NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The South Carolina Stingrays (39-10-3-1) used a 4-goal second period to blow past the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (24-26-3-1) on their way to a fifth straight win on Tuesday night by a score of 6-2 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Six different skaters found the back of the net for South Carolina and four had multi-point efforts led by Eddie Wittchow and Mark Cooper who each had a goal and an assist in the victory. Goaltender Logan Thompson made the start and turned aside 26 shots to earn his 20th win of the season for the Stingrays.
South Carolina leads all ECHL teams in the standings with 39 wins, 82 points and a points percentage of 0.774.
The Swamp Rabbits took an early 1-0 lead 3:59 into the opening period on a goal by Matt Marcinew.
But the Stingrays responded 31 seconds later when forward Alec Marsh, who signed with the team earlier in the day, scored his first ECHL goal on his first shift and first shot on goal with South Carolina. Marsh came down the left wing and looked for a pass in front to his linemate Cam Askew, but it got blocked. He then got control of the puck back and waited out goaltender Jeremy Helvig before wristing a shot into the net. The tally evened the game at 1-1 and came with assists from Askew and defender Tariq Hammond.
The Rays took a 2-1 lead later in the period when forward Max Novak found defender Jordan Klimek open on the back door for his fifth goal of the season. Klimek, who had not appeared in a game since Dec. 28 due to injury, made the chance count in the first period of his return on Tuesday. The second assist on the goal, which came at 16:59 of the opening frame, went to Wittchow.
South Carolina extended their lead with four tallies during the middle frame, starting when Dan DeSalvo scored his 19th of the year from Cooper and Wittchow at 7:27 to make it 3-1.
Then Wittchow started a streak of three straight power play goals at 9:53 when he scored his fifth of the season from forwards Matthew Weis and Cole Ully during a 5-on-3 man-advantage. Cooper made it 5-1 just 27 seconds later with his 17th of the year from Askew at 10:20 of the second.
Finally, team captain Andrew Cherniwchan scored for the sixth straight game to make it 6-1, netting a power play goal with less than 10 seconds to go in the frame from Novak and Cooper. Cherniwchan leads the Stingrays with 26 goals on the year, which is second-most in the ECHL.
Greenville got one closer in the third on a strike by Kamerin Nault at 9:31 but was unable to get anything else by Thompson in the closing minutes of the game. South Carolina has won six of their first eight meetings against the Swamp Rabbits this season. The two teams have one matchup left to take place in Greenville which will close out the Stingrays’ regular season on April 1.
South Carolina outshot Greenville 32-28 in the game and finished 3-for-7 on the power play while holding the Swamp Rabbits to 0-for-1 on the man-advantage. Helvig made 22 saves in a losing effort for his team before he was replaced in the third period by Jake Kupsky, who turned aside four shots in the final 20 minutes.