The South Carolina Stingrays (17-12-0-0) were unable to climb out of a hole after falling behind in the first period and had their six-game win streak halted with a 6-4 loss to the Jacksonville Icemen (16-10-1-0) at the Veterans Memorial Arena on Wednesday night.
Three Stingrays’ forwards had multi-point nights in a losing effort as Sam Fioretti, Jonathan Charbonneau and Christian Horn each picked up a goal and an assist. Goaltender Gordon Defiel came on in relief and finished with 14 saves, allowing just one goal in over 26 minutes of play to help keep South Carolina in the game.
Fioretti opened the scoring and gave South Carolina a 1-0 lead with the fourth tally of his rookie season at 1:21 of the first period. The Calgary, Alta. native buried a loose puck in front of the net with a shot past the blocker of goaltender Mikhail Berdin. Assists on the strike went to Shane Eiserman and Matt Pohlkamp.
Jacksonville responded while killing a penalty and tied the game on a shorthanded goal by Dajon Mingo at 5:27 of the first period.
The Icemen scored twice more in the opening frame and took a 3-1 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes. Garet Hunt found the net at 12:23 and Wacey Rabbit extended the Jacksonville advantage one minute later at 13:23.
The two teams battled back and forth in the second period and racked up a total of six goals, three apiece. First, the Icemen got a goal from Nikita Korostelev at 1:10 as well as a shorthanded marker from Cameron Critchlow at 11:43 to take a 5-1 advantage.
When Jacksonville found the net for their fifth goal, South Carolina removed starting goaltender Angus Redmond in favor of Defiel. Redmond finished the game with 12 saves and took the loss.
After a double-minor penalty to Jacksonville’s Kris Newbury, South Carolina took advantage and scored on both of their power plays just 32 seconds apart. First, Charbonneau one-timed his seventh goal of the year past Berdin from Horn and Fioretti at 15:26 before Horn found the back of the net with a wrist shot up high at 15:58 from Charbonneau and defenseman Kevin McKernan.
Rabbit slapped home his second goal of the game just 22 seconds later at 16:20 to make it 6-3 Jacksonville.
Then Andrew Cherniwchan blocked a shot in his own zone and raced out on a breakaway to score his 13th of the season just 45 seconds after Rabbit’s marker at 17:05 to re-cut the lead back down to two goals at 6-4. The unassisted goal gave Cherniwchan three goals in his last two games and points in seven consecutive contests for South Carolina.
After all the fireworks in the first two periods, neither team was able to get on the board in the final frame. The Icemen outshot the Stingrays 12-11 in the final 20 minutes, despite SC pulling goaltender Gordon Defiel for an extra attacker in the final minutes.
The Rays scored on the power play for the seventh consecutive game in the loss, finishing 2-for-5 on the man-advantage. They also held the Icemen off the board as Jacksonville ended without a goal on two power plays. Berdin picked up the win for the Icemen after making 29 saves.
South Carolina finishes up their week on the road with a two-game weekend series in Greenville against the Swamp Rabbits starting Friday night at 7 p.m. The Stingrays are back at home to take on Norfolk for ‘What You Didn’t Get For Christmas Night’ on Friday, Dec. 28 at 7:05!
Tickets are on sale now! To bring your group to the game and save, call the Stingrays Front Office at 843-744-2248! For single game tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.