NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Bruce Graham scored his third goal of the game in overtime to complete a hat trick performance and give the Charlotte Checkers a 4-3 overtime win over the South Carolina Stingrays, who had their eight-game home winning streak snapped before 5,155 fans at the North Charleston Coliseum.
“We have to find a way to stop Graham,” South Carolina coach Jason Fitzsimmons said. “He now has seven goals in six games against us. We can take positives from this game like coming back in the third, but we need to play a little better all around if we want success against Florida over the next couple days at home.”
Charlotte (26-18-3, 55 points) opened the score at 3:48 of the first period on the power play. Graham netted his team-leading 25th goal of the season beating netminder Davis Parley from Kenton Smith and Hugh Jessiman.
South Carolina (26-18-4, 56 points) tied the score at 1-1 with a man advantage. Cail MacLean got the puck through goaltender Chris Holt from a sharp angle tallying his 19th goal of the campaign. Assists went to Evan Schwabe and Scott Romfo.
Graham went back to work and registered his second goal of the game at 16:33 of the first. Helpers went to Daymen Rycroft and Nathan Gillies.
In the second, Lee Falardeau re-directed a Jan Vodrazka shot from the point. The eighth tally of the year for Falardeau was also assisted by Dan Murphy to give Charlotte a 3-1 lead.
The Stingrays cut the margin to one, as MacLean scored his second of the night, an unassisted marker, at the 5:10 mark.
Schwabe tied the score at 3-3 by netting a breakaway goal outlasting Holt for his 17th goal of the season from MacLean and Stefanishion at 10:13 of the third.
In overtime, Graham buried his hat trick goal at 1:55 of the extra session assisted by Mark Lee and Jessiman.
South Carolina converted on 1-of-8 power play chances, while Charlotte went 1-for-8. Stingrays outshot the Checkers 39-33.
The Stingrays remain at home for a mini two-game series starting at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday against the Florida Everblades at the North Charleston Coliseum. It’s Military Night with free parking presented by Dodge.
For live-play-by-play action join Mike Kelly, “Voice of the Stingrays” on Real 1340 and online at www.stingrayshockey.com beginning at 6:50 p.m. with the Benito’s Pregame Show. Watch the game live on the web telecast for $6 each at www.stingrayshockey.com, courtesy of B2 Networks.
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