NORFOLK, VA – With Norfolk out of the playoff hunt it appeared early on as though the Admirals would play the role of spoiler. The Stingrays weren’t about to let that happen and exploded for six unanswered to secure the South Division title and the second seed in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Admirals took advantage of a slow start by South Carolina and raced out to a 6-1 shot advantage. The Stingrays would survive a penalty kill and it looked like they might escape the period scoreless when Braden Christoffer beat Mark Dekanich for his 13th goal of the season from Greg Chase and Danick Gauthier. That same line would strike again three minutes later, with Greg Chase scoring his 17th of the season. The Stingrays responded with a crucial late goal from Austin Fyten (9th of the season) with just ten seconds left in the period.
The Stingrays hottest line of Caleb Herbert, David Pacan and Austin Fyten picked up right right where they left off at the end of the first. Herbert scored his ninth goal of the season just 30 seconds in to the second period. The score sheet was all South Carolina from there. Kelly Zajac added a pair of goals to give the Stingrays the 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Joe Devin and Caleb Herbert would score less than two minutes apart in the third to lock down the 6-2 victory.
Nicklas Lundstrom made 20 saves on 26 shots in his Admirals debut. Mark Dekanich stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced for his 19th win of the season. Dekanich’s .928 save percentage is tied for first in the ECHL with Missouri’s Josh Robinson.
The Stingrays (43-18-7-3, 96 points) have now gone 15 games since their last regulation loss, which came on February 28th.
The line of Caleb Herbert, David Pacan and Austin Fyten has found serious chemistry and each player has put together a three-game point streak. Herbert is the hottest with seven points in his last three games.
Offensive depth has been a key for the Stingrays as seven players on the active roster have 10 or more goals.
South Carolina will be the 2nd seed in the Kelly Cup playoffs with Toledo’s overtime win against Kalamazoo. The Stingrays will have to wait for Saturday’s results to see who will land in the 7th seed and be their opponent in the first round.
The Stingrays will close out the regular season on Saturday in Norfolk against the Admirals at 7:15 pm.
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