GREENVILLE, SC. – The South Carolina Stingrays (8-6-2-0) delivered a statement 8-5 win over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (15-3-0-0) on Saturday night. The Stingrays were down 5-1 in the second period but stormed back with seven unanswered goals to win the game. Josh Wilkins scored a hat trick, Ryan Leibold scored twice, and Garin Bjorklund stopped 31 of 36 shots in the victory.
Greenville held a 3-1 lead after the first period. Anthony Beauchamp opened the scoring before Wilkins tied the game with a power play goal. Nikita Pavlychev tallied two power play goals to give Greenville a two-goal lead.
Greenville extended their lead to 5-1 with goals by JD Greenway and Brannon McManus. Both goals came off shots from the high slot.
Wilkins started South Carolina’s comeback with his second power play goal of the night. He one-timed a cross-ice feed from Connor Moore past Greenville goaltender Ryan Bednard to cut the deficit to 3.
Austin Magera pulled the Stingrays within two when he knocked in his seventh goal of the season. Magera followed up a Benton Maass shot and buried the rebound past Bednard to make it 5-3.
Leibold made it 5-4 when he streaked up the right side and fired a shot over the glove of Bednard.
Tyson Empey tied the game at 5 when he redirected a shot from the left point by Jon McDonald. Tonight was the second consecutive game that Empey scored a goal with less than two seconds remaining in the second period.
Wilkins gave the Stingrays their first lead of the night with a highlight-reel breakaway goal. Wilkins faked a shot, deeked to the backhand, and roofed a shot past Bednard to complete his hat trick and put the Stingrays up 6-5.
Leibold extended the Stingray lead to 7-5 with a wrist shot to the short side shelf. Kevin O’Neil iced the game with an empty net goal to seal an 8-5 win for South Carolina.
The Stingrays are back in action on Sunday afternoon for their annual Teddy Bear toss game. They will take on the Trois-Rivières Lions at 3:05 pm.