Kelly Klima’s breakaway goal with 33 seconds to play gave the Norfolk Admirals (13-15-1-2) a 4-3 win over the South Carolina Stingrays (18-13-1-0) on Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Christian Horn had a goal and an assist in the game against his former team, while Patrick Gaul earned two assists and Vinny Muto scored his first goal as a member of the Stingrays.
Muto gave South Carolina an early lead with his first goal of the season 2:41 into the game from Christian Horn and Patrick Gaul at 2:41. After initial shots on goal by Gaul and Horn that were each saved by Norfolk goaltender Ty Reichenbach, Muto followed up by hitting the back of the net for the first time this season to make it 1-0.
Matt Pohlkamp added on to the advantage with his ninth goal of the season to push the lead to 2-0 at 17:35 of the first. Gaul had the lone assist on the strike, dishing the puck to Pohlkamp who used a backhand to reach the net.
T.J. Melancon got Norfolk on the board and made it 2-1 with a shot from the point that got past goaltender Gordon Defiel one minute after Pohlkamp’s tally at 18:35.
Then in the middle frame, Horn netted his sixth goal of the season at 1:41 to give SC another two-goal advantage at 3-1. During a Rays’ power play, Andrew Cherniwchan spun off a defender and left the puck off for Horn, who beat Reichenbach up high with a wrist shot for the score. Defenseman Tim Davison picked up the second assist on the play.
But Patrick D’Amico cut the Stingrays’ lead to 3-2 at 6:32 of the second before John Gustafsson tied the game at 3-3 with his sixth goal of the year at 15:18 and the teams were even at the start of the third.
Despite South Carolina controlling the run of play in the period, outshooting Norfolk 12-6, the Rays were unable to find the back of the net to re-take the lead. After a late power play opportunity for South Carolina was unsuccessful, defender Jalen Smereck hit Klima with a long pass that got the forward out ahead of everyone on a breakaway. Klima beat Defiel with just 33 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Admirals the victory.
The Stingrays had the edge in shots on goal during the game, 42-30. Reichenbach stopped 39 of the attempts for Norfolk to earn the victory, while Defiel turned aside 26 shots for South Carolina in a losing effort. The Rays finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Admirals ended at 0-for-2 on the man-advantage.
The Stingrays are back at home to battle the Worcester Railers on Friday night at 7:05 p.m.