NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - Though the Florida Everblades went punch-for-punch with the South Carolina Stingrays at even strength Friday night, two Stingrays power play goals proved to be the difference in a 4-2 defeat for the Everblades.
South Carolina's power play got the scoring started with 9:40 to go in the first as Wayne Simpson rifled a low shot past recently acquired goalie Connor Knapp to push the home side ahead 1-0.
Jack Downing tallied the Rays' second straight power play marker 8:34 into the second to double South Carolina's advantage to 2-0, blasting home a cross-ice one-timer from Peter Boyd.
League-leading rookie scorer Kyle Bonis got the Blades on the board at 2-1 with 2:55 remaining in the middle frame, snapping a nine-game goalless skid by banging a Mike Merrifield feed past Rays netminder Jeff Jakaitis.
Stingray forward Paul Rodrigues put a serious dent in Florida's comeback hopes, driving in a shot from the left circle to boost the home side to a 3-1 edge with 13:32 left in the third.
Blades assistant captain Trevor Bruess pulled Florida within 3-2, cashing in a loose rebound at the 2:55 mark to set up a dramatic finish.
Though Everblades coach Greg Poss pulled Knapp for an extra attacker, Florida had trouble getting shots though to the net and Boyd ended the Blades' hopes for a rally, sending a length-of-the-ice shot into the empty net to close the game 4-2.
Knapp compiled 20 saves in his Everblades debut ,but couldn't avoid his eighth loss of the season. Jakaitis stopped 24-of-26 Florida attempts to pick up the win in his return to the Stingrays' lineup.
The two sides play a rematch at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.