JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Andrew Cherniwchan scored three times and Jonathan Charbonneau had three assists as the South Carolina Stingrays (26-26-5-0) came from behind in the third period to defeat the Jacksonville Icemen (29-24-2-2) for the first time at the Veterans Memorial Arena in their final regular season game in the building by a score of 5-2 on Friday night.
Rays’ netminder Parker Milner earned the win in between the pipes by stopping 30 shots in the game, while forward Grant Besse added a goal and an assist and defender Tim Davison picked up two helpers in South Carolina’s second win over the Icemen this season. The team’s first victory since Feb. 2 kept them in fourth place in the South Division standings and in possession of the final postseason spot in the division.
Cherniwchan was able to score the first goal of the game for the second consecutive day, giving the Rays a 1-0 advantage at 2:46 of the first period. While SC had an offensive zone possession, the puck bounced from the left wall to the center and Cherniwchan got to the biscuit first and fired a shot past the glove of Jacksonville goaltender Tanner Jaillet. Assists on the play were given to defender Tim Davison and forward Jonathan Charbonneau.
Jacksonville’s Wacey Rabbit evened the score at 8:36 of the second with a shot from the top of the left circle in the SC end. The two teams remained tied up at 1-1 for the remainder of the second and headed to the final frame in a deadlock.
The Icemen took their first lead of the game at 14:20 of the third period when Kris Newbury re-directed a pass to the top right corner of the SC net, putting Jacksonville on top 2-1.
But Cherniwchan responded by taking over the game. Less than a minute after Newbury had given the Icemen the lead, the Hinton, Alberta native had the puck behind the Jacksonville net. While pinned in on the wall, the attacker banked the puck off of the back of the net to himself to create space before backhanding it into the top shelf for his second of the night to tie the game 2-2 at 15:11. Assists on the tying goal came from Besse and Charbonneau.
Cherniwchan wasn’t done, scoring his third goal of the game to complete the first hat trick of the season for South Carolina just over a minute later at 16:34. This time the forward used a forehand wrist shot from the goal line to beat Jaillet for his 24th goal of the year with assists by Patrick Megannety as well as Davison.
South Carolina added two empty net goals in the final minutes of the game to seal the win, with Besse connecting for his 25th of the year at 18:21 from Charbonneau and defenseman Steve Johnson scoring unassisted at 19:53. Johnson’s strike was his first as a member of the Rays.
Jacksonville, who had the only two man-advantage opportunities of the game, were unsuccessful on the power play at 0-for-2. Jailet made 14 saves in the contest for the Icemen as Jacksonville outshot SC 32-19 in the game.