NORFOLK, Va. - Trailing by a goal entering the third period, the South Carolina Stingrays (3-1-0-0) piled up 25 shots in the final 20 minutes, but were unable to erase their deficit and suffered their first loss of the 2019-20 season to the Norfolk Admirals (2-3-0-0) by a score of 5-2 on Wednesday night at the Norfolk Scope.
Admirals’ goaltender Brandon Halverson stole the show in the contest, making 45 saves to earn his team a victory. SC forward Casey Bailey accounted for both Stingrays goals in the loss and now has four on the season through just four games which leads the club.
South Carolina got ahead first in the opening period when, just after serving a penalty for interference, Mark Cooper took a pass from defender Tommy Hughes and fed Bailey in front for a quick one-timer that put the Rays on top 1-0. The goal, which was scored at 7:58, gave Bailey tallies in all three of SC’s road contests so far this season.
Norfolk’s Philippe Hudon tied the game at 1-1 later in the frame at 15:56 on a deflection in front of the SC net and the two teams were even after the first.
Despite lots of possession and chances for the Stingrays in the middle period, the Admirals scored the only goal of the frame and took their first lead of the game when Alex Rodriguez netted his third tally of the season to make it 2-1 at 15:22.
South Carolina dominated most of the possession in the third but cost themselves with penalty trouble. Norfolk scored back-to-back power play goals less than a minute apart at 5:51 and 6:34 to push their lead out to 4-1. Johnny Coughlin and John Gustafsson were the goal scorers for the Admirals.
Bailey’s second goal of the game came off a face-off win by Matthew Weis at 8:42 of the third and got the Stingrays back within two with just over 11 minutes to play.
But, after a barrage of chances by South Carolina were kept out of the net by Halverson and a disallowed goal which Cole Ully scored just after the referee had blown the play dead in front of the Norfolk net, the Admirals put the game out of reach with an empty net goal from Hudon at 19:14.
The Stingrays’ season-high 47 shots on goal more than doubled Norfolk’s 23 chances. The Admirals, however, went 3-of-5 on the power play in the game, while SC finished 0-for-3. Goaltender Logan Thompson made 18 shots for the Stingrays in a losing effort.