Stingrays Advance To 2021 Kelly Cup Finals
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Goals from Matthew Weis and Max Novak along with 29 saves from goaltender Hunter Shepard sent the South Carolina Stingrays past the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and into the 2021 Kelly Cup Finals with a 2-1 victory on Monday night at the Carolina Ice Palace.
South Carolina won the best-of-5 Eastern Conference Finals series three games to one and will play either the Allen Americans or Fort Wayne Komets in the league’s championship round beginning on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the Carolina Ice Palace. Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Finals will also take place in North Charleston on Sunday at 6:05 p.m.
After a scoreless first period in which each team put eight shots on net, Weis got the Rays on the board first with his fourth goal of the postseason during a major power play advantage. With Greenville’s Garrett Thompson in the penalty box for five minutes after a charging infraction, SC capitalized off a face-off win. Weis used a wrist shot from the left point that went off the right post and in to make it 1-0. Assists on the play went to forward Caleb Herbert, who won the face-off, as well as defender Max Gottlieb.
Novak made it 2-0 for SC at 4:02 of the third with his third goal of the series to give the team some much-needed insurance. Cole Ully started a rush down the right wing and fed the puck to Weis, who drew the defense in his direction before dishing to Novak for a one-timer that beat goaltender John Lethemon.
The Rays’ second tally turned out to be the game-winner after Greenville responded with a quick strike 35 seconds later. Ben Finkelstein scored for the Swamp Rabbits off a face-off at 4:37 of the final frame.
But Greenville was unable to get any closer in the closing minutes of the game as the Stingrays defense held strong in front of Shepard. SC allowed just nine shots on goal in the final period with the Swamp Rabbits attempting to come from behind.
In total, Greenville led in shots-on-goal 30-23 with Lethemon stopping 21 shots in a losing effort. South Carolina was 1-for-6 on the man-advantage and held the Swamp Rabbits to 0-for-1.