Written by Keaton Hanley
ESTERO, FL – Michael Kirkpatrick scored twice, including the game-winner with 2:20 remaining in regulation, to lift the Florida Everblades to a 4-3 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays on Friday night at Germain Arena.
The ‘Blades came out aggressively with a heavy forecheck through the first half of the period, and due to the physical play, multiple scoring chances were gained by the Blades from that physical style of play. Despite this, they were unable to get a goal on the board and the game headed to the first intermission scoreless.
The Stingrays found the back of the net on the backend of their power play to start the second period just 42 seconds in. The Stingrays’ star rookie Taylor Cammarata extended his point streak to nine-games when he received the puck at the top of the blue line and hammered it top shelf past Ouellette’s glove to give the Stingrays the lead.
The ‘Blades tied it up following a power play opportunity of their own, as Justin Kea broke in on the left side of the zone and sauced a pass right in front of the opposite side of the net. The puck hit off the leg of a defenseman in front and catapulted into the top shelf behind Milner for the tally.
Moments later, Florida took the lead off a messy turnover in front of Milner as the Clark Seymour lifted the stick of Frankie Simonelli and chipped the puck to Mitchell Heard. Heard displayed great patience as he went forehand to his backhand to get Milner to drop before sliding it once more in the seamlessly empty net.
South Carolina tied it up 1:22 later, as chaos ensued in the ‘Blades end after Ouellette lost his footing and the Stingrays took the puck behind the net. Andrew Cherniwchan wristed the puck through traffic and it deflected off the of Paul Geiger in front. The puck barely squeaked through the cracks of Ouellette’s pads for the goal.
Florida grabbed its second lead when John McCarron delivered the puck from behind the net to Michael Kirkpatrick blazing down the slot. Kirkpatrick immediately batted the puck just above the crease into the net past Milner to put the score at 3-2.However, less than 90 seconds later, South Carolina tied it again, when Kelly Zajac collected a cross-ice feed on the right wing side and flexed a shot past Ouellette to make it a 3-3 contest.
With 5:30 left in the third, the Stingrays looked to be on a 3-on-1 rush into the Florida end after a turnover. However, Joe Cox hustled back and dove out in front of the passing lane and deflected the puck out of play to keep the score tied at three.
The ‘Blades took the lead late when it looked grim, as they were stuck in their own end for nearly a minute. However, John McCarron batted the puck out of the zone, and skated down the ice the opposite direction before dropping it back to Kirkpatrick. Florida’s leading scorer, Kirkpatrick, dragged the puck around the defenseman to his backhand in the slot and sent backhanded shot past Milner’s glove side for a highlight reel goal, giving the Blades the 4-3 lead with 2:20 left in the game.
With the Stingrays pulling Milner for the extra attacker you would have hardly known it as the Blades dominated the possession game, not allowing the Stingrays to get set up in their end of the ice, and turning the 4-3 lead into a 4-3 win.
Ouellette earned his 11th win of the season making 19 saves, while Milner suffers his first loss of the season in regulation making 27 saves. Defenseman Zack Kamrass returned to the Florida line-up this evening after missing the past six weeks to an injury.
The two teams will meet in the rubber match on Saturday at Germain Arena beginning at 7:00 p.m.Upcoming Home Games
Saturday, December 16, vs. South Carolina, 7:00 p.m. Star Wars Night! The first 1,000 fans receive a FREE lightsaber. Star Wars characters will be in the concourse and available for photos. Santa will also be in attendance!
Wednesday, December 20, vs. Jacksonville, 7:30 p.m. $2 Wednesday! Enjoy $2 hot dogs, $2 Beer and $2 Wine all night long in the concourse. College students receive a $5 ticket with valid college ID.
Purchase Single Game Tickets at the Florida Community Bank Box Office located at Germain Arena, or online via Ticketmaster by CLICKING HERE
2017-18 Ticket Packages are Currently on Sale! Flexible partial plans are available. These packages will best fit your schedule and budget! To view pricing and benefits of all available ticket packages CLICK HERE
SPECIAL OFFER! Purchase a new ticket package for the 2017-18 season and receive a $20 gift card to Ford's Garage!
Discounted Group Tickets: Bring your group of 10 or more to a game at a discounted price! Group tickets are available for all home games. Fundraising opportunities are also available. For more information on group tickets, call 239-948-7825, or stop by the Everblades offices at Germain Arena Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliateof the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes###