Cincinnati, OH – The South Carolina Stingrays battled back from a two goal deficit to beat the Cincinnati Cyclones 3-2 in game four of their best-of-seven game series and win the American Conference Finals in four games.
“I’m so proud of these guys right now,” said Head Coach Jared Bednar. “You put together a team at the beginning of the season with a goal of competing for a Kelly Cup, and that’s exactly what we are doing.”
The Cincinnati Cyclones came out of the gate like a team that was fighting for their playoff lives, which as it happens they were. In the first period of play they tallied two goals to take their largest lead of the series going into the first intermission. The first goal came at 9:41 as the result of a penalty to the Rays. It was not a power play goal, but came just two seconds after the Rays got back to even strength. The goal was credited to Mark Santorelli, his first of the playoffs. Later in the period, the Cyclones struck again on a power play goal by Ian McKenzie, his fourth of the playoffs at 18:16.
The Rays jumped on the comeback trail in the second period with a blast from Josh Godfrey in his first game back from injury. The goal was shot from the nearside point and cut the Cincinnati lead in half at 2-1. The goal was Godfrey’s first of the playoffs in his first game back from injury. The goal came at 7:49 and was assisted by Pierre-Luc O’Brien. Later in the period, the Rays struck again. While on the penalty kill Travis Morin tipped a pass into neutral ice and Maxime Lacroix brought it into the zone, firing a shot from the far side circle past Ryan Nie, tying the game up at two. It was Lacroix’s seventh of the playoffs and the second short handed goal of the playoffs for the Rays.
The third period was an evenly matched back and forth affair and appeared headed into overtime. It wasn’t until Nikita Kashirsky took advantage of a missed play by Nie that the Rays took their first lead of the night. After playing the puck behind the net, Nie couldn’t get back into his net in time before Kashirsky fired a shot on net that went off a skate and in. The goal came at 17:19 of the period, and was the difference maker.
The win gave the Rays a four game sweep over the Cyclones and their third trip to the Kelly Cup finals where they will take on the Alaska Aces. The series schedule is:
Friday May 22 @ Alaska 11:15 EST
Saturday May 23 @ Alaska 11:15 EST
Wednesday May 27 @ South Carolina 7:05 EST
Friday May 29 @ South Carolina 7:05 EST
Saturday May 30 @ South Carolina 7:05 EST*
Thursday June 4 @ Alaska 11:15 EST*
Friday June 5 @ Alaska 11:15 EST*
Tickets go on sale on Saturday May 16th at www.ticketmaster.com and through the Coliseum Box Office.
South Carolina Stingrays 3 at Cincinnati Cyclones 2 - Status: Final
May 15, 2009 - U.S. Bank Arena