With their backs against the wall in trying to make it 16 straight years in the playoffs, the Florida Everblades were trying to make it two straight over division rival South Carolina Sunday evening at Germain Arena, only to lose a back-breaker 3-2.
The teams were scoreless through the first period, before the Stingrays broke through just over a minute into the second period, beating Blades goaltender Trevor Cann (18 saves) on a power play for what was the first of two scoresin the period.
Down 2-0, and the clock ticking on their playoff hopes, the Blades took control of the third period from the opening faceoff. The relentless pressure forced the Stingrays into mistakes, which the Blades capitalized on.
The first came 3:30 into the period when the pressure resulted in a power play for the Blades, who got a goal by Geoff Walker.
Seizing the momentum from goal, the Blades forced another penalty on South Carolina four minutes later. Though they failed to score with the extra man advantage, the pressure they generated resulted in the tying score by Cameron Burt with enough time on the clock for the Blades to possibly keep their playoff hopes alive.
Unfortunately, those minutes worked against them as the Stingrays scored the game-winner with 3:40 to play, forcing the Blades into a situation where they no longer can afford to lose any of their final three games of the season.
Blades coach Greg Poss had much to say following a loss that puts their playoffs chances on life support.
"I just felt we didn't come out with enough bite that first period," he said. "I thought Cann did a good job of keeping us in it in the first period. In the second period it was more even, despite the two mistakes that lead to their goals.
"And in the third period I thought we did an excellent job, except on the turnover that lead to their third goal. I thought we had really turned the corner, but that was a bad turnover that lead to their goal. We were dead tired and just trying to make a play," Poss added.
"I think that has been the story for most of the season, guys trying to do too much individually."
Florida (34-35) closes out the season with three games against the Reading Royals at Germain Arena beginning Wednesday night, and needing to win all three while hoping for the Fort Wayne Komets to lose both of their season ending games.