Stingrays complete sweep of Gladiators
If the South Carolina Stingrays were going to get back into conversation for a division title, they would need a big weekend against South Division-leading Gwinnett.
Trent Campbell and Matt Scherer each had a goal and an assist to lead South Carolina past Gwinnett, 4-1, on Sunday to cap a perfect 2-0 weekend against the top team in the ECHL's Eastern Conference Sunday before a crowd of 2,902 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, who are 3-1-2 in their last six games, improved to 31-22-4 (66 points) and moved to within two points in the South Division of second-place Greenville. The Gladiators (30-15-11, 71 points) lead the South Division.
The Stingrays, who were coming off an impressive 5-2 victory over the Gladiators on Saturday, followed that up with a flawless game on Sunday.
With 15 games left in the regular season, the Stingrays trail the Gladiators by five points in the South Division. The Stingrays will take on Gwinnett for the final time this season Wednesday night in Duluth, Ga.
"Anything less than four points this weekend and Gwinnett starts to separate themselves from us in the division," said Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery. "This was a huge weekend, we needed to get four points and we got it against the top team in the conference and a team we're chasing in the standings."
Carbery said he was pleased with the Stingrays' performance for five of the six periods over the weekend.
"Consistency has been our biggest issue all season," Carbery said. "Hopefully, this is the start of a trend for us. We were spot on all weekend. We were moving our feet and we had good energy. We executed when we had some scoring chances and that's been something we've struggled with all season."
The Stingrays were strong inside the defensive zone for the second straight game, allowing just 20 shots on goal Sunday, including three in the second period.
"We had a good week of practice and spent a lot o that time working on our defensive zone coverage," said Stingrays forward Pierre-Luc O'Brien. "It's something that we've needed to work on and get refocused on, and it paid off in a big way tonight."
After a sluggish start and a Gwinnett power-play goal from Bryan Brutlag in the first three minutes of the game, it was all Stingrays, especially in the second period when Zach Tarkir and Matt Scherer scored.
"We had no jump in the first period, I thought we were lucky to get out of the first period with score tied 1-1," Carbery said. "We regrouped in the first intermission and came out in the second period, and it was night and day. We played our game. We controlled the whole second period."
The Gladiators were missing several key players, including former Stingrays forward Nikita Kashirsky, who had a 15-game point streak, but had missed the last three games with an injury.
Maxime Lacroix capped off a four-goal weekend with an empty goal in the final minute.
"Max carried us all weekend," Campbell said. "He's really stepped up his game."
--Matt Pope (Hershey) and Sean Dolan (Charlotte) are currently called up to the American Hockey League.
--Defenseman Derek Keller (lower body), goalie Daren Machesney (lower body) and forwards Greg Stewart (upper body) and Billy Ryan (lower body) are out of the lineup with injuries.
--The Stingrays are 17-10-1 at home and 13-12-3 on the road this season.
First Period: 1. G, Brutlag 14 (Kindle, Milo), 2:53. 2. SC, Campbell 15 (Hamilton, Kroll), 9:51. Penalties:Flemming, SC (interference), 1:41; Galivan, G (hooking), 8:31; Brutlag, G (slashing), 16:21.
Second Period: 3. SC, Tarkir 9 (Campbell, Stevenson), 2:43. 4. SC, Scherer 6 (Oreskovic), 5:17. Penalties: Scherer, SC (high sticking), 3:08; Brutlag, G (hooking), 15:53; Parker, G (cross checking), 19:29.
Third Period: 5. SC, Larcroix 10 (Scherer), 19:39. Penalties: Campbell, SC (slashing), 1:40; Brandt, G (roughing), 2:43; Oreskovic, SC (roughing), 2:43; Jackson, G (cross checking), 8:24; Koger, SC (roughing), 13:52; Brandt, G (rouging), 13:52; Stevenson, SC (interference), 15:42; Oreskovic, SC (interference), 18:11.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 15-13-6-34; Gwinnett: 7-3-10-20. Penalties: Stingrays 8-16; Gwinnett 7-14. Power Play: Stingrays: 1 for 5; Gwinnett for 6. Goalies: Stingrays -- Phillip Grubauer (21-11-4) 20 shots, 19 saves. Gwinnett -- Ryan Zapolski (4-2-0) 33 shots, 30 saves. Att: 2,902.