DULUTH, GA – Clay Stevenson saved 28 of 29 shots he faced to lead the South Carolina Stingrays (20-5-3-1) over the Atlanta Gladiators (21-11-2-0) by a final score of 5-1 on Wednesday night at Gas South Arena. With the win, the Stingrays move into a tie with Atlanta for first place in the South Division.
South Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Justin Florek’s ninth goal of the season nearly nine minutes into the opening period. On their first power play of the night, Florek received a pass from Carter Turnbull, squared himself with the Atlanta netminder, and beat Tyler Parks for the early lead.
Atlanta evened the game at one goal apiece on Gabe Guertler’s 10th marker of the year a minute and a half later. Guertler snapped a shot from inside the left circle past Stevenson for the tie game.
Kevin O’Neil closed out the first period with his 10th tally of the season to regain the Stingrays’ lead with 1:33 remaining in the opening frame. O’Neil pulled the puck between the circles and wristed a shot over the glove of Parks for the 2-1 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes.
O’Neil was at it again in the second stanza, adding his second goal of the contest 10:41 into the middle frame. O’Neil halted a clearing attempt from Atlanta and raced to the slot where he lifted a wrist shot past Parks for the 3-1 lead on the only goal of the second period.
Josh Wilkins provided an insurance marker nearly two minutes into the final period of regulation on his ninth tally of the season. Wilkins fired a one-timer from Florek through the five-hole of Parks for the 4-1 lead.
Almost four minutes later, Turnbull netted his league-leading 20th goal of the year for the final mark of the game. Turnbull placed a perfect shot into the top right corner of the net to close out the Stingrays’ 5-1 win.
The Stingrays return home this Friday, January 13th, to complete the final two periods of a suspended game against the Savannah Ghost Pirates at the North Charleston Coliseum. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.
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