Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe what transpired Monday night between the South Carolina Stingrays and Florida Everblades.
There were controversial calls from referee Curtis Marouelli throughout the game. There was a hotly disputed Everblades goal in the second period. There was a penalty shot awarded to the Everblades with 2.3 seconds left in regulation, and there was a potential game-tying goal by Florida goal that was waved off as the final horn sounded.
Other than that, it was just a typical Monday night at the North Charleston Coliseum between two of the league’s oldest and fiercest rivals.
Overshadowing all of the controversy was a dramatic comeback from the Stingrays, who rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat Florida, 4-3, before a crowd of 1,425 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays improved to 29-21-2
(60 points) and moved within a point of second-place Greenville. The Everblades fell to 23-21-6 (52 points).
“It was one for the books,” said Stingrays captain Matt Scherer. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been a part of a game like that.”
The game had a little bit of everything, but in the end, the Stingrays showed a resiliency that had not been on display in a while.
“It was a gigantic win for us,” said Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery. “To outplay them like we did and not to get any points out of the game would have been demoralizing. It was a huge character win for the guys in that locker room.”
The Stingrays dominated the game from the opening faceoff, outshooting the Everblades, 46-24, but somehow found themselves trailing 2-0 midway through the second period.
“We were all over them, and then we kind of relaxed and all of a sudden we’re down 2-0,” Scherer said. “That was a tough pill to swallow.”
Things went from bad to worse when Florida defenseman Mike Ratchuk scored a short-handed goal with 10:27 left in the second period to make it a 3-0 game. The goal came after the Stingrays’ net was knocked off its moorings. The net had been knocked off its pegs for at least 30 seconds before Ratchuk’s goal. Stingrays goalie Philipp Grubauer pointed at the net and tried to get the attention of the two linesmen and Marouelli. Grubauer then shoved the net away from the crease, but Marouelli let the play continue and Ratchuk scored.
“I moved the net because I wanted them to see it was off,” Grubauer said. “They came down and scored, and I said something to (Marouelli), but he said the goal counted because we had knocked the net off.”
Carbery lost his composure on the bench.
“It was the wrong call, and I was upset,” Carbery said. “I probably need to do a better job of keeping my composure, but that call cost us a goal.”
Scherer started the comeback with a nasty wrist shot over the glove of Florida goalie Shane Owen with less than two minutes left in the second period to make it a 3-1 game going into the final period.
The Stingrays regrouped during the second intermission and scored the final three goals of the game.
Campbell scored on a beautiful one-timer three minutes into the third period to cut the gap to 3-2.
Then Zach Tarkir’s power-play goal tied the game at 3 with 12:13 left in regulation.
Lacroix got the game-winner less than three minutes later when he back-handed home his own rebound to give the Stingrays a 4-3 advantage.
“(Owen) had been given some pretty big rebounds, and we just had to get to the front of the net,” Lacroix said.
But the game and the controversy were far from over. The Stingrays again knocked the net off its moorings with 2.3 seconds left in regulation as the Everblades were awarded a penalty shot.
“Actually that was the correct call,” Carbery said. “You knock the net off in the final two minutes, and it’s a penalty shot.”
Grubauer forced Florida’s David Rutherford wide of the net as his shot sailed over the cross bar on the penalty shot.
But the Stingrays’ night still wasn’t done.
The Everblades won the faceoff and got a shot on net that crossed the goal line, but Marouelli ruled the goal came after the final horn as the Stingrays held on for the victory.
“I think the fans definitely got their money’s worthy tonight,” Scherer said. “This is the kind of win that will hopefully get us going again.”
Florida 0 3 0– 3
Stingrays 0 1 3– 4
First Period: No goals. Penalties: Galiardi, F (slashing), 6:02; Stevenson, SC (roughing), 6:02; Irwin, F (hooking), 8:07; Hutchings, F (roughing), 19:08; Kroll, SC (roughing), 19:08.
Second Period: 1. F, Landry 1 (Beca, Irwin), :43. 2. F, Roy 14 (Hutchings, Fischer), 7:11. 3. SC, Ratchuk 17 (Galiardi), 9:33. 4. SC, Scherer 5 (Turnbull, Keller), 18:08. Penalties: Kroll, SC (cross checking), 4;13; Stevenson, SC (high sticking, 10-minute misconduct), 5:48; Landry, F (hooking), 7:59; Lacroix, SC (hooking), 11:21; Marquardt. F (slashing), 11:43; Irwin, F (holding), 13:33; Irwin, F (slashing), 16:10; Lacroix, SC (roughing), 16:10; Fischer, F (holding), 18:48.
Third Period: Penalties: Hutchings, F (hooking), 4:20; Bruess, F (tripping), 5:59; Galiardi, F (roughing), 6:29; Lacroix, SC (tripping), 7:20; Kroll, SC (hooking), 11:08; Keller, SC (slashing), 18:22; Hutchings, F (slashing), 19:57; Kroll, SC (slashing), 19:57.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 18-12-16-46; Florida:8-11-5-24. Penalties: Stingrays 11-30. Florida 13-34. Power Play: Stingrays 1 for 7; Florida 1 for 6. Goalies: Stingrays – Philipp Grubauer (19-11-2) 24 shots, 21 saves. Florida – Shane Owen (7-8-4) 46 shots, 42 saves. Att: 1,425.