By Andrew Miller
Special to the Daily News
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Florida beat South Carolina at its own game Saturday night.
David Lundbohm had a goal and an assist and Tyler MacKay stopped 25 shots as Florida defeated South Carolina, 5-2, Saturday night before a crowd of 2,919 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Everblades, who are 3-0-1 this season at the North Charleston Coliseum, grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five American Conference quarterfinal series. Florida can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4.
Taking a page out of the Stingrays game plan, the Everblades played a physical brand of hockey they had not shown in the first two games.
“We played a good hockey game, it was a real playoff-type atmosphere out here,” said Florida coach Jerry Fleming. “It’s always a great game when these two teams get together and tonight was no exception. We played hard. We played physical against them especially in the first period.”
The Stingrays, who won Game 2 Friday night, 5-4, in Estero, Fla., came out flat in the first period, giving up 18 shots to the Everblades.
“We played so well in Florida (Friday night) and somewhere between there and here our game plan changed a little and we didn’t come out with any emotion,” said Stingrays captain Trevor S. Johnson. “We got behind the eight ball early and could never seem to recover.”
South Carolina coach Jason Fitzsimmons agreed.
“We didn’t show up in the first period,” Fitzsimmons said. “It didn’t matter how Florida played because we were not even on the ice in first period.”
The Stingrays played most of the game shorthanded after Jeremy Stevenson and Matt Reid left the game in the first period.
Stevenson collided with Stingrays defenseman Steve Spencer, who was trying to check Florida defenseman Simon Tremblay along the boards. But instead of hitting Tremblay, the second-year defenseman leveled Stevenson, knocking the Nashville Predator winger to the ice. Stevenson was taken from the coliseum to the Trident Health System hospital. His condition was unknown.
Reid also was taken to the hospital for an undisclosed injury.
The Everblades grabbed a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when Keith Anderson knocked in Chris Lee’s rebound shot from just outside the crease.
Florida extended its advantage to 2-0 on Brad Church’s wrap-around shot with just three seconds left in the opening period.
Stingrays goalie Gregg Naumenko protested the goal saying that an Everblade had interfered with him as he tried to make the save. Paul Cabana gave the Everblades a 3-0 lead four minutes into the second period when Stingrays goalie Gregg Naumenko misplayed the puck in front of the net.
South Carolina answered with two straight goals from rookie Joe Tenute and captain Trevor S. Johnson.
Nate Kiser, who took a shift at forward, kept the puck alive behind the net and hit Tenute just inside the right circle. Tenute spun and fired a shot just over the shoulder of MacKay for the score with 10:07 left in the second period.
Less than a minute later, Trevor S. Johnson picked up a loose puck in the Everblades zone and wristed a shot past MacKay for the score. After penalties to Carlyle Lewis and Mark Ardelan, Florida pushed its lead back to two goals, 4-2, when David Lundbohm scored on a five-on-three power play.
The Everblades put the game out early in the third period when Reggie Berg scored on a short-handed goal.