ESTERO, Fla. – Joe Pendenza took a cross ice pass from Robert Calisti, displayed some nifty footwork and scored the game-winning goal with 1:37 to play in overtime to lift the Florida Everblades to a thrilling 2-1 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays in front of a sellout throng of 7,299 Blades fans Saturday night at Hertz Arena, the sixth crowd of more than 7,000 enthusiastic Blades fans to enjoy a game at The Swamp this season.
On his 25th birthday, Evan Fitzpatrick continued to sparkle in goal for the Everblades, posting a season-high 40 saves – one night after recording a season-high, 38-save victory over the Stingrays – to win his fifth-straight game and improve to 6-1 on the season.
Winners of six straight home games, the Everblades have won all five contests versus the Stingrays this season.
Tempers boiled over from Friday night, as the Everblades’ Austin Crossley decisively outpointed Benton Maass of the Stingrays at the opening faceoff, with both combatants earning fighting majors before any time came off the clock.
Following the fisticuffs, scoring in the first period was hard to come by, but for the first time in five meetings between the clubs this season, South Carolina struck first as Josh Wilkins beat Fitzpatrick at the 17:54 mark to put the Stingrays ahead 1-0, their only lead in the five-game season series.
In the opening frame, the visitors outshot Florida 18-8 as Fitzpatrick registered 17 saves in the first 20 minutes, one night removed from an impressive 38-save performance in his return to the Blades’ lineup after being sidelined for 24 games.
The Everblades knotted the score at 1-1 in the second period, as Brad Morrison picked up his sixth tally at the 11:41 mark, banging home the puck off a faceoff won by Joe Pendenza, who notched his team-leading 26th assist of the season.
Neither team managed to score in the third period, although the Everblades had numerous chances in the final two minutes while enjoying a two-man advantage, setting up the Blades’ ninth overtime game this season.
With the three-game sweep in the rear-view mirror, the Everblades will enjoy a five-day respite before lacing up the skates for road games against the Jacksonville Icemen and the Orlando Solar Bears next Friday and Saturday, respectively. The puck drops for both games at 7:00 p.m. Following the two away contests, the Blades will be back home at Hertz Arena for a 7:30 p.m. contest versus Jacksonville on Wednesday, February 8.
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Purchase a new Voucher 12 package that allows you to use 12 tickets in any quantity during the 2022-23 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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Grab the newest and hottest Everblades merchandise by checking out the entire collection that is available online by visiting shop.floridaeverblades.com or at the Hertz Arena Pro Shop!
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and the AHL's Charlotte Checkers.