The South Carolina Stingrays put 49 shots on net but were unable to stage a comeback after falling behind in the first period and were defeated by the Fort Wayne Komets 6-4 in Game 3 of the 2021 Kelly Cup Finals Wednesday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Dan DeSalvo recorded three points in a losing effort with two goals and an assist for South Carolina, while Cole Ully earned two assists.
In a wild first period that saw five total goals, DeSalvo opened the scoring with a power play strike 2:35 into the contest that had assists from Ully and Max Novak to make it 1-0 in favor of the Rays.
The Komets responded with two tallies in less than two minutes to take their first lead of the night. Stephen Harper tied things up at 1-1 on the power play at 7:01 before Anthony Nellis made it 2-1 Fort Wayne with a rebound strike at 8:40.
DeSalvo evened the game at 2-2 less than two minutes later with his second power play goal of the period at 10:39 from Ully and Matthew Weis.
But Shawn Szydlowski put the Komets back in front at 3-2 with a breakaway goal at 12:30 and Fort Wayne entered the first intermission with a one-goal lead.
Despite a 20-4 shots-on-goal advantage for South Carolina in the middle period, Fort Wayne added to their advantage with a goal by Brandon Hawkins at 10:32 to make it 4-2. Goaltender Dylan Ferguson was a perfect 20-for-20 in between the pipes for the Komets in the frame.
Matthew Boudens put Fort Wayne up 5-2 just 30 seconds into the third period, but the Stingrays made it a two-goal game again on a strike by Caleb Herbert at 2:02. Herbert has now scored in all three games in the Kelly Cup Finals. Wednesday’s tally came off a nice pass at the side of the net by captain Andrew Cherniwchan to make it 5-3.
The Komets pushed their lead to 6-3 at 7:38 of the third when Szydlowski found the back of the net for the second time on the power play.
A frantic comeback attempt late in the game by SC yielded just a single tally by Mark Cooper, scoring off a re-direct in front of the net at 18:29. Assists on the final goal went to DeSalvo and forward Brett Supinski.
Ferguson picked up the win for the Komets after seeing a busy night in his crease with 45 saves. The overall shots-on-goal margin ended at 49-24 in favor of the Stingrays with Hunter Shepard stopping 18 shots in a losing effort for SC.
Both teams converted on two power play opportunities with the Rays finishing 2-for-8 and Fort Wayne ending at 2-for-4.
The series will resume on Friday in Fort Wayne with Game 4 at 8 p.m. If necessary, a deciding Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 pm.
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