NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – The Orlando Solar bears raced out to a 7-1 shot advantage on the Stingrays with the help of a powerplay just 38 seconds in to the game. South Carolina goalie Mark Dekanich picked up where he left off in his first start since returning from Hershey and withstood the barrage to keep the game scoreless.
A crosschecking call against Brenden Miller put South Carolina on the powerplay at the 8:44 mark. The Stingrays weren’t intimidated by the league’s top road penalty kill as Derek DeBlois buried a one-timer on the powerplay to put the Rays up 1-0.
Rays fans then got a flashback of Game six of last year’s Kelly Cup Finals tonight as a line of thunderstorms knocked out some of the lighting at the Coliseum. Play stopped with 8:09 to remaining in the first. After about a 2-minute delay it was determined the ice was lit enough to resume despite a large portion of the Coliseum lights still out.
The second period was sloppier but the solar bears still pushed the pace and threw 11 more shots at Mark Dekanich. Dekanich again rose to the occasion and the period ended with the score still 1-0 South Carolina.
Orlando forward Eric Faille lost a skate blade and just barely managed to hop back onside to give the Solar Bears room to score the tying goal. Rylan Schwartz scored his 21st from the season from Denver Manderson and Chris Bradely despite protests from Nick D’Agostino and the Stingrays bench that Faille may have interfered on his way to the bench.
Patrick Gaul would respond with his seventh of the season after splitting the defense and firing a shot off the post and in. The Rays seemed to control the play after that strike which came at the 11:42 mark of the third. Orlando forced the Stingrays to ice the puck two consecutive times late but were unable to capitalize. South Carolina picked up the 2-1 victory.
Tonight was the second consecutive game Derek DeBlois has scored the first goal of the game for the Stingrays. Derek has three points since returning from AHL Lake Eerie.
The Stingrays penalty kill continued to continue forcing the 4th ranked Orlando powerplay to go 0/5 on the powerplay. Mark Dekanich was a big part of that making 30 saves on 31 shots.
South Carolina is nearly unbeatable when leading after two. The Rays improved 32-1-1-0 holding a lead at start of the third period.
Playoff seeding is still to be decided but the Rays cannot finish lower than fourth in the conference. South Carolina still trails Toledo by two points but is now three. points up on Florida who lost to Atlanta in regulation.