NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – Five power play goals from the South Carolina Stingrays (30-16-4-1) overpowered the Atlanta Gladiators (26-21-5-1) by a final score of 7-3 on Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Atlanta opened the scoring on a tally from Reece Vitelli with 5:12 remaining in the first period. Vitelli received a pass from Cody Sylvester and sent a snapshot past the blocker of Clay Stevenson for the 1-0 advantage.
Sanghoon Shin doubled the lead with 1.2 seconds remaining in the opening stanza on his 15th tuck of the year. While on the man advantage, Shin cut to the front of the net and fired a shot off a pass from Noah Laaouan for the 2-0 lead.
The Stingrays stormed back early in the second period as Alex Fortin cut the deficit in half on his 11th goal of the season. Fortin sent a shot toward the net that deflected past David Tendeck to pull the Stingrays within one goal 2:28 into the second frame.
Justin Florek evened the score at two goals apiece less than two minutes later and he wristed a shot past the blocker of Tendeck. Florek squared up against Tendeck for a one-on-one battle and ripped a shot to the back of the net for the 2-2 contest.
Cody Sylvester regained the one-goal advantage for Atlanta as he slipped a shot past the blocker of Stevenson. Sylvester led an odd-man rush and pulled the puck around the Stingrays’ defender before netting his 25th goal of the year with 4:01 left in the middle frame.
South Carolina tied the game only 22 seconds later as Jackson Leppard buried his ninth tuck of the season. Anthony Del Gaizo deflected a clearing attempt from Tendeck where Leppard found the loose puck and shoveled it into the goal for the 3-3 game.
With under a minute remaining in the second stanza, the Stingrays gained their first lead of the night on Evan Wardley’s second goal of the year. Josh Wilkins dropped a pass for Wardley where the defenseman cut to the front of the net and guided a backhanded shot past Tendeck for the 4-3 lead.
South Carolina kept the pressure on Atlanta, netting three more goals in the final period. An early penalty on the Gladiators led to Anthony Del Gaizo sweeping a rebound past Tendeck for the 5-3 advantage at the 2:10 mark of the third period.
Leppard added his second tally of the contest just over six minutes later with the second power play goal of the period. Leppard shoveled a shot from outside the crease that beat the blocker of Tendeck for the 6-3 lead.
Fortin closed the scoring with 8:10 left in regulation as he netted his second of the game and matched a franchise record with five team goals scored on the man advantage. Fortin skated to the right circle and sniped a shot past Tendeck for the 7-3 final.
The Stingrays return to the North Charleston Coliseum next Friday, March 3rd, to host the Atlanta Gladiators at 7:05 p.m.
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