Cherniwchan Makes Hats Fly, But Stingrays Fall in OT
Andrew Cherniwchan Netted the First Stingrays Hat Trick since February 23, 2020
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – Andrew Cherniwchan netted the first South Carolina Stingrays (7-6-2-0) hat trick tonight since Steve Whitney did so on February 23, 2020. However, Ben Freeman’s overtime goal gave the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (7-7-0-0) their second straight overtime victory over the Stingrays on Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum by a score of 7-6.
Greenville opened the scoring as Diego Cuglietta sniped his 5th goal of the season past Hunter Shepard from the right circle. The Rays stormed back with three of their own beginning with a rebound from Justin Florek one minute and 32 seconds later, cleaning up an initial shot from Cherniwchan. With the helper, Cherniwchan move into sole possession of 6 th place with 150 franchise assists, passing Pierre-Luc O’Brien.
Six minutes later, Lawton Courtnall saw an open lane and a crashing line mate, firing one off the tape of Alex Brink for the redirection from in front of the net on the power play. Cherniwchan doubled the lead with a highlight reel play, making a toe-drag past the defender, providing a one-on-one with the Greenville goaltender before tallying his fifth of the season.
Greenville tied the game with two unanswered to close out the first period in the final 1:25 as Justin Nachbaur netted his first pro goal in his pro debut, cleaning up a rebound from Freeman before Matt Bradley tallied his first of the year with 31 seconds left in the opening frame.
The Rays and Swamp Rabbits traded goals in the second period, kicking off with Lawton Courtnall’s fourth of the season, pushing one into the back of the net after Nate Pionk circled the backside of the cage before feeding Courtnall just outside of the crease.
Cuglietta tied the game with his second of the night as he beat the Stingrays netminder on his sixth of the year before Cherniwchan’s second power play goal of the night fell to the back of the net. A quick feed from Dominick Sacco found Cherniwchan alone on the right circle where he wound up and fired one home to regain the one-goal lead.
Nachbaur joined the fun with his second of the contest, burying another goal on a rebound by himself on the back door.
After trading off goals through the first 40 minutes, the final 20 of regulation should be no different. Nikita Pvlychev netted his fourth of the year, tossing a backhanded shot off the far post and bouncing it past the goal line.
Cherniwchan completed his second career hat trick (3/1/19 @ Jacksonville) as he received the puck at the end line, serpentined to the front of the net, and lifted one top shelf past Jacob Ingham to tie the game with under three minutes left in regulation.
The Rays had plenty of chances in overtime, but after an initial save from South Carolina, Freeman shed his defender and tucked home the rebound for the game-winner.
Not only was it high scoring, but Hunter Shepard saw 47 shots in the contest, making saves on 40 of them in the loss. The Greenville netminder improved to 4-0 against the Stingrays this season while making 25 stops of his own.
The power play was clicking tonight for South Carolina, scoring on three of their first four man advantages, finishing the night 3-for-6. The penalty kill gave up one goal to the Swamp Rabbits on five kills on Friday.
The Stingrays continue their 2021-22 campaign on Saturday, December 4th against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits with a 6:05 p.m. puck drop at the North Charleston Coliseum for the annual Teddy Bear Toss presented by Crews Chevrolet.
Bring new stuffed animals or plush dolls and toss them on the ice as the Stingrays score their first goal of the night. All stuffed teddy bears will be donated to the Salvation Army, Sarah’s Cares, and Lowcountry Orphan Relief following the contest.
The first 1,900 fans will receive a Stingrays branded lunchbox and specialty teddy bear jerseys will be auctioned off throughout the game on Dash Auction.