Kris Bindulis helped the South Carolina Stingrays (24-9-3-1) overcome a last-minute push from the Norfolk Admirals (13-19-5-1), scoring at 1:45 of overtime to secure a 3-2 victory on Friday night at the Norfolk Scope.
In addition to Bindulis’ overtime winner, Hampus Gustafsson scored his first professional goal and Tim McGauley added his seventh tally of the season, while Steven Whitney added two assists and Parker Milner stopped 35 shots.
Milner was perfect for almost all of regulation, holding Norfolk off the scoreboard until there were just 19 seconds remaining on the clock. The netminder picked up his 11th victory of the season and came within seconds of recording his first shutout.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the first period, but SC got on the board first to take the lead at 2:03 of the middle period when Gustafsson fired a turnaround shot at the net from the right circle in the Admirals’ zone. The low shot snuck underneath Norfolk goaltender Ty Reichenbach to give South Carolina a 1-0 advantage.
Just 1:21 later, McGauley picked up a loose puck at the side of the Norfolk net after an initial chance by Whitney and used a great stickhandling move to bring it around the side of Reichenbach before slipping it into the goal to make it 2-0. The second-year forward now has seven goals on the season for the Stingrays.
With Milner on his game and the defense standing strong, the Rays held their two-goal advantage into the final minutes.
After a timeout with 45 seconds to go, the Admirals pulled Reichenbach for an extra attacker. Forward Grant Besse had a chance and blasted the puck towards the net. A redirection by Thomas Frazee got the shot past Milner with just 19 seconds remaining to make it 2-1.
Domenic Alberga then tied things up at 2-2 with less than a second remaining on the clock, scoring on a rebound in front for his seventh goal of the year.
With the momentum in Norfolk’s favor as the teams headed to the extra session, the Stingrays had to shake off an early chance from the Admirals in the opening seconds of the overtime.
But forward Joe Devin led the charge back into the Norfolk end and eventually found Bindulis for a wrister on the right circle that beat Reichenbach to end the game. Whitney was credited with the second assist on the defender’s third goal of his rookie campaign.
Norfolk had the edge in shots during the contest, besting the Stingrays 37-29. Neither team was able to convert on the man-advantage, each finishing 0-for-2 on the night. Reichenbach took the loss for the Admirals, making 26 saves.
The two teams meet again on Saturday night in Norfolk, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.