Cole Ully’s 14th goal of the season with just 1:31 left forced overtime, but the South Carolina Stingrays (17-14-6-3) came up short in a shootout Friday night, falling to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (20-12-8-2) by a final score of 3-2 at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Friday’s game was the seventh time that overtime has been needed to settle a game between SC and the Swamp Rabbits and the third to be decided in a shootout.
Ully led the way offensively for South Carolina, playing a major role in both of the team’s goals (1g, 1a) while defender Macoy Erkamps scored his first tally of the season and goaltender Hunter Shepard stopped 32 shots.
Greenville took an early lead with the only goal of the opening period at 9:22 of the first when Patrick Bajkov made it 1-0 and extended their advantage to 2-0 at 8:05 of the second on a deflection by Anthony Rinaldi.
But Erkamps gave SC life with less than a minute remaining in the middle frame, burying a feed from Ully just beyond the left post. Ully carried the puck all the way up the ice and around multiple Swamp Rabbit skaters before settling things down and finding Erkamps for the strike at 19:02 to make it 2-1.
The Rays tied the game in the waning moments of the third while Shepard was pulled for an extra attacker. Ully let a shot go from the left point that made its way through traffic and past netminder Ryan Bednard to even things at 2-2. Defenseman Blake Hillman, who returned to the lineup for the first time since March 5, registered the lone assist on the play while Dan DeSalvo provided traffic with a screen in front of the goal.
Neither team was able to end the contest in an overtime that saw multiple close calls and a shots-on-goal advantage of 6-4 for Greenville. Stingrays’ captain Andrew Cherniwchan kept his team in it by batting a puck out of the air that looked destined for his own net but also came up short on a breakaway opportunity that was denied by the glove of Bednard.
Greenville’s Matt Bradley was the lone skater to score in the skill session, besting Shepard in the first round to put the Swamp Rabbits in front for good.
South Carolina held Greenville to just one power play goal in six opportunities but were held scoreless at 0-for-3 on their man-advantage chances. The Swamp Rabbits outshot the Rays 35-28 in the contest with Bednard turning aside 26 SC looks on goal.
The two clubs conclude their week-long three-game series on Saturday night at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena at 7:05 p.m.
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