Stingrays Week 23 Recap: Huge Week Ahead

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Posted March 27, 2017

Adam Carlson (via Sarah Hobday)

The Gladiators entered the Coliseum, got their hockey pants kicked, and left with defeat.

The South Carolina Stingrays, needing points to keep pace in a tight South Division race, won all three battles with the Atlanta Gladiators. South Carolina jumped from fifth to third place after those three games. South Carolina followed that effort with a 3-1 loss to the Indy Fuel, falling to fourth.

Five different skaters beat Atlanta goaltender Dan Vladar on Wednesday for a 5-2 win over the Gladiators. Parker Milner stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced.

Kelly Zajac and Olivier Archambault got the party started at Infinite Energy Arena, only to be cancelled out by Tyler Murovich and Mark Naclerio in the second period.

Three unanswered followed for the visitors, including Patrick Megannety’s second goal, Patrick Gaul’s tenth, and Derek Arnold’s 13th for the late dagger.

With Rob Flick on loan to AHL Manitoba, the Stingrays signed Kevin Dufour to a contract. Dufour comes to the Lowcountry via Bowling Green State, where he set career highs in goals (18), assists (12), and points (30) in 41 games this season.

A similar script unfolded Friday night, where South Carolina won its third straight game on the back of Milner’s 20 saves. Kelly Zajac scored shorthanded late in the second period for the game-winner in a 4-2 decision.

Archambault and Gaul stayed hot with first period goals, then Derek Nesbitt and Eric Neiley put the Gladiators on the board.

Max Nicastro scored his fourth of the year in the third. Atlanta goaltender Matt Ginn stopped 26 of South Carolina’s 30 shots.

With Ginn in again, the Stingrays put up five goals to finish off a sweep. After this 5-2 win, the Stingrays are 7-2-0-0 against the Gladiators this season with two more games left against them.

Atlanta found the scoreboard first with Nesbitt on the power play, only to have Megannety cancel them out nine minutes later.

Joey Leach and Derek Arnold gave the home team a second period lead, then Josh Atkinson and Thomas Frazee tied it up again.

The dedalock ended two minutes later with Zajac’s second game-winner in as many nights. Joe Devin scored late in the second to put the game out of reach, with Dufour getting his first professional point on a secondary assist.

Adam Carlson, starting his first game in weeks, allowed three goals on eight shots in the first period to the Indy Feul. While he was solid the rest of the way, Jake Hlidebrand stopped 43 of 44 to steal a win for the visitors.

Former Stingray Nick Bligh and Josh Shalla scored in the first three minutes, followed by Andrew Cherniwchan getting South Carolina on the board.

Michael Neal scored on a rush play with 19 seconds left in the first. Neither team would score the rest of the game.

The Stingrays got limited help from around the ECHL this week. The Orlando Solar Bears are on a three-game winning streak, Greenville took one game from Indy, Cincinnati swept Alaska then lost to Fort Wayne to close out the weekend.

NEXT WEEK

Three major divisional matchups sit on the docket for the Stingrays: Tuesday against Greenville, then Friday and Sunday against Orlando.

The Swamp Rabbits contest is Stingrays Happy Hour, with $2 beer from 6-8 p.m. and $2 hot dogs all night long.

On Friday, the Stingrays will wear special jerseys to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Kelly Cup Championship, the first in franchise history. Alumni from the team will be in attendance, and five fans will win a throwback jersey.

Sunday’s contest features appearances by the ZOOpsters, and starts at 3:05 p.m.

Greenville and Atlanta hold a three-game series this weekend, Orlando will play Adirondack on Tuesday before their trip to the Lowcountry, and Cincinnati will play Brampton (Wednesday), Fort Wayne (Friday), Toledo (Saturday), and Indy (Sunday).

CURRENT STANDING

66 games played, 36-27-2-1 (W-L-OTL-SOL), 75 points, 4th in South Division

PLAYOFF PICTURE

One point ahead of Cincinnati (74, 5th), two points behind Greenville and Orlando (77, T-2nd)

Max Wolpoff

Max Wolpoff

Churchill High School graduate (2015) and current Boston University journalism student. Follow me on Twitter (@Max_Wolpoff) for game-day tweets or my random musings about being a college student.
Max Wolpoff

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