South Carolina Stingrays center Scott Campbell can't remember the last time he got into a fight on the ice.
It's been at least a year, Campbell thought, maybe even two seasons since he's got a major fighting penalty.
But when you're facing your rival and playing in front of capacity crowd of more than 10,000 you do what needs be done.
Derrick Pallis scored for the first time as a Stingray and added an assist, and goalie Jeff Jakaitis stopped 32 shots to lead South Carolina past Florida, 4-1, Saturday night before a record crowd of 10,617 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays gave the record-setting crowd plenty to cheer about throughout the game.
"The crowd was awesome," Campbell said. "They were into from the drop of the puck. It's so much fun playing in front of a packed house like it was tonight. I think in the third period, when guys were getting a little tired, they fed off their energy."
It was a four-point weekend for South Carolina, which beat the Everblades, 4-2 Friday night, as the Stingrays improved to an ECHL Eastern Conference best 28-10-3 (59 points) on the season. The Everblades fell to 22-13-3 (47 points).
The physical play, which was on full display in Friday night's victory, carried over to Saturday night when Florida defenseman Olivier Dame-Malka blindsided Stingrays forward Jack Downing just two minutes into the game. The former University of Vermont hit the ice hard and struggled to get back to his feet.
Campbell, who did not have a single penalty minute in 24 games with the Stingrays, wasted little time in dropping his gloves and challenging Dame-Malka. A few glancing blows were exchanged as the two eventually wrestled to the ice.
"I don't know that I'd call that a fight, but (Downing) was in a pretty vulnerable spot and you want to stick up for your teammates," Campbell said. "Sometimes you have to take care of business. It's a part of the game. Florida is a very physical team, and you don't want them to think they can get away with that sort of stuff. You want to send a message that we're here to play and if you take a run at us we're going to stand up for ourselves."
Downing, who is listed as questionable for Tuesday's game with Orlando, wasn't the only casualty of the night for the Stingrays. Defenseman Jeremey Price was knocked out of the game after a vicious elbow to his head from Florida defenseman Charles Landry.
Referee Tyler Puddifant gave Landry a major elbowing penalty, a fighting major and a game misconduct.
While Downing returned for one shift in the second period, Price left the game and did not return.
"We lost two pretty big parts of our team," said South Carolina coach Spencer Carbery. "I'm hoping the league will take a look at the hit on Jeremey. That's not a hit that should be in the game. I thought we did a good job of keeping our cool and staying disciplined."
For the second straight night the Stingrays took advantage of the Everblades undisciplined play, scoring two power-play goals - one by Pallis in the first period, and the other coming from Peter Boyd after Landry's major penalties.
"In close games like this, special teams are usually going to be the difference," Campbell said. "Our power play has been clicking the last couple of nights."
The story of the weekend was the play of Jakaitis, who made 36 of 39 saves in the two games against the Everblades. Jakaitis has given up just five goals in the last four games against the Everblades.
"It was an important weekend for us because Florida was looking to make up some ground on us in the standings and the guys were all pulling in the same direction," Jakaitis said. "Everyone was really paying attention to the details this weekend and made my job pretty easy in both games."
The Stingrays led 2-0 midway through the third period when Florida's Joe Stejskal cut the lead in half with his power play goal.
But the Stingrays finished off the Everblades with two empty net goals from Patrick Gaul and Wayne Simpson.
Florida 0 0 1-1
Stingrays 1 0 3-4
First Period: 1. SC, Pallis 1 (Baker, Sparks), 8:21 (PP). Penalties: Dame-Malka, F (fighting - major), 2:02; Campbell, SC (roughing, fighting - major), 2:02; Carzo, Fla (hooking), 5:00; Gimblett, Fla (hooking), 6:23; Sparks, SC (tripping), 14:38.
Second Period: No goals. Penalties: Vidmar, SC (tripping), 16:49; Landry Fla (cross-checking), 17:21. Landry, F (fighting - major, elbowing - major, game misconduct - elbowing), 19:29; Currie, SC (fighting - major), 19:29.
Third Period: 2. SC, Boyd 13 (Pallis), 0:32 (PP). 3. F, Stejskal 2 (Levi, Devos), 12:14 (PP). 4. SC, Gaul 8 (unassisted) 17:56 (SH EN). 5. SC, Simpson 13 (unassisted) 19:16 (EN). Penalties: Rempel , SC (roughing), 8:47; Sparks, SC (hooking), 11:10; Rodrigues, SC (slashing ), 16:09.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 8-7-12-27; Florida: 11-11-11-33. Penalties: Stingrays 8-22; Florida 7-31. Power Play: Stingrays 2 for 5; Florida 1 for 6. Goalies: Stingrays - Jeff Jakaitis (21-4-3) 33 shots, 32 saves. Florida - Riku Helenius (0-2-0) 25 shots, 23 saves. Att: 10,617.
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