Stingrays’ streak goes in reverse

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC-The South Carolina Stingrays have been on a streak of late, in fact two streaks. Their fans no doubt like the previous six game win streak better than the recent results. On Saturday night 2,862 at the North Charleston Coliseum saw a heart breaker as South Carolina dropped a 3-2 decision in overtime to the Gwinnett Gladiators.
The loss, number three in a row, came in the wake of a six game string of victories that seemed to portend a change in fortunes for the team. The two most recent losses came in tonight’s OT and in a shootout loss against Greenville to make the losses more difficult to accept.
The ‘Rays (13-13-4) 30 points and losing goal tender Jeff Jakaitis, who made 30 saves on 33 shots, appeared on their way to a win. However, a late goal with just under 22 seconds left in regulation tied the game 2-2 and set up the Gladiator’s OT victory. Winning goalie Louis Domingue had been pulled for the extra attacker and the Gladiators used the extra man to grab the game tying score.
A wild scramble in front of the net and a strong effort from below the end line sealed the ‘Rays fate. First, forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel dug the puck out along the end boards and centered it into the crease to set up a tap-in deflection by Tyler Murovich for the 2-2 tie. The strike put the fans who had been mostly standing and counting down the time back into their seats.
Next up Pierro-Zabotel got the game winner with 1:39 left in overtime. His score came after a couple of nice saves by Domingue at the other end that looked like sure goals early in the extra five minute four on four frame. Pierro-Zabotel hammered home a rebound off a shot by defenseman Cody Brookwell to claim the two points for the Gladiators. Gwinnett (19-7-1) 39 points currently holds the overall lead in the ECHL Eastern Conference.
The visitors struck first in the game as Evan Bloodoff corralled a puck in front of the crease at the 12:37 mark to stake his team to a 1-0 lead. The ‘Rays tied the score in the first period less than two minutes later. Hunter Bishop and defenseman Luka Vidmar who played a very physical game set up Matthew Pistilli at 14:36. The goal came on a power play.
In what was a foretaste of the late game tying goal by Gwinnett South Carolina took a 2-1 lead with less than a second remaining in period two. The clock showed .7 seconds left when the red light went on. Forward Andrew Cherniwchan slightly deflected a blast from the point by Kevin Quick to temporarily stun the Gladiators. Tyler McNeely got the secondary assist on the goal.
Rookie ECHL referee Chris Pitoscia whistled down 13 penalties in the game that was hard hitting but generally devoid of post whistle scrums. He assessed one pair of coincidental majors for fighting as Gladiators’ forward John Scrymgeour and ‘Rays’ defenseman Scooter Vaughn tangled in a quick third period no decision tussle. Pitoscia and the two linesmen assigned to the game, Kyle DeMaggio and Mike Sheehan, are graduates of the Officiating Development Program sponsored by USA Hockey.
South Carolina plays next in Cincinnati on Friday night as they commence a four game road swing. They will return to home ice on December 29, 2012.
Contact the author at Phil.Brand@prohockeynews.com
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