NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - Helped by a career-high 49 saves from goaltender Gordon Defiel, the South Carolina Stingrays (19-13-1-0) held off the Worcester Railers (13-15-3-2) 4-1 on Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum for a win in their first game of 2019.
Forwards Grant Besse and Andrew Cherniwchan each scored a goal and an assist for the Stingrays in the win, while defender Vinny Muto posted a goal against his former club.
In his first game back in South Carolina after being reassigned by the Hershey Bears on Thursday, Besse didn’t waste much time getting back on the scoresheet. The University of Wisconsin alum netted his 13th tally of the season 8:08 into the first period to make it 1-0 Stingrays from linemates Cherniwchan and Jonathan Charbonneau.
With the assist, Cherniwchan registered a point for the 11th consecutive game. He leads South Carolina with 37 points this season in 33 games.
Mike Cornell tied the game for Worcester in the middle period, evening the contest at 1-1 with a goal at 8:51 just after a successful penalty kill by the Stingrays.
Cherniwchan re-took the lead for South Carolina with 1:30 to play in the second period, scoring his 16th of the season from Besse and defenseman Cam Bakker to make it 2-1 Stingrays.
The Railers had control of the play in the third period, outshooting SC 20-8. But Defiel starred in the final stanza and stopped all 20 shots he faced.
With just 3:10 to play, Muto found the back of the net for the second consecutive game for South Carolina to make it 3-1, scoring off a feed by forward Josh Gratton, who registered a point in his first game for the Stingrays. Forward Tim Harrison earned the second assist on the late strike.
Defenseman Kevin McKernan added an unassisted empty net goal at 17:54 to seal the win for SC, his fifth tally of the season.
Neither team was able to score on the power play, ending a streak of 10 straight games in which the Stingrays had scored a man-advantage goal. Worcester finished 0-for-7, while South Carolina was 0-for-5.
Goaltender Mitch Gillam made the start in net for the Railers and stopped 27 shots in a losing effort. Worcester outshot South Carolina 50-31 in the game.
The Stingrays hit the road for the remainder of the weekend, playing twice in Orlando against the Solar Bears over the next two days. Saturday’s contest begins at 7 p.m