The South Carolina Stingrays knew they weren’t going to win every game this season.
But to lose to South Division rival Florida, a team the Stingrays were battling for first place in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference, was particularly distasteful.
A.J. Jenks scored two goals and goalie Kristers Gudlevski stopped 27 shots to lead the Everblades past South Carolina, 4-1, Saturday night before a crowd of 4,051 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
It was the first regulation loss of the season for the Stingrays, who dropped to 9-1-2 (20 points) on the season. The Everblades (10-2-2, 22 points) took over first place in the ECHL’s South Division and Eastern Conference with the victory.
The fact that the Stingrays lost didn’t bother South Carolina head coach Spencer Carbery as much as the way his team was defeated, getting outhustled by an Everblades squad that was playing in its third game in as many days. Meanwhile, the Stingrays were playing for the first time in seven days.
“I was disappointed in the way we competed tonight and our lack of effort,” Carbery said. “I was shocked that Florida was beating us to loose pucks and looked like the quicker team tonight. They beat us up the ice all night. We looked like the team that was playing its third game in three nights and not them.”
The week off appeared to hurt the Stingrays’ momentum instead of rejuvenating them.
“I think we got a little complacent,” Carbery said. “We were not very sharp tonight.”
The Stingrays had to shuffle the lineup with forwards Igor Gongalsky and Jack Downing out of the lineup with injuries. Center Justin Maylan left the team earlier in the week to play in Europe. Still, Carbery wasn’t using that as an excuse. Gongalsky and Downing are not expected to play Sunday afternoon against Gwinnett.
“We’ve had some guys waiting for their chance to get on the ice and prove they belong in our lineup,” Carbery said. “This is their opportunity to show what they can do, but we had some guys that have been in the lineup all season that didn’t play very well tonight. We were flat, the entire team, and that’s what is disappointing for me.”
This is the first of nearly a dozen meetings with the Everblades, the one team in the South Division that appears ready to challenge the Rays.
“We had a week to prepare for a heavyweight matchup for first place in our division and we were not very good,” Carbery said. “It’s a big Saturday night and we needed to have a better performance than that, especially with first place on the line.”
Florida 1 1 2—4
Stingrays 1 0 0—1
First Period: 1. SC, Boyd 3 (Gaul, Collins), 11:10. 2. F, Tochkin 2 (Merrifield, Carzo), 13:28. Penalties: Cherniwchan, SC (high sticking), 6:39; Little, F (tripping), 14:42.
Second Period: 3. F, Jenks 5 (Roy, Pistilli), 9:48. Penalties: Spinell, SC (holding), 7:59; Roy, F (tripping), 12:13; Owens, SC (hooking), 18:45.
Third Period: 4. F, MacLean 8 (Bruess, Bonis), 3:33. 5. F, Jenks 6 (Roy, Pistilli), 15:41. Penalties: Gimblett, F (fighting, boarding), 5:51; Cherniwchan, SC 9fightin), 5:51; Deme-Malka, F (slashing), 9:36; Collins, SC (slashing), 9:36.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 11-11-6-28; Florida: 8-9-11-28. Penalties: Stingrays 5-13; Florida 5-13. Power Play: Stingrays 0 for 3; Florida 1 for 3. Goalies: Stingrays – Jeff Jakaitis (7-1-2) 28 shots, 24 saves. Florida – Krister Gudlevskis (4-1-1) 28 shots, 27 saves. Att: 4,051.
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