Once or twice a season, South Carolina Stingrays goalie Jeff Jakaitis gets to show off his passing ability.
Jakaitis stopped 32 shots and picked up an assist on one of three South Carolina power-play goals as the Stingrays defeated the Florida Everblades, 4-2, Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 2,127 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, who snapped a two-game losing streak, improved to 20-21-4 (44 points) and moved into a tie for eighth place in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference. The Everblades fell to 20-4-7 (47 points).
Jakaitis, the reigning ECHL goalie of the year, has four assists in four seasons in the ECHL. In the second period against Florida, Jakaitis caught the Everblades making a change of personnel on the fly.
With a flick of his wrist, Jakaitis found Phil Mangan 100 feet down the ice behind the Everblades’ defense. Mangan found Ryan Hayes, who then had a highlight-reel goal, beating Florida netminder Pay Nagle for a 3-0 lead.
“I looked up the ice and saw Florida was making a change and had (Mangan) wide open,” Jakaitis said. “As a goalie, my job is to stop the puck, but once in a while you get to chip in offensively. It’s fun. I’m sure I’ll hear about it from the guys later on, but it’s fun to handle the puck once in a while.”
Of course, Jakaitis’ primary job is to stop the puck, and he did that equally as well, stopping 32 of 34 shots. Jakaitis, who stopped 23 of 24 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Everblades Saturday night, missed the second half of the last season with a knee injury.
“Every game Jeff plays, he seems to be getting stronger and stronger,” said Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery. “It seems like he has gotten better and better with each start. He deserved a better fate (Saturday night). He made some great saves, especially in the first period when Florida got 15 shots.”
The Stingrays’ power play, which had been struggling the last two weeks, converted on three of four chances Sunday.
“We changed some things up on the power play and I think we kept things simple today,” said Chris Langkow, who had a power-play goal in the second period. “We’d been trying to make the fancy play the last couple of weeks, and today we just got pucks to the net and went after the rebounds. It was good to finally get the power play going again.”
After a Matthew Pistilli power-play goal for the Everblades, Mangan answered with his own power-play goal with 3:40 to go in the opening period.
Langkow and Hayes scored power-play goals in the second period to give the Stingrays a 3-1 lead heading into the final period.
Hunter Bishop notched his 16th goal of the season with an empty-net effort with 90 seconds left in regulation.
Charles Landry scored with 48 seconds left for the Everblades.
Florida 1 0 1—2
Stingrays 1 2 1—4
First Period: 1. F, Pistilli 12 (Irwin, McGinnis), 11:23 (PP). 2. SC, Mangan 10 (Quick, Vaughan), 16:20 (PP). Penalties: Cherniwchan, SC (hooking), 10:05; Bogosian, F (interference), 15:49. Second Period: 3. SC, Langkow 13 (Vidmar, Bishop), 6:50 (PP). 4. SC, Hayes 7 (Mangan, Jakaitis), 12:52 (PP). Penalties: McGinnis, F (holding), 6:00; Edwards, F (hooking), 11:08; MacLeod, SC (interference), 15:17; Roy, F (tripping), 19:44.
Third Period: 5. SC, Bishop 16 (Langkow, Gaul), 18:30 (EN). 6. F, Landry 3 (Milan, Merrifield), 19:12. Penalties: Quick, SC (holding), 6:30; Dee, SC (boarding), 9:56.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 12-11-8-31; Florida: 15-8-11-34. Penalties: Stingrays 4-8; Florida 4-8. Power Play: Stingrays 3 for 4; Florida 1 for 2. Goalies: Stingrays – Jeff Jakaitis (4-3-2) 34 shots, 32 saves. Florida – Pat Nagle (9-6-1) 30 shots, 27 saves. Att: 2,127.