GLENS FALLS, NY – The South Carolina Stingrays (6-4) return home to the North Charleston Coliseum needing a pair of victories next week to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. With 21 wins in the regular season on home ice and three so far in the playoffs, the club will need to win Game 6 on Tuesday, May 10, and Game 7 on Wednesday, May 11 to push past the Adirondack Thunder (7-3) in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals series.
The Thunder claimed a 3-2 overtime win Saturday evening in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. Adirondack’s Gunnar Hughes scored the game-winning goal at 11:21 of the extra session to give the Thunder the victory in front of 3,007 fans at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
After falling 6-0 to South Carolina in Game 4, the Thunder responded Saturday with two goals in the opening period to take an early lead. Ben Johnson opened the scoring at 11:14 on a broken play. The puck popped to Michael Kirkpatrick in the slot, and he dished a quick pass to Johnson on the right wing. He beat a sprawled South Carolina goaltender Mark Dekanich to make it 1-0.
Mitchell Heard would be the catalyst for the Thunder’s second goal in the opening period. He intercepted a pass in the defensive zone and charged up ice. He sent a pass to the front of the net, and Greg Wolfe deflected a shot past Dekanich’s blocker for his sixth goal of the postseason with only 1:05 left in the first period.
Caleb Herbert would cut into the lead for South Carolina midway through the second period with his seventh goal of the postseason. Just as a South Carolina power play expired, Austin Fyten collected the puck behind the net. He sent a pass to Herbert on the goal line, and the forward jammed a shot over Adirondack goaltender Ken Appleby‘s shoulder to make it 2-1 Adirondack at 11:01.
The Stingrays continued to press, but the Thunder missed two key opportunities to add to the lead. Kirkpatrick fired high on a breakaway to start the third period and Ryan Lomberg hit the goal post on a shot from the slot.
Still trailing by just a goal, the Stingrays took advantage of a puck that hopped over the Adirondack defender’s stick. Marcus Perrier won a battle for the puck in the slot and made a drop pass to Humphries. The defender took a step towards the goal and snapped a shot over the glove of Appleby to tie the game with just 6:08 to play. Brett Cameron also assisted on Humphries’ first goal of the playoffs.
In overtime, the Thunder nearly won the game just 90 seconds into the extra session. Lomberg beat a defender to a loose puck and raced in on a breakaway. Dekanich denied Lomberg’s backhand attempt with his left pad to keep the two teams playing.
Hughes’ winning goal would come from the left wing. The puck came loose to Hughes off the stick of teammate Patch Alber. Hughes let a wrist shot go through traffic that beat Dekanich, ending the contest, and moving the Thunder to a 3-2 series lead.
The series now shifts to South Carolina for Game 6, and if necessary, Game 7. The puck drops on Game 6 on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:05 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum.