Despite being outshot by a wide margin, the South Carolina Stingrays (18-12-0-0) defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (11-18-3-0) 4-3 on Friday night at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena behind 38 saves from goaltender Gordon Defiel.
The Stingrays got their third victory in four meetings with the Swamp Rabbits this season, and their seventh win in their last eight outings overall. South Carolina had four skaters with multi-point games, including forwards Sam Fioretti and Shane Eiserman who each registered a goal and an assist, as well as forward Tad Kozun and defender Kevin McKernan, who both had two assists.
Defiel picked up his fifth win of the season for SC and has now picked up a win in all of his last four starts.
South Carolina was outshot 13-6 in the first period, but the Rays scored on half of their attempts on net to take a 3-0 lead in the opening period.
Just 24 seconds into the contest, Jonathan Charbonneau found the back of the net to give the Rays a 1-0 advantage. After a face-off win in the Greenville zone, McKernan let a shot go from the right point that was deflected by Kozun onto the stick of Charbonneau, who used a backhand to slip the puck into the open cage.
Fioretti then made it 2-0 with his fifth goal of the season from Vinny Muto and Eiserman at 4:22. The Calgary native deflected Muto’s shot past goaltender Chris Nell and extended South Carolina’s early lead.
In the final minute of the first frame, Andrew Cherniwchan converted on a breakaway opportunity for his team-leading 14th goal of the year to make it 3-0 Stingrays. The goal, which officially came at 19:22 of the first, also came with an assist from Kozun. Cherniwchan has now been on the scoresheet in eight consecutive games for SC, as well as in 10 of his last 11.
Greenville started a comeback at 8:39 of the middle period when Chris Izmirlian netted a shorthanded tally to get the Swamp Rabbits on the board and cut the SC lead to 3-1.
Then Brendan Harms made it 3-2 with a power play goal for Greenville at 14:07 on a rebound shot from the right circle.
But Eiserman answered back right away for the Stingrays with his eighth goal of the year on the power play at 15:31 from Fioretti and McKernan to push the SC lead back to two goals at 4-2.
Greenville’s Michael Pelech scored an unassisted shorthanded goal at 6:37 of the third, but it was the only tally the Swamp Rabbits could muster in the final period against Defiel, who stopped 11 shots in the last period.
The power play goal by Eiserman gave the Rays a man-advantage goal for the eighth consecutive game. With a total of 17 minor infractions called in the game, South Carolina went 1-for-8 on the man-advantage and Greenville ended at 1-for-5. Nell made 13 saves in the game for the Swamp Rabbits in a losing effort.
South Carolina finishes up their week on the road with one final game in Greenville against the Swamp Rabbits on Saturday 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.