Devin Does it Again; Stingrays Take Series 3-1 Lead

Posted April 21, 2016

(via the Stingrays)

The South Carolina Stingrays were 1-for-10 on the power play coming into Game 4 at the North Charleston Coliseum. On the second power play, the Kalamazoo Wings scored shorthanded and tied the game at two. On a last-minute power play, Joe Devin scored his fourth of the series to win the game and give the Rays a 3-1 series advantage.

Head coach Spencer Carbery started Vitek Vanecek, fresh off his first American Hockey League win with the Hershey Bears, in net after playing Mark Dekanich for three games straight. Vanecek made 27 saves on 29 shots tonight.

The Rays started off on the right foot, working cycles and passing plays deep in the Kalamazoo zone. With the Wings trying to change, Nick Jones sent in Austin Fyten along the boards.

Fyten threw the puck from below the goal line at David Pacan, who whiffed on the shot. Caleb Herbert, trailing the play, fought past the defense of Anton Cederholm to fire the loose puck past Joel Martin.

In the final minute of the first period, Kalamazoo cracked the scoreboard. Alex Mallet drove across the net-mouth, drawing Vanecek to his stick side. Mallet’s shot was saved, but the rebound found him again and Mallet saw Ludwig Blomstrand breaking in through the slot. Blomstrand saw nothing but net as he tapped the pass over the line for his second of the series.

In a second period where the Stingrays outshot Kalamazoo 23-3, Martin stood tall and saved 22 of those shots. Only Devin’s shot off a rebound managed to pierce the twine.

Kelly Zajac tossed a pass to Bobby Shea in the high slot who fired it by the defense to be saved by Martin. The puck popped out to the faceoff dot, where Devin fired a quick snap shot between the blocker and the leg pad to beat Martin, giving the Stingrays a 2-1 lead.

On a carry over man-advantage for South Carolina, already 0-for-2 on the night, the Wings caught a break to tie the game. Zajac tried to thread the needle to hit Devin across the ice, but Evan McEneny got his stick in the way. The ricochet sent Justin Taylor on a 2-on-1 with Lane Scheidl and Colton Saucerman defending.

Saucerman got reinforcement from Stephan Vigier on the backcheck to take away the pass, but Taylor slapped the puck by Vanecek’s outstretched glove 48 seconds into the third.

Over the next 18 minutes, the Wings and Stingrays went back-and-forth, with neither goaltender giving an edge and no official making a questionable call. With 52 seconds to go, the raucous crowd made the whistle almost inaudible, but referees Nic Leduc and Chris Pontes caught the Wings with too many player on the ice. One last chance lay in the hands of the Stingrays’ power play.

The Wings won the faceoff, but Scheidl fanned badly on his clearing attempt, giving possession back to the Rays. Zajac set up Vigier behind the net, who did not hesitate in passing to the tape of Devin. Before Charlie Vasaturo could get his stick down, Devin already sent the puck above Martin’s glove and sent the Coliseum into a frenzy.

The Wings attacked for the last 30 seconds, but time expired on them before they could fire a shot at Vanecek.

The Stingrays can close out the first round and move on to the second round as early as Saturday. The Adirondack Thunder would be the opponent of whoever wins the series by virtue of upsetting the Manchester Monarchs in five games.