DULUTH, GA (Stingrays) - The South Carolina Stingrays (14-11-0-0) and Atlanta Gladiators (5-12-4-0) went back and forth on Sunday afternoon at the Infinite Energy Center, scoring a total of 11 goals. But in the end, Cam Askew had the final strike to give the Rays a 6-5 decision and stay unbeaten against the Glads this season.
Tad Kozun scored twice in the game for South Carolina, while Jonathan Charbonneau netted a goal and two assists and Shane Eiserman scored a goal and an assist against his former club. In total, 12 of the Stingrays’ 16 skaters registered a point in the contest.
Atlanta’s Nolan LaPorte scored on the Glads’ first shot of the game off a pass from defender Zach Malatesta 47 seconds into the contest, giving the home team a 1-0 advantage.
Kozun evened the contest at 1-1 with his sixth goal of the season at 4:01 of the first from Charbonneau and captain Joey Leach.
Charbonneau threw the puck to the net and after an initial save by goaltender Miro Svoboda and Kozun jammed the biscuit free before an Atlanta skater knocked it into the net to give SC their first strike of the game. Charbonneau then gave the Stingrays a 2-1 lead with his sixth of the year at 11:29 of the first, scoring on the power play from forward Sam Fioretti and Tim Davison.
Eiserman pushed the advantage to 3-1 early on in the second period at 2:08, scoring with a shot from the low slot that also came with assists by Fioretti and Davison.
But Atlanta responded with two tallies less than a minute apart to even the contest at 3-3. First, Brett McKenzie hit the back of the net at 11:28, before David Mazurek scored his first ECHL goal at 11:28. The two teams entered the third period all tied up.
Although the Rays outshot Atlanta 19-8 in the final stanza, the Gladiators hung around and kept it close, until Askew’s final dagger. Atlanta made a goaltending change at the start of the third period, bringing on Colton Phinney.
Defenseman Mike Chen scored his second goal of the season to give SC a 4-3 lead at 2:35 of the third, throwing a puck on net from the right wing that also got knocked in by an Atlanta skater. Assists on the play were given to Eiserman and defender Cam Bakker.
LaPorte scored his second of the game to tie things up 4-4 at 3:12 of the third. SC re-took the lead at 5-4 on Kozun’s second of the game at 13:30 of the final period. Forward Andrew Cherniwchan started the chance in the slot with a pass to Charbonneau, who moved it across the crease for a tap-in finish by Kozun.
After LaPorte potted his third goal of the contest at 15:30 to once again even the score at 5-5, Askew chipped the puck to the back of the net past Phinney for the game-winner from defender Kevin McKernan and forward Patrick Gaul at 17:32.
For the second consecutive day, South Carolina won the special teams battle, scoring twice on the power play in six chances. The Rays finished their 3-game weekend with a total of six man-advantage goals. Atlanta was 0-for-2 on the power play in the contest.
Stingrays’ goaltender Gordon Defiel got the start and earned his second win of the year, stopping 24 shots in the victory. Svoboda turned aside 20 shots for the Gladiators, while Phinney made 16 saves in his third period relief effort.