Stingrays Week 20 Recap: Top Dog

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Posted March 14, 2016

(via the Stingrays)

Three wins this week have pushed the South Carolina Stingrays into first place in the tight South Division. Even with the Missouri Mavericks (97 points) already clinching a playoff spot, the Rays cannot lose focus as the Florida Everblades are one point behind.

The ECHL Trade Deadline came and the Rays sent Brendan Ellis to add defender Spencer Humphries from the Evansville IceMen. Humphries has 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 54 games so far this season.

The Stingrays opened the week with their fourth straight win over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Vitek Vanecek stopped all 28 Greenville shots en route to his second professional shutout. The Rays provided plenty of support in front of him with 41 shots on counterpart Mackenzie Skapaski.

As part of a season-high 21 shot second period, Ryan Ruikka scored his first ECHL goal and first professional goal. The Boston University product began his ECHL career with Wichita earlier this season.

New signee Kelly Zajac scored his second of the season mere minutes later. Nick D’Agostino started a give-and-go with Joe Devin, who found Zajac waiting at the back post for the tap-in goal.

Two third period goals from Marcus Perrier iced the game for a 4-0 win. Perrier skated at forward for this game as he did against Adirondack last week.

At home for the weekend agaisnt Atlanta, the Rays fans were encouraged to bring their dog to North Charleston Coliseum as part of the annual Dog Days of Winter game; dogs were not counted in the official attendance. The Rays did not dissapoint, winning 4-1 to overtake Florida for the division lead.

After Bobby Shea’s Super Mario fight with Eric Neiley, Zajac put the Stingrays on the board first. 29 seconds later, Patrick D’Amico tied the game at one. Stephan Vigier (PP) scored his 20th of the season to break the deadlock and hand the Rays a lead they would not relinquish.

Patrick Gaul scored his third of the year in the second and Jared Staal got his 10th in the third to seal the scoreline. Mark Dekanich stopped 26 of 27 shots for the win.

Capping the perfect week, South Carolina kept pace and beat Atlanta again, 3-1.

Nick Jones scored on the power play in the first and Vigier scored 1:03 later for a 2-0 advantage as the first period ended. Kent Patterson for Atlanta and Vanecek for South Carolina shut down the scoring in the second, stopping 14 and nine shots respectively.

Tyler Murovich did have a goal waved off as the officials lost sight of the puck. He had the last laugh in the third, finishing a passing play with Brock Higgs to bring the Gladiators within one.

With Patterson on the bench for the extra skater, Patrick Gaul scored on the empty net for the Rays win. Chaos ensued as Higgs and Epp were given matching double minors for roughing after the puck crossed the line. Perrier got a misconduct at the final horn as well.

NEXT WEEK

The battle for the South Division comes to North Charleston as the Florida Everblades will pay the Lowcountry a visit on Friday and Saturday. Florida is one point behind South Carolina for the lead. Greenville will travel into North Charleston for a Sunday afternoon matinee.

CURRENT STANDING

61 games played, 36-18-5-2 (W-L-OTL-SOL), 79 points, 1st in South Division