The South Carolina Stingrays scored three goals in the final 11 minutes of the third period to reverse their fortune on Saturday night, coming from behind in stunning fashion to defeat the Greenville Swamp Rabbits 3-2 in Game 3 of the ECHL’s Eastern Conference Finals at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
South Carolina is ahead two games to one in the best-of-5 series with Game 4 set to take place on Monday night in North Charleston at the Carolina Ice Palace at 7:05 p.m.
Forward Dan DeSalvo had the game winner in the closing seconds, while Matthew Weis and Justin Florek scored the other third period goals for the Rays. Forward Max Novak and defender Zach Malatesta each had two assists on the late tallies, while goaltender Hunter Shepard stopped 32 shots to earn the victory.
A fast-paced first period resulted in many high-quality chances for both teams, but neither was able to break through on the scoreboard despite a 16-10 shots-on-goal advantage for Greenville in the opening frame.
Greenville took the lead early in the second when Liam Pecararo beat goaltender Hunter Shepard to make it 1-0 at 1:44. The goal was reviewed for goaltender interference, but the tally was upheld.
Then Max Zimmer extended the Swamp Rabbits’ advantage at 9:09 of the middle frame, putting Greenville on top 2-0, a lead they held into the second intermission.
Florek got the scoring started for the Stingrays on the power play in the third, deflecting a shot by Novak past goaltender Ryan Bednard to make it 2-1 at 9:28. Defender Tyler Nanne earned the second assist on the play for SC.
Then with under four minutes to go, Matthew Weis put home a rebound to even the score at 2-2. An initial shot by Novak was saved by the left pad of Bednard, but the rebound bounced straight to Weis who netted his third of the postseason at 16:43. Malatesta had the second helper on the goal, which energized the Rays and their fans who made the drive to the upstate to cheer on the team.
South Carolina’s game-winner came off a shot by Malatesta from the right point that deflected off DeSalvo’s neck and up into the air before settling in the cage behind Bednard to make it 3-2 with 19 seconds left in regulation. Mark Cooper was also credited with an assist on the deciding strike for the Rays.
Bednard suffered the loss for Greenville, stopping 31 shots in the defeat. The Stingrays had the lone power play goal of the game and finished 1-for-5 on the man-advantage while holding the Swamp Rabbits to an 0-for-1 mark.
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