Everblades Snap Stingrays Winning Streak

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Posted January 12, 2017

Parker Milner (via the Stingrays)

ESTERO, Fla. — Despite 35 shots on goal and six power play chances, the South Carolina Stingrays could not make it eight straight wins.

The South Division-leading Florida Everblades extended their winning streak to four with a 3-1 win over South Carolina. Tonight’s game opened a three-game series between the No. 1 and 2 teams in the division.

“They do it all,” Stingrays head coach Ryan Warsofsky said. “They are a skilled hockey team, and when you give them chances, Grade-A chances, they are going to bury it.”

After his slashing minor expired, Stingrays All-Star Steven McParland stepped out of the box and found a late Christmas present at his skates. Patrick Gaul forced a turnover in the Stingrays zone and hit McParland with a pass right as his door opened.

Gaul and McParland made up the two-on-zero, and McParland finished through Anthony Peters’s legs right before the first intermission.

That would be all the scoring for the Stingrays. Peters made 35 stops for his 14th win of the season.

“You go through ebbs and flows of the season where you cannot score goals, and in this seven-game win streak we were scoring a bunch of goals,” Warsofsky said. “We will learn from it.”

By the time of McParland’s goal, the Everblades already had a two-goal lead to work with. For the first one, Evan Bloodoff intercepted a cross-ice pass, with Clark Bishop scoring his first ECHL goal. Bishop was reassigned from AHL Charlotte last week.

A Stingrays power play was seconds away from expiring, then a turnover at the blue line while trying to enter the zone sent a three-on-one the other way. Bloodoff finished an Alexander Kuqali pass for his third of the season.

“I thought we played good enough to win, but not our best,” Warsofsky said. “We will learn from it and get better.”

The second period featured another turnover goal against the Stingrays. Brendan O’Donnell held in a clearance attempt at the blue line, stepped in and shot through four players. Parker Milner did not see the puck until it was already behind him.

A scary moment came late in the second when Max Nicastro hit Michael Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick lost his balance and slid face-first into the boards and stayed on the ice for about a minute. He needed a little assistance to get to the bench, and then was escorted to the locker room at the next TV timeout. Kirkpatrick did return for the third period.

McParland paced all skaters with seven shots, and Kelly Zajac had three shots on top of two posts. His second post riccochetted back off Peters, but he pounced back on the puck to keep it off the line.

“Offensively, I liked our game, we just could not find the back of the net,” Warsofsky said.

The Everblades, winners of nine of their last 11 home games, were greeted with a warm applause as they skated off. Milner stopped 23 of their 26 shots in a losing effort.

“He’s playing his best hockey right now,” Warsofsky said. “Nothing against him tonight.”

South Carolina does not have much time to dwell on this loss, as they face Florida again on Friday night.

“The turnovers have to be cleaned up,” Warsofsky said. “Not just turnovers in the offensive zone, but more importantly our defensive zone needs to be a lot better.”