NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - The Florida Everblades took sole possession of first place in the South Division Saturday, blitzing the South Carolina Stingrays with four unanswered goals in a matchup of the top two teams in the ECHL.
It was South Carolina who opened the scoring with 8:50 left in the first as Patrick Gaul misfired a rebound chance that pinballed off linemate Peter Boyd and in, boosting the home side to a 1-0 advantage.
Forward Kellan Tochkin evened it up at 1-1 just 2:18 later, settling a Mike Merrifield rebound and firing it home before Rays goalie Jeff Jakaitis could recover.
Florida's power play proved pivotal in the second as A.J. Jenks netted his fifth of the year, lifting the Everblades to a 2-1 lead by ricocheting a bad-angle shot off Jakaitis and in with 10:12 to go in the middle frame.
Brandon MacLean provided some big-time insurance for the Blades 3:33 into the third, crushing a one-timer from Trevor Bruess under the crossbar to extend the advantage to 3-1.
Jenks put the finishing touches on the Saturday win for Florida, firing in a backdoor pass from Mathieu Roy for what would prove to be the final score at 4-1, dealing the Stingrays their first regulation defeat of 2013-14.
Kristers Gudlevskis picked up his second straight win in net, stymying 27 South Carolina attempts to improve to 4-1-0-0. Jakaitis slipped to 7-1-1-1 on 24 stops.
The Everblades return home to open a two-game set with the Orlando Solar Bears, starting Friday with a 7:30 p.m. tilt against their in-state rivals at Germain Arena.