The South Carolina Stingrays (6-1-0-0) continued their dominating start to the 2019-20 season with a decisive 8-2 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears (2-4-0-1) at the Amway Center on Sunday afternoon.
13 Stingrays players recorded a point in the lopsided win, led by forward Max Novak who had four points on two goals and two assists. Cole Ully also had two goals in the game, while Mitch Vanderlaan had a goal and an assist in his first appearance of the season and Dylan Steman added two assists.
South Carolina’s eight-goal output was their highest since December 5, 2017 when the team defeated Greenville, also by an 8-2 score. SC piled up a season-high 53 shots on net, while allowing just 17 attempts on goal.
The Stingrays controlled most of the play in the first period, outshooting Orlando 22-6. SC opened the scoring just 1:47 into the contest when Vanderlaan redirected a shot by defenseman Jaynen Rissling up over goaltender Zachary Fucale and into the net to make it 1-0.
Minutes later, Ully knocked home a loose rebound in front of the Orlando net and increased SC’s early lead to 2-0. The tally, which was Ully’s second of the year, came at 5:51 with assists by forward Matthew Weis and defender Tom Parisi.
The Solar Bears cut the Rays’ lead in half on their first shot on goal of the game when Chris LeBlanc finished a 2-on-1 rush in the SC zone at 9:47 to make it 2-1.
Just 1:22 into the second, as an abbreviated SC power play was coming to an end, Andrew Cherniwchan blocked a clearing attempt by Orlando’s Mike Monfredo and found himself alone in front of the Solar Bears net. While his first shot was stopped by Fucale, the rebound was loose in the crease and Cherniwchan pushed it past the line for his third goal of the season to give the Rays a 3-1 advantage.
During an extended offensive attack in the Orlando zone, Fucale found himself without his stick and Ully cashed in for his second goal of the game by converting on a one-timer at 9:01 of the middle period to push the lead to 4-1. The first assist came from Novak, while the second helper went to Steman.
The Solar Bears trimmed the lead back to 4-2 when Colby McAuley scored on a power play opportunity at 15:21 of the second.
Before the end of the frame, Novak got his first Stingrays goal against his former team by deflecting a shot from Vanderlaan past Fucale at 17:26. Steman earned the second helper on SC’s fifth goal of the afternoon. The tally was also the last shot Fucale saw, as the Solar Bears elected to make a goaltending change and brought Clint Windsor into the game, who had re-signed with the team earlier on Sunday afternoon.
South Carolina kept the heat on during the final frame, scoring three more times on 18 shots. The Rays converted twice in a span of 22 seconds during 4-on-4 play at the outset of the period.
First, defenseman Eddie Wittchow slammed home a rebound in front off a shot by Casey Bailey for his third goal of the year at 3:48. Novak picked up the second assist on the play for his third point of the contest.
Then after the ensuing face-off, Novak raced past the entire Orlando team, moved in on goal and scored for the second time in the game to make it 7-2 at 4:10 of the final period. SC goaltender Logan Thompson had the lone helper on the goal, his first career assist.
Finally, it was Mark Cooper who scored the Rays’ eighth goal of the game at 8:22 to cap off the scoring with an assist by Dan DeSalvo. Cooper has now scored a goal in each of the three matchups against Orlando so far this season.
Thompson earned his second win of the season in three appearances for South Carolina with 15 saves. Fucale took the loss, stopping 28 shots, while Windsor made 17 saves in relief. The Solar Bears had the only power play goal of the game, going 1-for-7 on the man-advantage while the Stingrays finished 0-for-8.
NEXT GAMESouth Carolina will play two games on consecutive days in Greenville next weekend against the Swamp Rabbits, beginning on Friday at 7 p.m.
—The Stingrays are back at home for three games in three days November 15, 16 and 17. Nov. 16 is the team’s first-ever Hockey Fights Cancer Night! Tickets for all of the team’s upcoming 2019-20 home contests are on sale now via Ticketmaster.