NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The South Carolina Stingrays completed the weekend sweep of the Wheeling Nailers on Saturday night in front of 2500 fans at the North Charleston Coliseum by beating the Nailers by a score of 6-3. Ten Stingrays players picked up points on the evening, with five of those players notching multi-point games.
The scoring opened quickly, with Darien Craighead scoring his first professional goal just 56 seconds into the game with assists from Justin Florek and Zach Malatesta. Matt Alfaro and Patrick Watling scored the next two for Wheeling to put them ahead 2-1. The Stingrays answered in the last four minutes when Caleb Herbert fed Mason Morelli a pass to even the score at two. The last four minutes of the opening period were very physical as both teams tried to find an edge in the game.
The second period featured back and forth chances, with Stingrays goalie Alex Dubeau and Wheeling netminder Shane Starrett making several highlight-worthy saves. The Stingrays scored the first of their three power-play goals on the night at 13:26 of the middle frame as Cole Ully scored after being set up by Dan DeSalvo and Max Gottlieb. Herbert extended the lead to 4-2 less than three minutes later with assists from Max Novak and Ully. Although he did not show up on the scoresheet, Herbert’s goal was set up by defenseman Doyle Somerby. Somerby went deep into Wheeling the zone, applying pressure and keeping the Nailers on their heels, which allowed the Stingrays to set up for their fourth goal of the evening.
The final period started quickly as the Stingrays scored their second power-play goal of the evening came when Dylan Steman scored off of assists from Herbert and Malatesta to stretch the lead to 5-2. Former Stingray Cody Sylvester narrowed the gap at the 13:00 mark to bring the Nailers back into the game. Steman sealed the deal at 6-3 when he scored an empty-net power-play goal with 70 seconds remaining.
On this night, the power play finally found success, going 3-for-9, while the penalty kill unit was a perfect 6-for-6. Wheeling constantly stretched the ice and caught South Carolina’s defenders out of position several times. However, the defenders were quick to get back, and Dubeau made several great stops to keep the Stingrays ahead in the game.
The Stingrays should be pleased with their performance over the weekend. Wheeling brought a brand of physicality that they had not seen yet, and they responded appropriately throughout the series. Additionally, several different players came in and out of the lineup, and all of the lines and defensive pairs continued to produce the results they were looking for.
South Carolina improved to 6-1-3-0 on the season and has won three straight games. They will continue their homestand next weekend when they host the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Friday and Saturday, before ending it with a Monday matinee game against the Jacksonville Icemen. After that, the Stingrays hit the road for six games, paying visits to Wheeling, Florida, and Orlando.
Travis Rogers covers the South Carolina Stingrays for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinStingrays.