The South Carolina Stingrays (36-25-5-3) clinched an ECHL-record 19 Kelly Cup Playoff berth with a 5-1 victory over the Gwinnett Gladiators (41-26-2-1) in front of 8,064 on Hall of Fame Night presented by the Post and Courier and Fan Appreciation Night Friday at the North Charleston Coliseum. The Stingrays finished the 2012-13 regular-season home schedule on a season-high 14-game home point streak (12-0-2-0).
Stingrays forward Patrick Gaul kicked off the scoring 5:20 into the first period deflecting a shot from defenseman Damon Kipp under the glove of Gladiators goaltender Mike Lee (L, 6 saves on 10 shots). Forward Andrew Sackrison earned the second assist. Moments later, defenseman Scooter Vaughan made it a two-goal Stingrays lead at 8:03 from forwards Jay Silvia and Chris Langkow.
The Stingrays carried the play into the second period with three goals in the first six minutes to take a 5-0 advantage. Kipp lit the lamp 29 seconds into the frame with an unassisted goal capitalizing off of a Gladiators turnover. At the 1:27 mark, Langkow slipped a shot under the left pad of Lee from the left-wing circle for his 19 goal of the season from defenseman Ryan McGinnis. After the tally, Lee was pulled in favor of netminder Jody O'Neill (16 saves on 17 shots). Forward Peter Boyd made it a five-goal lead at 5:19 from forwards Alex MacLeod and Robby Dee. The Gladiators jumped on the board and wrapped up the game scoring with a shorthanded goal at 11:48 from forward Doug Jones slipping a backhanded shot past the blocker of Stingrays goalie Ryan Zapolski (W, 37 saves on 38 shots).
The Stingrays finished the game 0-for-6 on the power play while the Gladiators went 0-for-2.
The Stingrays wrap up the regular-season series against the Gladiators tomorrow, Saturday, March 23 at 7:05 p.m. at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.