NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Jeff Miles scored a hat trick to help lead the Columbia Inferno past the South Carolina Stingrays 6-4 before 3,178 fans at the North Charleston Coliseum.
“We had a brutal first period and it cost us,” South Carolina coach Jason Fitzsimmons said. “The old adage ‘you can lead them to water but you can’t make them drink’ applies tonight. We can’t spot teams a 5-1 lead. Thursday at Charlotte is the biggest game of the year. We’ll look for a 60-minute effort from our guys.”
Columbia (23-26-9, 55 points) opened the score at the 2:21 mark. Brad Ralph went shelf with a shot to net his 16th goal of the year placing it over the shoulder of goaltender Davis Parley from Tyson Marsh and Chris Thompson.
Inferno made it 2-0, as Luke Fulghum potted his 17th of the season assisted by Mac Faulkner at the 3:33 mark.
South Carolina (27-23-7, 61 points) got on the board at 4:58 of the first period. From in close, Chris Chaput beat netminder Todd Ford for his 17th tally of the campaign. Helpers went to Peter Szabo and Marc Busenburg.
With 12:38 remaining in the first, a transformer in the region knocked out power inside the North Charleston Coliseum and delayed the game for 15 minutes.
On the first shift after power was restored, Miles scored on a 5-on-3 power play to extend his goal-scoring streak to six games by registering his 23rd of the season. Ralph and Marsh garnered assists.
Fulghum swooped in on a breakaway and gave the Inferno a three-goal lead at the 11:16 mark burying his second of the contest.
At 13:04, Columbia stretched its lead to 5-1, as Miles busted in all alone and notched his second of the night and team-leading 24th of the year.
Tim Judy, who was re-signed earlier in the day, tallied his first goal of the season at 17:47 of the opening period from Josh Anderson and Chaput.
In the second, Sasha Pokulok jammed home his third goal of the year, assisted by Szabo and Scott Romfo at 15:28.
Viktor Dovgan cut the margin in half at 17:46 netting his fourth of the campaign from Szabo, who finished with three assists and Busenburg, who had two helpers.
Stingrays pulled Parley in favor of the extra attacker in the final minute, but Miles scored his third goal of the contest into the empty-net. Bryson Busniuk had the lone assist.
South Carolina failed to convert on seven power play chances, while Columbia went 1-for-5. Stingrays outshot the Inferno 34-24.
Additional note: Former Stingrays forward Marty Clapton, who played with South Carolina from 2000-06, came out of retirement and played for Columbia. He finished -1 in the game.
The Stingrays take to the road for a 7 p.m. game on Thursday versus the Charlotte Checkers at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena. Listen live to Mike Kelly, “Voice of the Stingrays” on ESPN Radio 910 The Team and online at www.stingrayshockey.com beginning at 6:45 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.
South Carolina’s next home game is at 7:05 p.m. on Friday against the Reading Royals at the North Charleston Coliseum. It’s Hall of Fame Night presented by The Post and Courier. In addition, it’s Family Fun Friday featuring four tickets, four hotdogs, four sodas and a program for just $44.
Don’t miss the fast-paced, action-packed, family affordable fun! Purchase your flex tickets today. You pick the games; you pocket the savings! For more information call (843) 744-2248 to speak to a ticket sales manager.
Individual tickets can be purchased at the North Charleston Coliseum box office, by calling Ticketmaster at (843) 554-6060 and online at www.ticketmaster.com.
Discounted groups tickets, birthday packages, Kids Club information and fundraiser opportunities are available by calling (843) 744-2248 or by visiting online at www.stingrayshockey.com. Stingrays Hockey – A Whole Lot Cooler!