Kelly Zajac scored twice and Jeff Jakaitis made 19 saves in another impressive defensive performance by the South Carolina Stingrays (17-5-3-1) to defeat the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (15-11-2-0) by a score of 3-1 at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Thursday night.
In the first of three games in three consecutive days this week, forward Tim McGauley assisted on both of Zajac’s goals in the second period while defenseman Frankie Simonelli also picked up two helpers in the victory.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the first 20 minutes and the game remained scoreless at the start of the second period.
Zajac broke the ice at 7:11 of the middle frame after going to the net and receiving a pass from McGauley before quickly putting the puck past goaltender Ty Rimmer and into the back of the net. Zajac’s sixth goal of the season was assisted by defenseman Paul Geiger.
The Winnipeg, Man. native doubled South Carolina’s lead to 2-0 just four minutes later, scoring his second of the night at 11:13 on another pass by McGauley. The forward was positioned perfectly in front of the net for a backhand pass by McGauley who moved to the right side of the Greenville cage and finished the play with his seventh goal of the year. Simonelli added the second assist on the score for his first helper of the night.
Patrick Megannety scored his third goal of the year, all coming against the Swamp Rabbits, to give the Rays an insurance marker and make it 3-0 at 2:30 of the final period. Assists on the goal went to defensemen Simonelli and Marcus Perrier.
The Swamp Rabbits got on the board with a power play tally by forward Evan Jasper at 15:51 of the third, but it was all Greenville could muster on the scoresheet.
South Carolina outshot the Swamp Rabbits 35-20 in the contest as they controlled most of the play. Rimmer finished with 32 saves in a losing effort, while Greenville’s goal came on the man-advantage, finishing 1-for-2 on the power play in the game. The Stingrays were officially 0-for-1 on the power play, but Zajac scored just 1 second after Joe Houk came out of the penalty box at 11:12 of the second period.
The Stingrays return home to face the Atlanta Gladiators on Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum at 7:05 p.m.