NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The defending Kelly Cup Champs are moving on to the second round.
Joe Pendenza fired home a perfect feed from Sean Josling at 9:55 of overtime to lift the Florida Everblades to a 2-1 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays in Game Six of the South Division Semifinals Monday night at North Charleston Coliseum. The Everblades won the series four-games-to-two and will advance to South Division Finals against either Jacksonville or Greenville.
Spending the first 20 minutes looking to claim the early momentum, the combatants battled to a scoreless first period. The opening frame saw both teams put seven shots on goal and came up empty on two power-play opportunities apiece.
Scoreless hockey continued for more than 13 minutes of the second period, but Logan Lambdin struck first for the Everblades at the 13:04 mark, potting his second power-play goal in as many games as South Carolina could not escape the final minute of a double minor penalty. Lambdin’s third goal of the postseason saw Ashton Calder and Tyler Irvine earn the assists.
The Blades’ 1-0 lead would hold up into the third period, but the Stingrays pulled even on a Bear Hughes’ power-play goal at 4:52 of the period, as South Carolina converted just 33 seconds into their first man-advantage of the period. Everblades netminder Cam Johnson made several clutch saves in the final minute to preserve the 1-1 tie and send the game to overtime for the second time in the series.
In overtime, the Everblades outshot South Carolina 5-0 and claimed a 33-29 edge in shot over the contest. Johnson (4-2) made 28 saves for the Blades, while Clay Stevenson (2-1-2) turned aside 31 shots for the Stingrays.
The Everblades went 1-for-5 on the power play, while holding South Carolina to a 1-for-6 performance. In the contest, Florida was whistled for six penalties totaling 12 minutes, while the Stingrays were called for 10 minutes on five infractions.
Looking ahead in the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs, presented by Lexus Dealers of Southwest Florida, tickets for all second-round will go sale Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. at the Fifth Third Bank Box Office at Hertz Arena. Following two games at either Jacksonville or Greenville, the Everblades and Hertz Arena will host Game Three on Wednesday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m., Game Four on Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. and, if necessary, Game Five on Saturday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and the AHL's Charlotte Checkers.