Stingrays Get 30th Win of Season

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Posted January 18, 2020

via Sarah Hobday

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The South Carolina Stingrays entered Saturday night’s contest as the best team in the league. That will continue after the Rays blitzed the Atlanta Gladiators for three goals in the first 13 minutes of the game.

Tom Parisi’s two goals sandwiched a marker from fellow defender Dylan Zink for a quick 3-0 lead as Parker Milner made 36 saves as South Carolina held on to defeat Atlanta 4-2 on Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.

“We’re happy that we got the two points, but we’re not happy how we got the two points,” Stingrays head coach Steve Bergin said. “We always talk about making teams earn it, and us earring our own results, and I don’t think we did that tonight.”

Parisi opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the contest. Dan DeSalvo won an offensive zone draw in the right circle to Max Novak. Novak laid it off to Parisi who was left all alone by the Gladiators defense. Parisi cut towards the net from the right point and fired a shot past Chris Nell to give the Rays the lead.

Seven and half minutes later, Zink fired a near side shot past Nell on a two-on-two rush. Tim Harrison and Matt Nuttle assisted on the goal.

Five minutes later, the Stingrays had yet another odd man rush and were able to capitalize once more.

Parisi was the trailer on a three-on-two and made no mistake on the chance for his second of the night. Mark Cooper and Novak got the assists on what proved to be the game winner.

“First one, it was off a face-off play, I was actually supposed to pass it to a guy in the slot, but he was covered,” Parisi said. “I just pulled an audible there and took it to the net. Fortunately  caught the goalie a little off guard.

“Then the second one, it was just good d-zone coverage, was able to get a three-on-two rush, and [Dan] DeSalvo drove the net real well, drove the defenseman back. Hit me coming down as the high guy, and [I] kinda just saw far side.”

It looked like the Rays were off and running to a blowout win, until  Avery Peterson shoveled home a loose rebound to give the Gladiators life.

Atlanta almost got within one when Milner turned the puck over behind the net. Milner recovered just in time to get his stick on a shot and the puck trickled just wide of a gaping net with a little less than seven minutes gone in the middle frame.

South Carolina had back-to-back power plays in the latter stages of the period but, were unable to regain the three goal cushion. The Stingrays entered the contest as the second worst unit in the league at just 13.2%. That percentage is going to take another hit as the home side went 0-for-6 on the night.

It took Atlanta just 64 seconds into the final frame to cut the lead down to one. Logan Nelson was sprung on a breakaway and beat Milner on a backhanded shot.

With 11:42 remaining, Atlanta’s Alexey Solovyev took a minor penalty for holding and was given two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, gifting the Rays a four minute power play and a chance to get the insurance marker, but it never came.

With the kill, Atlanta gained momentum and looked destined to tie it. Atlanta’s golden opportunity came when Milner was called for delay of game with 4:06 remaining. However, Andrew Cherniwchan scored on a shorthanded breakaway to restore the Stingrays two goal lead in what was the much needed knockout punch.

With the win, the Stingrays are the first team to reach 30 wins in the ECHL this season, despite playing just 39 games. A little more than halfway through the 72 game regular season, the Rays are right where they want to be. Despite this, Bergin knows theres still things to be improved and make sure the team doesn’t get complacent.

“We’ve had some success and we can’t let that get to us,” DeSalvo said. “Obviously it’s great, but at the same time we got to keep working on the little details.”

“Whatever we’re bad at,” Bergin said. “We always harp on defending. We always harp on our compete level. … We’re always looking at video to see what we can get better at. It’s not to be nit-picky or anything like that. We’re competing for something greater than a couple regular season wins. We know it gets tougher not easier, so we have to be at our best when that time comes.”