The South Carolina Stingrays (18-6-3-1) defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (15-12-2-1) in dramatic fashion Saturday night at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, winning a shootout in the third round and picking up two points with a 3-2 victory.
Initially the Rays had been declared a winner after goaltender Jeff Jakaitis stopped Branden Troock in the top of the third round during the skills competition. But after further discussion, the call was changed to a goal and South Carolina, who had left the ice, had to come back out to complete the game. Defenseman Frankie Simonelli was the next shooter for the Stingrays and left no doubts, beating Greenville goaltender Ty Rimmer with a wrist shot to seal the win.
Forward Tim McGauley had both regulation goals for South Carolina and also scored in the shootout, while Jakaitis stopped 30 shots to earn his 10th win of the season.
Greenville had the initial lead in the game, scoring first at 14:27 of the first period when Carter Sandlak put home a rebound. The Swamp Rabbits made it 2-0 just 53 seconds into the second on a tally by Joe Basaraba.
But the Stingrays started the comeback just a few minutes after Basaraba’s goal when McGauley put home his third of the season on the power play after finding a rebound that was loose in front of the net. The forward lifted the biscuit up into the air and over Rimmer to get South Carolina on the board and within a goal at 2-1. Assists on the tally came from Simonelli and forward Kelly Zajac.
McGauley then evened the game with his second of the night just 48 seconds into the third period from defenseman Kris Bindulis and forward Steven Whitney. Bindulis, who was positioned at the left point, got the puck to McGauley in front of the net, who slipped a backhand shot under Rimmer to tie the game at 2-2.
South Carolina doubled up the Swamp Rabbits in shots on goal 20-10 during the third period, but neither team was able to get the puck past the opposing goaltender and the two headed for overtime.
McGauley and Simonelli got the Stingrays the extra point in the shootout and SC goes home for the holiday with 40 points in the standings, good for second place in the South Division.
South Carolina outshot Greenville 47-32 in the game and went 1-for-4 on the power play while holding Greenville to an 0-for-2 mark on the man-advantage. Rimmer turned aside 45 shots for the Swamp Rabbits in a losing effort.
The Stingrays return to action with a home-and-home series against the Atlanta Gladiators next week that begins Friday night at the Infinite Energy Center at 7:35 p.m. The series shifts to North Charleston the following night on Saturday, with puck drop scheduled for 7:05.