It was Déjà vu all over again for the South Carolina Stingrays.
For the second time in the last three days the Florida Everblades beat the South Carolina Stingrays in a multi-overtime game.
Brant Harris scored 1:20 second into the second overtime period to lead the Everblades past the Stingrays, 5-4, in Game 5 of their Kelly Cup Eastern Conference finals series Friday night before a crowd of 3,072 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays still lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2, but the series shifts back to Estero, Fla,. for Game 6 Monday at Germain Arena. Game 7, if necessary, would be played Tuesday night at Germain Arena.
The Everblades were able to win two of three games at the North Charleston Coliseum, taking Game 4, 2-1, in triple overtime Wednesday night.
Harris picked up a loose puck on the right side and wristed a shot between the legs of South Carolina Jeff Jakaitis for the game winner.
But this game was decided long before Harris’ shot as the Everablades, despite playing without starting goalie Allen York for most of the game, scored three unanswered goals in the second period.
“We lost that game in the second period,” said Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery. “That wasn’t even close to playoff hockey from the guys in our locker room. There’s no explanation for that kind of performance in the second period this time of year with all that was at stake. It was just very disappointing.”
The Stingrays got on the scoreboard first when defenseman Frankie Simonelli blasted a shot past Everblades starting goalie Allen York from the right-wing point with 12:46 to play in the first period. Forwards Wayne Simpson and Andrew Rowe added assists.
Everblades forward Corey Trivino tied the score with 2:01 to play knocking in a rebound off the top of goal crease and Jakaitis for the score.
Seconds later, the Stingrays answered as forward Patrick Gaul tipped a pass from forward Caleb Herbert over the right pad of York at 18:12 to give the Stingrays a 2-1 lead.
Late in the opening period, Stingrays captain Andrew Rowe collided with York, driving hard to the Everblades net. York, who played for the Stingrays last season, was able to finish the period, but did not return to the ice. Rookie Daniel Atlshuller replaced York in net and finished with 30 saves. Altshuller had started Games 1 and 2 against South Carolina and given up a total of 10 goals as the Stingrays won both games.
In the second period, the Everblades scored three straight times to take a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
Defenseman Gleason Fournier got the scoring going for the Everblades as he ripped in his first goal of the playoffs at 2:43 to even the contest at 2-2.
Florida’s Brant Harris gave the Everblades their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 6:54 sliding a rebound under a sprawled-out Jakaitis.
With Stingrays forward Wade Epp and Everblades forward Mike Aviani in the penalty box for roughing, the Everblades capitalized on the 4-on-4 when defenseman Mike Cornell score at the 12:02 mark.
“We got absolutely run around for 20 minutes,” Carbery said. “I don’t understand how that can happen 80 games into the season. It’s mind-boggling that we played the way we did in the second period.”
The Stingrays rallied for two goals in the third period to force overtime for the second straight game. Simpson swung the momentum back to the Stingrays’ with his fourth goal of the playoffs 89 seconds into the third period.
Then South Carolina defenseman Michal Cajkovsky tied the game at 4-4 with a blast from the blue line with 8:57 to play regulation. Jakaitis made to spectacular saves on the Everblades power play to end the first overtime period and send into a second extra session.
“I had to go in and talk to our guys and generate some life,” Carbery said. “This time of year I shouldn’t have to do that.”