The South Carolina Stingrays (9-3-4-0) took a 2-0 lead in the second period Thursday night on the road at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, but the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (7-3-5-2) battled back to earn a 4-3 win in overtime in the fourth game between the two teams to need extra time this season.
Forward Dan DeSalvo led the way for South Carolina in a losing effort, scoring twice, while Mark Cooper picked up two assists and goaltender Jake Kupsky made 37 saves in his fifth consecutive start in between the pipes for the Rays.
The first 20 minutes saw both teams fail to score for the second straight night, with each club earning unsuccessful looks on the man-advantage.
In the middle period, the sides saw more chances at their opponents’ net, both finding the back of the cage twice. DeSalvo scored his third of the season at 9:16, giving the Stingrays the 1-0 lead in the game by converting on a 2-on-1 opportunity with a shot just under the crossbar past Greenville netminder Ryan Bednard. Cooper was credited with the lone helper on the goal, his third of the year.
Following a hooking minor to Greenville’s Matt Wedman later in the frame, forward Graham Knott tallied his second goal of the year at 17:15 of the middle stanza with a deflection, extending the SC lead to 2-0. Knott’s power play goal had assists from Max Novak and Dylan Steman. Knott has scored both of his strikes this year on the man advantage.
Greenville would find their way on the scoresheet just 20 seconds later, with Patrick Bajkov burying his second of the year after recently re-joining his former club to make the score 2-1. Then just 2:21 after Bajkov’s strike, Jacob Hayhurst netted a game-tying goal to even the score at 2-2 with just 44 seconds left in the period.
Just 1:13 into the final frame, DeSalvo sniped his second goal of the game and his fourth of the season with assists from Cooper and Brett Supinski to make it 3-2 in favor of the Rays.
But a late SC delay of game penalty in the final minute of regulation gave Greenville a 6-on-4 advantage after the home team pulled Bednard in favor of an extra attacker. The 2-man advantage would prove successful for the Swamp Rabbits, as Matt Bradley scored a power play goal with 29 seconds left in the contest.
The pace of play in overtime was fast and furious, with both sides earning excellent chances in an attempt to win the game until Max Zimmer found the winner at 2:56 of the extra session to give the Swamp Rabbits their third overtime victory over the Rays this season.
Bednard stopped 30 shots to earn the victory, with Greenville holding the edge in shots on goal by a 41-33 margin. SC ended at 1-for-2 on the man-advantage, while the Swamp Rabbits were 1-for-5 on the power play.
The Rays will wrap up their 3-in-3 at home for Health and Wellness night presented by Pivotal Fitness at the North Charleston Coliseum on Friday when they take on the Jacksonville Icemen at 7:05 p.m. The doors open at 6:05 and the first 1,500 in attendance will receive a Stingrays sweat towel!
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