NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – The South Carolina Stingrays defeated the Atlanta Gladiators 7-4 on Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum. In his first start on home ice, Reid Cooper made 19 saves in the victory.
Tyson Empey opened the scoring for the Stingrays just 46 seconds into the game. Empey drove the puck up the right side and swept a backhand on goal that trickled past Atlanta goaltender Gustavs Davis Grigals.
Nick Leivermann doubled the Stingray lead with a power play goal when he fired a laser from just inside the blue line. Kevin O’Neil made it 3-0 with another power play tally coming off a shot from the top of the left circle. O’Neil extended the South Carolina lead to 4-0 when he attempted a centering pass that deflected into Atlanta’s net.
Cody Sylvester put Atlanta on the board with 37 seconds remaining in the first period when he knocked in a loose puck in front of the net.
Leivermann restored the four-goal lead for the Stingrays with a wrist shot from the left point 5:21 into the second period. Josh Wilkins tallied his team-leading 15th goal of the season when he roofed the puck into the top right corner with 5:06 remaining in the second period. The goal came on the power play. The Stingrays finished the night 3 for 3 with the man advantage.
Ian Mackey extended the Stingray lead to 7-1 when he collected a feed from Ryan Leibold off the rush and deposited it into the open net for his first goal of the season.
The Gladiators made it 7-2 with a late second-period tally from Jack Matier. Michael Marchesan and Nolan Burke scored for Atlanta in the third period, but the Rays hung on to win 7-4.
South Carolina will be back in action tomorrow afternoon at home against Greenville. Puck drop is set for 3:05 at the North Charleston Coliseum.