ESTERO, Fla. – Dylan Vander Esch scored two goals and Joe Pendenza collected three assists, as the Florida Everblades (26-15-4-4) took advantage of three second-period goals to claim a thrilling 4-3 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays (16-25-5-0) Saturday at Hertz Arena and send 6,741 energetic fans home happy.
South Carolina scored first, as Connor Moore slapped home a power-play goal just 3:15 into the contest that staked the Stingrays to a 1-0 lead that would hold up through the first period.
As quickly as the Stingrays struck in the opening frame, the Everblades scored even quicker to open the second period. Jake McLaughlin buried a blast from downtown for his fourth goal of the year at 1:30 of the second that knotted the score at 1-1. John McCarron earned his 27th assist of the season after winning a faceoff in the right circle and finding a wide-open McLaughlin just in front of the blue line.
Despite South Carolina regaining the lead 2-1 on a Lawton Courtnall power-play goal at 8:05 of the second, the middle period belonged to the Everblades. Florida outshot the Stingrays 16-3 and went on to score two more goals in the frame to pull ahead 3-2.
First, Stefan Leblanc tied the game at 2-2, rifling home a power-play goal, his first marker of the season, from the high slot at 10:20, with Levko Koper and Pendenza earning the assists. Then at 15:01, Vander Esch scored from the right circle as a two-on-one opportunity that started at the Stingrays’ blue line came to fruition. For Vander Esch, this was the eighth tally of the campaign, while Pendenza picked up his second assist of the period and Florida took a 3-2 lead.
Vander Esch was not done, as he gave the Everblades the eventual game-winning goal, burying a big slap shot from the slot for his second goal of the game and ninth of the year. Pendenza registered his third assist of the night, while Jake McLaughlin also added a helper as the Blades pulled ahead 4-2.
The Stingrays snapped a string of three-straight Everblades goals as Justin Florek scored the Rays’ third power-play goal of the contest at the 8:23 mark of the third period to trim Florida’s lead to 4-3 and close out the scoring.
Florida outshot South Carolina 37-24 and Tomas Vomacka collected 21 saves for his seventh win of the season. Logan Flodell registered 33 saves in a losing effort for the Stingrays.
After a three-day respite, the Everblades will return to action for the final game of the homestand Wednesday night at 7:30 pm when the Orlando Solar Bears skate into Hertz Arena. As Southwest Florida hockey fans have come to know and love, every Wednesday home game at The Swamp features some awesome Hump Day deals, including $3 John Morrell hot dogs and Bud Light drafts. Also, college students can show a valid student ID at the Fifth Third Box Office to purchase their student ticket for only $5. Students can also purchase tickets online HERE. Read more about the Blades’ busy promotional schedule and great deals HERE.
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Purchase a new Voucher 12 package that allows you to use 12 tickets in any quantity during the 2021-22 season to earn the exclusive benefits of being a Blades 365 Member! To view the Blades 365 Membership savings, benefits and options click HERE.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.