North Charleston, SC – In the end it was everything that had gotten the Stingrays to the playoffs that helped them move on to the second round tonight. South Carolina’s penalty killing unit kept Kalamazoo off the board to allow the Stingrays potent offense to explode. Both elements backed by another solid effort in net by Vitek Vanecek proved to be too much for Kalamazoo as the Strings won 5-1 and took the series 4 games to 1.
The league’s number one penalty kill unit was called upon early as the Stingrays took four consecutive penalties. Despite missing one of their best PKers in Patrick Gual, the unit was very effective in keeping the Wings to the outside and forcing them in to low percentage long range shots. Kalamazoo went 0/4 on the powerplay and just about the only positive was that they managed to keep the puck away from the Stingrays offense. The goalpost behind Joel Martin would keep the first period scoreless.
The grinders for the Stingrays would find the net first after hemming Kalamazoo in its own zone. Defenseman Nick Jones took advantage of a scramble around Joel Martin to bury his 2nd goal of the playoffs from Stephan Vigier and Trevor Gillies at the 10:13 mark of the second. The Stingrays would strike again just 41 seconds later on the Powerplay on a deflection by Joe Devin for his 5th of the playoffs. Stephan Vigier broke loose and buried his own rebound to put South Carolina up 3-0. Brett Ponich would respond for Kalamazoo with a rocket from the blue line past Vitek to make it 3-1 with just under four minutes to play. The shot counter was definitely not indicative of the play especially in the second period. From the get go, South Carolina had control and didn’t allow the Wings much room to work on offense. Despite the goal, Kalamazoo managed less than two minutes of puck possession time in the offensive zone in the period.
The Wings made a final push in the third period but they could not find a hole in Vitek Vanecek. With five minutes to play, David Pacan found Austin Fyten alone in the slot and Fyten made no mistake to give South Carolina the insurmountable 4-1 lead. Kalamazoo in full desperation mode pulled Martin only to see Joey Leach find the empty net and seal the deal on the series.
Final Series Stats:
South Carolina was 2-1 on the road and 2-0 on home ice.
Leading Scorer for South Carolina was Joe Devin with 7 points (5 goals and 2 Assists) in 5 games. All but one of the 17 skaters that played a game for South Carolina in this series recorded at least one point.
Ludwing Blomstrand and Justin Kovacs both led the way for Kalamazoo with 5 points a piece (2 goals and 3 assists).
Mark Dekanich started three games for South Carolina going 2-1 with a 2.35 Goals Against Average and .894 Save Percentage. Vitek Vanecek started the final two games of the series going 2-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .943 SV %.
Joel Martin started all five games for Kalamazoo and posted a 1-4 record with a 3.84 GAA and .899 SV%.
The Stingrays will move on to face the Adirondack Thunder starting Friday April 29th at 7:05 pm at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Please consider becoming a Patron as a way to say thanks and support us for what we do! https://www.patreon.com/thesinbinhockey