NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - Frankie Simonelli secured two points for the South Carolina Stingrays (21-8-3-1) by completing a hat trick 22 seconds into overtime to defeat the Norfolk Admirals (13-17-3-1) 5-4 in comeback fashion on Tuesday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The hat trick was the first by any Rays player this season and gives Simonelli seven goals on the season. The defender tied the game in the third period and then finished things off on South Carolina's first shot of overtime.
Kelly Zajac also had a big night for the Stingrays with a goal and two assists, while Tim McGauley picked up two helpers and Joe Devin converted on a breakaway for his 11th goal of the year. Goaltender Parker Milner got the win, making 18 saves after coming in during the second period in a relief effort.
Zajac got the Rays on the board first with his eighth of the season at 6:55 of the first period. A wrist shot blocker side found its way into the back of the cage, going down as an unassisted goal.
Norfolk registered two goals later in the frame against goaltender Adam Carlson on shots by forward Thomas Frazee at 14:14 and Christian Horn at 16:05.
South Carolina tied it back up at 2-2 when Simonelli scored his first of the night on the power play at 17:52 of the first. Taylor Cammarata hit the Bensenville, Ill. native with a perfect pass through the crease and Simonelli finished off the play with a shot up high over goaltender Ty Reichenbach. McGauley got credited with the second assist on the power play strike that took just 11 seconds to set up with the man-advantage.
After Grant Besse scored to give Norfolk a 3-2 lead at 1:09 of the second, Stingrays head coach Ryan Warsofsky made the move to go with goaltender Parker Milner.
The Admirals then made it 4-2 on a goal off a deflection that was credited to forward Patrick D'Amico at 2:59 of the middle period.
But Devin got the Rays back within one at 4-3 with a breakaway tally at 10:20 of the second period during a 4-on-4 situation. The team's captain got ahead of everyone and beat Reichenbach with a wrist shot glove side. A single assist on the goal went to defenseman Kris Bindulis.
Simonelli tied things up at 4-4 with the only goal of the third period at 9:11, scoring his second of the night from a bad angle at the side of the Norfolk net. Assists were credited to Zajac and McGauley, who got the puck to Simonelli down low for the equalizer.
Without any other third period tallies, the game went into the extra session for 3-on-3 play. The Admirals won the face-off to begin OT, but after Milner made a quick save on Besse the Stingrays grabbed the puck and headed up ice. Eventually, Whitney got loose behind the Norfolk net in the offensive zone and fed the puck to Simonelli for a quick shot to the top left corner of the net to win the game. Zajac, the other attacker on the ice for South Carolina, was credited with the second assist for his third point of the game.
Zajac and Devin are now tied for the team lead with 27 points apiece on the season.
South Carolina had the only power play goal of the night to win the special teams battle, going 1-for-3 in the game while Norfolk was held to 0-for-3. Reichenbach took the loss for Norfolk, despite totaling 34 saves and Carlson's night ended with six saves in 21:09 of play. The Stingrays outshot the Admirals 39-28 in the game.
South Carolina returns to the ice this weekend for three home games in three days at the North Charleston Coliseum beginning on Friday night against Atlanta at 7:05 p.m.