Estero, Fla. - Forward Wayne Simpson recorded his first professional hat trick and goaltender Pheonix Copley earned his first professional win to help the South Carolina Stingrays (40-22-2-4) clinch a berth in the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs with a 6-5 shootout victory over the Florida Everblades (33-26-3-5) Wednesday night at Germain Arena.
Everblades forward Brandon MacLean began the scoring 8:19 into the first period, lifting in his 20 goal of the season. The Stingrays responded with an unassisted shorthanded tally by forward Luke Greiner at 17:0,7 beating Everblades netminder Mac Carruth. Less than a minute later, the Everblades reclaimed the lead on the power play when forward Aaron Bogosian slipped the puck past Stingrays goaltender Allen York at 18:06.
Forward Mathieu Roy gave the Everblades a 3-1 lead on the man advantage early in the third period, knocking a rebound past York at 1:48. Shortly after the marker, York left the contest and was replaced by Copley, making his professional debut.
At the 7:15 mark, forward Patrick Gaul capitalized on a five-minute power play to pull the contest back within one. Simpson and forward Brett Gensler added assists. On the same extra-man opportunity, Simpson tied the game, rifling a pass from Gaul past Carruth at 8:32. Defenseman Brendan Ellis picked up the second assist. Simpson completed the hat trick at 17:41, finishing a 2-on-1 rush with forward Dale Mitchell.
The Everblades rallied with two goals late in the stanza with Carruth pulled for the extra skater to force overtime. Defenseman Rob Kweit made it 5-4 at 18:56, and Roy lit the lamp with 2.6 seconds to play.
In the shootout, Mitchell and Simpson registered goals to seal the victory.
The Stingrays and Everblades collide again at 7 p.m. Saturday and close their head-to-head season series at 5 p.m. Sunday at Germain Arena.