The Colorado Eagles scored with 24 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game before forward Matt Garbowsky struck at 6:04 of overtime to defeat the South Carolina Stingrays 5-4 in Game 3 of the 2017 Kelly Cup Finals presented by Crews Chevrolet and ABC News 4 on Sunday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Eagles now have a 3-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 scheduled for Monday night at 7:05 p.m.
South Carolina got goals from four different scorers, including Kelly Zajac, Andrew Cherniwchan, Steven McParland and Joe Devin. Both Rob Flick and Steve Weinstein each contributed two assists for the Stingrays in the loss.
Zajac opened the scoring at 7:06 of the first period with a power play strike from Flick and Cherniwchan after some great puck movement by the forwards in the offensive zone. Cherniwchan got speed through neutral ice and brought puck low in the Eagles’ zone before finding Flick who faked a shot and passed back-door to Zajac who had the whole Colorado net to shoot at for his sixth goal of the postseason.
Colorado tied the score at 1-1 on Julian Nantel’s eighth playoff goal at 14:51 and the two teams were even at the end of the opening frame.
Just 1:08 into the second, Cherniwchan re-took the lead for South Carolina with his seventh goal of the postseason on a rebound after an initial shot by Flick. Weinstein, who had the second helper on the play, got the puck to Flick in open space and the forward fired a shot from the right circle in the Colorado end that was stopped by goaltender Lukas Hafner. But the rebound bounced out to Cherniwchan who had no problem burying it for the goal to give the Rays a 2-1 advantage.
The Eagles once again tied the game later in the second when defenseman Sergei Boikov blasted a shot past SC goaltender Parker Milner at 12:09 to even things at 2-2.
McParland scored 3:29 later to put the Rays back in front at 3-2 on an individual effort for his third goal in as many games during the Kelly Cup Finals. The forward blocked a shot in his own zone and then raced down the left wing and used a defenseman as a screen before wristing the puck to the top right corner of the Colorado net. The Schreiber, Ont. native now has seven postseason goals in 21 playoff contests.
South Carolina held their advantage for the first half of the third period but Eagles’ defenseman Jake Marto evened the game at 3-3 with a tally at 10:09.
But for the fourth time in the contest, the Stingrays took another one-goal lead, with Devin knocking a rebound past Hafner to make it 4-3 South Carolina on the power play at 16:19 of the third. Derek Arnold had the first assist on the goal, while Weinstein added the second helper.
For the second time in the series, the Eagles knotted the game in the final minute of regulation. This time it was defenseman Matt Register who scored on the power play at 19:35 to tie the game at 4-4 and force overtime.
In the extra session, Garbowsky scored his fourth goal of the series and the Eagles skated off the North Charleston Coliseum ice with a 3-0 series lead.
Hafner was the winning netminder for Colorado with 26 saves in the game while Milner shouldered the loss for the Stingrays on 27 stops.
South Carolina was 2-for-4 on the power play, while Colorado was 1-for-5, with their only man-advantage strike coming as the tying goal in the final minute.
-per Charleston RiverDogs