Despite scoring twice in the third period to tie the game, the South Carolina Stingrays (10-3-2-0) surrendered a late third period goal and fell to the Orlando Solar Bears (5-8-3-0) by a final score of 3-2 on Saturday night at the Amway Center.
Tim McGauley and Joe Devin had the tallies for South Carolina in the loss, while goaltender Jeff Jakaitis had a good effort and finished with 24 saves.
Orlando took a 1-0 advantage late in the opening frame on a goal by Max Novak at 18:58 to head into the first intermission ahead by a goal.
The Solar Bears extended the lead in the second when Jean Dupuy made it 2-0 at 4:16 of the middle period with a shot from the slot. South Carolina came up with only five shots in the second and were trailing by two entering the third.
McGauley got his side on the board at 3:34 of the third, knocking home a rebound at the side of the net for his first goal of the season. Assists on South Carolina’s first goal of the game came from defenseman Frankie Simonelli and forward Kelly Zajac, who now leads the squad with nine helpers on the season.
Just 2:19 later it was the team’s captain, Devin, who evened the game at 2-2 with his fifth goal of the season. Devin moved in on goaltender Cal Heeter and took a backhand shot from the left circle that was stopped. But the team leader picked up his own rebound and let go another backhander that bounced by Heeter and into the net to tie the score.
Assists on Devin’s goal were given to linemate Patrick Gaul as well as defenseman Danny Federico.
But Orlando responded and went ahead for good when Dupuy scored his second goal of the game at 12:44 of the third period to make it 3-2. After an initial save by Jakaitis, Dupuy was open for the rebound in front of the Rays’ net and backhanded the loose puck into the cage.
The Stingrays pulled Jakaitis for an extra attacker while on a late power play advantage but could not find a third goal to re-tie the game in the final minutes.
Orlando had the edge in shots on goal for the game, out-shooting SC 27-25 on the night. Heeter finished with 23 saves to earn the win. The Stingrays had the only man-advantage goal of the game and went 1-for-6, while the Solar Bears were 0-for-6 on the power play in the contest.
South Carolina completes their road trip Sunday afternoon with a rematch against the Solar Bears at 1:30 p.m. The Stingrays return to the North Charleston Coliseum to host Orlando on Dec. 2 at 7:05 p.m.