The Caps got a necessary reminder of who they're up against and...
Stingrays Week 20 Recap: Just Like Last Time
Colorado ended up with two wins on the weekend, taking the first two against the South Carolina Stingrays. Just like their November series, South Carolina won game three.
The Stingrays’ win ended a 17-game winning streak for the Eagles, tied for second in ECHL history with the Cincinnati Cyclones from 2008. The Stingrays mark of 23 consecutive wins, set in 2015, remains the best in league history.
South Carolina took two wins from their six-game trip through the West, falling to the last playoff spot in the East and four points behind Greenville for second in the division.
After Steven McParland and John Parker scored in the early going in game one, Colorado rattled off seven unanswered goals for a 7-2 win. Parker Milner, reassigned earlier in the week from AHL Hershey, made 20 saves in his return.
Matt Grabowsky and Luke Salazar factored in on all seven of Colorado’s goals, with four goals and two assists between the two. Casey Pierro-Zabotel notched his 50th assist of the year on the fifth goal.
Domenic Monardo did not play, as he was en route to join the Hershey Bears on his second Hershey Bears recall.
While game one featured just one penalty, Wade Epp for Slashing (on which, McParland scored shorthanded), game two saw 41 penalties. Eight players ended the game in the locker room, as Colorado got the last win of their streak, 5-4.
Steve Weinstein and Rob Flick provided goals for South Carolina, Colton Saucerman and Wade Epp provided fisticuffs, in the first two periods. Salazar scored on the power play, and Tiegan Zahn shorthanded got Colorado tied with the Stingrays after 40.
Sam Jardine and Salazar scored power play goals in the third period to give Colorado a lead with ten minutes to go. Flick and Jardine settled things with their fists. Jardine got the early edge, but his punches did not seem to phase Flick. After readjusting his helmet, Flick wailed on Jardine until the linesmen jumped in to protect a turtling Jardine.
Scott Tanski scored on the resulting power play — Darryl Bootland went off for Slashing — to bring South Carolina back in the game. Kenny Brooks put the game out of reach two minutes later, but McParland made it a one-goal result with three minutes left. Then shenanigans took over to end the game.
With two seconds left and six Stingrays on, Clarke Sauders saved Saucerman’s point shot. Sean Zimmerman tossed Flick to the ice, as Alex Belzile did the same to Patrick Megannety in separate net-front battles. The linesmen stepped between Belzile and Megannety, while Flick took Zimmerman to the ice in a headlock, with the referee presiding over them. All four were assessed four minutes for roughing, and an escort to the locker room.
The Eagles won the final faceoff, but Trevor Gillies went right after Teigan Zahn at the final horn. Perrier and Pierro-Zabotel roughed each other up while Gillies and Zahn dropped gloves in a heavyweight bout. Linesman Josh Pergande held both combatants apart as they continued to trade words. Gillies even tried to hit Pergande’s arm off his jersey to go after Zahn again.
Zahn went to the bench with an official escort, and after Gillies left the ice and the Stingrays picked up the leftover equipment, Zahn skated back to celebrate with his teammates.
With Gillies out of the lineup and Parker Milner making his third straight start, Flick and Tansnki led the Stingrays’ offense to a 4-1 toppling of the streaking Eagles.
Flick and Tanski scored on consecutive power plays in the first period. Zahn mixed it up with Andrew Cherniwchan behind the play in the third period, with both getting Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties as no gloves came off.
Nick Neville, in his first game back off of reserve, got his second ECHL assist when his pass banked off Colorado’s Jake Marto and into the air. Flick took a swing, bouncing the puck behind the goal line.
Salazar got Colorado on the board two minutes later. After Milner saved Matt Register’s shot, the rebound bounced to Pierro-Zabotel. The second-best assister in the ECHL slid the puck for Salazar to finish over Milner’s glove. It was Colorado’s fourth power play goal of the series.
That would be the only bounce to fall Colorado’s way on “Pot of Gold Night,” celebrated by special green jerseys. Pierro-Zabotel took out Milner for a goaltender interference penalty, and Michael Sdao, with the faceoff about to drop, took a double-minor for High-Sticking.
The Eagles cleared the zone, forcing the puck behind Milner. McParland tripped Zahn and Grabowsky caught an elbow from Cherniwchan, sending both teams into a fracas. Saucerman engaged Zahn in a glove-smelling contest while Flick and Zimmerman tussled. Amid this engagement, those four had a seat across from their benches while neither McParland nor Cherniwchan went to the box.
John Parker scored into an empty net, and the Stingrays sent the Eagles home with their first loss since January 22 against Rapid City.
Early Monday, the Stingrays announced a trade: Defenseman Colton Saucerman sent to the Manchester Monarchs for forward Derek Arnold. Arnold, a third year pro out of UMASS-Lowell, has 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists) in 53 games with Manchester this season for fifth on the team. Saucerman brings two goals and 21 assists to his new team, already second best on Manchester.
It is back to North Charleston this weekend when the Rays host Florida for the final two times. In the final 13 games of the season, only two (both against Atlanta) are away from North Charleston Coliseum.
Saturday’s game is the annual Pink In The Rink night, with specialty jerseys to be auctioned off to benefit Share Our Suzy. The rink will be pink, and the first 2,000 fans will receive a Joe Devin bobblehead.
Sunday’s game is Undie Sunday, where fans are encouraged to bring packaged underwear, not used underwear, to the game. The rules are the same as the Teddy Bear Toss: after the first Stingrays’ goal, throw your undies on the ice.
5th in South Division, 31-25-2-1 (W-L-OTL-SOL), 65 points, 13 games left