It's on to Game 7.
Matt Stefanishion had a goal, including the game-winner with a 3:37 left in the third period, and added an assist as Alaska rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat South Carolina, 3-2, Thursday night in Game 6 of the Kelly Cup finals before a crowd of 6,610 at Sullivan Arena.
The Stingrays and Aces will play a decisive Game 7 tonight at 11:15 p.m. at Sullivan Arena. It's only the third Game 7 in the 21-year history of the ECHL and the first in a decade.
The game ended in controversial fashion when it appeared that the Stingrays' Michael Dubuc scored with less than a second left in regulation. With the extra attacker on the ice, Stingrays defenseman Zach Tarkir took a shot from the high slot that Dubuc redirected past Alaska goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureaux for the apparent score.
However, referee Andy Thiessen immediately ruled that Dubuc had used a high stick to deflect the puck in and waved off the potential game-tying goal.
"I haven't seen the replay, so I can't comment on the last shot," said Stingrays coach Jared Bednar. "It was hard to tell from my angle on the bench what happened because there were so many bodies in front of the net. So, until I see a replay of what happened, I don't want to comment on it. But it is what it is, and it's over and done with.
"We're not going to sit here and cry over spilled milk. At the end of the day, the game didn't go into overtime, and we've got to come back (today) and play a Game 7. It's not something we can dwell on."
Stefanishion, who played for the Stingrays during the 2006-07 season, got the game winner on a tremendous individual play. The 6-3, 255-pounder winger came over the blue line, faked a slap shot, stepped past Stingrays winger Matt Scherer, and backhanded a shot past Stingrays goalie Jonathan Boutin for the score.
"It was a great individual effort on Matt's part," Bednar said. "I certainly would have liked for us to step up on him or force him wide, but tip your hat to Matt for making a play for them."
Any hangover from the Stingrays' 3-2 overtime loss in Game 5 on Saturday night was quickly put to rest as they jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game on goals from Spencer Carbery and Travis Morin.
"We got off to such a great start," Bednar said. "We came out with a lot of jump, put some pressure on them and finished off our scoring chances. It was a great start."
The Aces were lucky to be down only two goals. The Stingrays had at least two breakaways after getting ahead by two goals.
"We had two or three breakaways and five or six quality scoring chances, and we didn't finish on them," Bednar said. "We didn't take advantage of the chances we had to put them away in the first period, and give Alaska credit -- they scratched and clawed their way back into the game."
Officially, the Aces were 1-of-7 with the man advantage, but Lance Galbraith's goal in the first period came just as Alaska's power play was coming to an end.
"Special teams are crucial this time of year, and we didn't get it done," Bednar said. "It cost us the hockey game. Our power play didn't get much accomplished and theirs did, and that was the difference in the game."
The Stingrays grabbed a 1-0 lead on Carbery's fifth goal of the playoffs. Carbery got to a loose puck in front of the net and wristed a shot on goal that Lamoureaux failed to control. Carbery got to the rebound behind the net and banked it off of Lamoureaux's skates for the score 6:43 into the first period.
Thirty-eight seconds later, Morin gave the Stingrays a 2-0 advantage with his first goal of the series. Maxime Lacroix got the puck in the high slot, left it off for Morin, who timed it past Lamoureaux for the score.
The Aces cut the Stingrays' lead in half just before the end of the first period when Gailbraith redirected a Stefanishion shot past Boutin for the score.
Alaska tied the game at 2 when Josh Soars scored his first goal of the series, this one coming on the power play less than four minutes into the second period.
The last Game 7 was in 1999 when Mississippi beat Richmond, 4-3, in double-overtime.
"The good news is that we've got a chance to come back and still win this thing (tonight)," Bednar said. "Our season isn't over yet. We've got one more game. If we had played a full 60-minute game, I think we would have won. We had a tough second period."
Stingrays 2 0 0 2
Alaska 1 1 1 3
First Period: 1. SC, Carbery 5 (unassisted), 6:43. 2. SC, Morin 4 (Farynuk, Lacroix), 7:21. 3. A, Galbraith 9 (Stefanishion, Keith), 17:59. Penalties: Dubuc, SC (tripping), 3:33; Kroll, SC (interference), 9:52; Marsh, A (slashing), 13:22; Carbery, SC (elbowing), 15:44; Fast, A (slashing), 15:44; Farynuk, SC (interference), 15:59.
Second Period: 4. A, Soares 10 (Sahasby), 3:56. Penalties: Dubuc, SC (charging), 2:44; Stefanishion, A (roughing), 4:25; Morin, SC (hooking), 16:02; Stefanishion, A (boarding), 16:02; Pokulok, SC (cross checking), 17:09; Bench minor, SC (too many men on the ice), 19:43.
Third Period: 5. A, Stefanishion 5 (Novak, Martin), 16:23. Penalties: Farynuk, SC (boarding), 13:31; Turek, A (hooking), 17:16; Carbery, SC (roughing), 19:54; Martin, A (roughing), 19:54.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 11-6-5-22; Alaska: 16-9-13-38. Penalties: Stingrays 10-20; Alaska 7-14. Power Play: Stingrays 0 for 4; Alaska 1 for 7. Goalies: Stingrays Jonathan Boutin (12-4-0) 38 shots, 36 saves. Alaska Jean-Philippe Lamoureaux (15-4-0) 22 shots, 20 saves. Att: 6,610.
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