NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – Justin Florek’s overtime winner lifted the South Carolina Stingrays (22-36-6-0) over the visiting Trois-Rivières Lions (26-26-4-1) by a final score of 5-4 in Sunday’s rubber match at the North Charleston Coliseum.
As time expired in the opening stanza, the Lions found themselves on top at the hands of Alexandre Fortin. With two seconds left, Fortin found the loose puck in front of the net and made a cutback move to force Hunter Shepard out of position, sliding in his third goal of the weekend.
Early into the second period, Jonny Evans found himself back on the scoresheet with his second goal of the weekend. Evans received a return pass from Derek Gentile on the right circle where he squared up with Philippe Desrosiers and beat the netminder to the far post.
Gentile and Evans connected again eight minutes later to give the Stingrays a 2-1 lead. This time, Evans fed Gentile, who sniped a tough-angled shot past a bewildered Desrosiers for his 10th mark of the season.
Kevin O’Neil joined in on the fun nearly three minutes later, sending his first professional goal into the back of the net. O’Neil received a pass from Justin Florek and broke away down the right seam before sniping a shot in similar fashion to Evans’ tally.
Fortin retaliated with his second of the contest on the Lions second power play of the afternoon. Fortin spun past the defense and opened a shot on net from the right circle to beat Shepard, cutting the deficit back to one a minute after O’Neil’s tally.
Just under seven minutes into the final period of regulation, Francis Thibeault snapped his first professional hockey goal to tie the game at three goals apiece. Thibeault circled the top of the zone and pulled the puck back to his forehand where he took the shot from the left circle.
O’Neil wouldn’t let it last long as he regained the Stingrays advantage on his second tuck of the contest just over the halfway point in the third period. Florek fed O’Neil in the slot where the newcomer kept the puck moving, going bar down on Desrosiers for the 4-3 lead.
Only 20 seconds later, Mathieu Brodeur would even the score once again on his fifth goal of the season. Anthony Nellis dropped the puck for the 6-foot-6 defender who sent the shot past Shepard with traffic in front to force overtime.
It took nearly six minutes of extra time to decide a winner, but after tallying two assists on the day, it was Florek’s turn to play hero. The Stingrays’ veteran received a pass in stride from Connor Moore and finessed the puck past Desrosiers' blocker for the game-winning goal.
The Stingrays head to Greenville, South Carolina for a one-off game against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits this Wednesday, March 30th, for the final in-state battle this season. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Season ticket plans are on sale now! For more information or to purchase, contact the Stingrays by phone at 843-744-2248 or submit this form.
Save money with group tickets! For more information or to purchase, contact the Stingrays by phone at 843-744-2248.