NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Searching for their ninth straight victory, the Florida Everblades (45-15-5-0, 95 pts.) close out their final four-game week of the regular season when they battle the South Carolina Stingrays (28-30-5-1, 62 pts.) on Sunday afternoon in Florida's last road game of the regular season.
Last Time OutBlake Winiecki scored twice for the third time in his last five games and Philippe Hudon (1g-1a) notched his first professional multi-point game to lead the 'Blades to a 4-3 victory in the series opener against South Carolina on Saturday night. Defenseman Ben Masella had the other tally for Florida, his sixth goal of the season. Jeremy Helvig faced 25 shots and made 22 saves to earn his sixth straight victory. BOX SCORE | RECAP
Players to WatchBlake Winiecki (FLA) – Though he was scoreless in the first two games of the week, Winiecki has been a key piece for the Everblades of late. The rookie had the game-winning goal in Florida's shootout wins on Wednesday and Friday and then netted his fifth multi-goal game of the season in Saturday's victory. The Lakeville, Minnesota, native has tabbed multiple points on 11 occasions this season and is the only 'Blades player to net the game-winning goal in three consecutive games this year.
Grant Besse (SC) - South Carolina's leading goal scorer has been quiet against Florida this season up until Saturday night. Besse had just two points, both of which were assists, in the first six meetings between the two teams. However, he netted his fourth multi-goal game of the season on Saturday to lead the Stingrays offensive attack. The Plymouth, Minnesota, native has goals in consecutive games entering Sunday.
Series historySunday is the eighth and final regular-season matchup between Florida and South Carolina. The Everblades have posted a 5-1-1 record against the Stingrays through the first seven meetings this season, including a 3-1-0 record at North Charleston Coliseum. Florida holds an all-time record of 104-67-22 against South Carolina, which is the 'Blades most-played opponent in their franchise history. Sunday is the 194th all-time matchup.
Road WarriorsSaturday's victory increased Florida's road win total to 23, which is the most wins of any ECHL team this year. In fact, only one other ECHL team has more than 18 road wins. Cincinnati has the second-most road victories with 19. With Newfoundland's road setback on Saturday, Florida is now tied for the fewest road regulation losses with nine.
Close CallsAfter going 1-4-4 through its first nine one-goal games of the season, Florida has fared much better since then in tight contests. Each of the Everblades' last four wins has all been by one goal, and Florida is now 10-5-1 in its last 16 games separated by the minimum. Prior to this current stretch, the Everblades had played only one other stretch this season where they had more than two consecutive games decided by one goal.
Powering ThroughDespite facing the league's second-best penalty kill, Florida found the back of the net on its first power play of the night on Saturday and finished 1-for-7 on the man advantage. South Carolina had converted on 21-of-22 penalty kills against Florida in the first six matchups between the two teams before yielding that power-play tally, the second goal of the game for the 'Blades. The Stingrays still rank second in the league on the penalty kill, converting on 86.6 percent of their penalty-killing opportunities this season.
Next UpThe Everblades have just one game on the docket this coming week for the first time all season. Florida hosts Orlando on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Hertz Arena.
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The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes