ESTERO, Fla. — Mark Cooper scored twice, and Parker Milner made 30 saves to lead the South Carolina Stingrays to a 3-0 win over the Florida Everblades on Saturday night at Hertz Arena.
Cooper scored just 16 seconds into the opening period to set the tone for the Stingrays (13-2-0-0, 26 pts.), which took both games of the two-game set with Florida (11-6-0-0, 22 pts.).
The Stingrays opened the scoring on the fastest goal against the ‘Blades to start a game this season. After Eddie Wittchow fired a shot from the left circle, the puck deflected right to Cooper in the bottom of the right circle, and he hammered it past Everblades goaltender Cam Johnson.
Max Novak added to South Carolina’s lead in the final two minutes of the first period. Cole Ully provided pressure on the forecheck, won a puck battle behind the ‘Blades net, and found Kristofers Bindulis in the circle with a pass from behind the net. Bindulis sent it to Novak outside the crease for the quick shot past Johnson with 1:25 left in the first.
The Stingrays tabbed their final goal of the night in the first minute of the second period. Cooper’s initial chance on a zone rush hit off the end wall, but he caught his own errant shot on the opposite side to beat Johnson at the left post.
Johnson finished with 21 saves for Florida and fell to 4-4-0-0 on the season. Milner stayed undefeated and improved to 7-0-0-0 with the shutout victory.
- Florida was tasked with five penalty kills in the game, just one shy of its season-high. The ‘Blades finished a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill and ended the weekend with an 8-for-9 mark on the penalty kill.
- The ‘Blades outshout the Stingrays by six (30-24) and have outshot their opponent in 10 straight games. However, Saturday marked Florida’s second straight loss in a game where it outshot its opponent. The ‘Blades are now 11-4-0-0 when holding an advantage in shots on goal.
- All of South Carolina’s scoring took place at the bookends of periods, as the Stingrays potted two goals in the opening minute of a period and another goal in the last 90 seconds of a period.
NEXT UPFlorida is back the road for three games next week. The ‘Blades head to Utah for their only road games against a Mountain Division team this season.
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