MACON, Ga. – So what did the South Carolina Stingrays do with the momentum gained from the ousting of top-seeded Florida from the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs?
Carry it with them to the conference finals against in-state rival Greenville and wallop the Swamp Rabbits with a forceful punch.
The Stingrays wasted little time in establishing themselves on Wednesday at the Carolina Ice Palace in North Charleston, putting a pair of first-period goals by the Swamp Rabbits Ryan Bednard to lead 2-0.
Greenville never recovered, and the Stingrays took a 5-1 win and more importantly, a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The series shifts to Greenville and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for the second and third games of the series on Friday and Saturday with the final two games of the series back in the low country, if needed, on Monday and Wednesday. Broadcasts of all games of the series will be available on The Sin Bin app.
Hunter Shepard, who has started all six of South Carolina’s postseason games, stopped 26 shots on Wednesday night. The only blemish was a goal by Graham Knott 6:26 into the third period. By then, however, it was a lost cause for Greenville, which gave up two goals in each of the first two periods to trail 4-0 through the first 40 minutes.
South Carolina, which held a 15-4 shots on goal advantage through a period, overwhelmed the Swamp Rabbits on special teams.
While Greenville was 0-for-3 on power plays, South Carolina struck twice on the man advantage, netting a power-play score in the first and second.
Max Novak got things started 11:58 into the game on the power play with an assist from Cole Ully and Dan DeSalvo. The Stingrays needed less than three minutes to lead 2-0, with Dylan Steman doubled the lead with assists from Mark Cooper and Tariq Hammond.
South Carolina continued to overwhelm Greenville in the second, getting a pair of scores from Andrew Cherniwchan to lead 4-0, the first of the pair of goals being on the power play.
Novak would add an empty-net goal late for the final margin.
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