Stingrays, who dropped to 23-6-3 (49 points) on the season. The Gladiators, who have handed the Stingrays four of their six losses this season, improved to 11-19-2 (24 points).
Earlier in the day, Jakaitis was named the ECHL Goalie of the Month, for going 6-0-0 during the month of December. Jakaitis, who had two shutouts in December, gave up just seven goals in those six starts with a .966 save percentage.
It was Jakaitis' first loss in regulation since dropping a 4-1 decision to Florida back on Nov. 16. Jakaitis has been 11-0-1 since that loss to the Everblades.
While Jakaitis didn't have his best night, the fault lay mainly with the 16 skaters in front of him, said Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery.
"I thought Jeff made some big saves for us early in the game, especially in the first period," Carbery said. "You can't blame Jeff Jakaitis for what happened out there tonight. That's not on him. The guys in front of him, the 16 skaters, were not very good. I don't think there was one guy who played up to their potential tonight."
Despite generating 39 shots, the Stingrays couldn't figure out Phillips, who got his first shutout of the season. It was the first time this season the Stingrays have not scored a goal.
"We had good energy to start the game, but we were not executing even some of the simplest plays out there," Carbery said. "A veteran team that's been around the league would have figured that out and kind of simplify their game. We didn't do that. It was a humbling game for us and hopefully the guys understand that we have to come out and play better against Greenville. Nothing is going to be handed to us."
The Stingrays had seven power play opportunities, but failed to convert on the man advantage. The Stingrays are just 2 of 39 over the last 12 games on the power play.
"We've got to change things up or get some different personnel out there," Carbery said. "We're passing the puck when we should be shooting and we're shooting it when we should be passing. We had the No. 1 power play in the league after the first month of the season, but we've been just anemic here the last month or so."
Hootie and the Blowfish co-founder and Charleston native Darius Rucker will sing the national anthem before the Stingrays' home game at 7 p.m. Saturday against Greenville. The first 2,000 fans will receive a Rucker bobblehead.