NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – Lawton Courtnall’s game-tying goal with 4:17 left in the third period helped the South Carolina Stingrays (45-22-4-1) clinch the South Division for the seventh time in franchise history as they beat the Jacksonville Icemen (43-23-4-1) by a final score of 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday evening. Garin Bjorklund recorded his first professional win in his pro hockey debut.
Following a flurry of attacks from South Carolina, Jacksonville broke through first on Ara Nazarian’s 20th tally of the season for the 1-0 lead. Nazarian intercepted a shot from Chris Grando and flung an attempt of his own past the Stingrays’ Bjorklund for the advantage.
Carson MacKinnon doubled the lead nearly four and a half minutes later as he netted his first professional goal for the 2-0 lead. MacKinnon skated between the circles and received a pass before sliding a shot between the five-hole of Bjorklund for the tally.
MacKinnon netted his second goal of the game with 1:10 remaining in the opening period as he swept a shot past the left pad of Bjorklund for the 3-0 lead.
With time winding down, Ty Thorpe buried his first professional tally to get the Stingrays on the board. Thorpe crashed the net and slammed a final chance past Jacksonville’s Parker Gahagen to bring South Carolina back within two at the end of the opening stanza.
Entering the second period down a pair, Ryan Scarfo lifted a shot past Gahagen to bring the Stingrays back within one goal at the 4:06 mark. Scarfo one-timed a pass from Andrew Cherniwchan over the blocker of Gahagen for the lone tally of the middle frame.
Jacksonville regained a two-goal advantage midway through the final frame as Cristiano DiGiacinto fought through tie-ups to slide his fifth goal of the year into the back of the net.
Jarid Lukosevicius responded with his fifth marker of the year to bring the Stingrays back within one goal and 6:21 left in regulation.
The Stingrays tied the game on Courtnall’s 10th tally of the season with 4:17 left in the final stanza. Courtnall chipped a pass behind the defenseman and swept the puck past Gahagen for the 4-4 game.
South Carolina closed out the remainder of regulation behind solid defense to force overtime and clinch the division.
Following a scoreless overtime, the teams headed to a shootout where Bjorklund turned back three of four attempts and the Stingrays won with tallies from Cherniwchan and Max Humitz.
The Stingrays open the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs next Saturday, April 22nd, at the North Charleston Coliseum for Game 1 of the Divisional Semifinal round against the Florida Everblades. Puck drop is set for 6:05 p.m.
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