The Sin Bin’s Kelly Cup Playoff Coverage is presented by Kalwei Law Firm
The Florida Everblades were trying to accomplish the near-impossible. After falling behind three games to none in their Division Finals series with the South Carolina Stingrays, the Everblades rallied for two thrilling wins, one in triple overtime, the other in double overtime, to get right back in the series. More importantly, they would return to the friendly confines of Germain Arena, their home ice, for Games 6 & 7. With each win, the impossible turned into the improbably, which then turned into a glimmer of hope.
Unfortunately for the Everblades, they were facing one of the two feel-good stories (the other being Toledo’s historic turnaround) in the ECHL this season, and the fairytale is far from over for South Carolina. After an ECHL-record 24 game winning streak (which will stand for a long time), the Stingrays seemed like a team of destiny. Add to the mix the reigning Goalie of the Year and MVP Jeff Jakaitis, and South Carolina was the sexy pick to come out of the East. They got one step closer to that prediction on Monday night, knocking off Florida by a score of 5-2 to clinch the series in six games.
South Carolina was in control for the entire game. Backed by goals from Wayne Simpson and Andrew Rowe, the Stringrays took a 2-0 lead into the third period. Florida would try to mount a spirited rally, as Ray Kaunisto would pull the Everblades to within one early in the final frame, but a couple of daggers from Derek Deblois would put the game and the series out of reach. Jakaitis finished with 30 saves in another stellar performance.
South Carolina now awaits the winner of the Fort Wayne/Toledo series (Game 7 of that series is Wednesday night in Toledo). Regardless of who comes out of the North, it should be one hell of a matchup. Toledo won the Brabham Cup as the top team during the regular season. Fort Wayne had a terrific season as well, finishing with 102 points, just behind Toledo in the North.