Oreskovic, Sauer guide Stingrays
It took 63 games, but South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Phil Oreskovic finally scored a goal in the ECHL.
Oreskovic had a goal and added an assist and Billy Sauer made 34 saves to lead South Carolina past Cincinnati, 4-2, Saturday night before a crowd of 4,906 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays improved to 35-24-7 (77 points) and remained in sixth place in the ECHL's Eastern Conference. The Cyclones fell to 30-25-9 (69 points).
After Saturday night's goal for the Stingrays, Oreskovic has scored at every professional level in North American. Playing just 10 games in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Oreskovic scored a goal during the 2008-09 season.
Oreskovic has four goals in 216 career games at the American Hockey League, but had been shut out in 13 games with the now defunct Columbia Inferno and 49 games with the Stingrays.
"This was the hardest league to score in," Oreskovic said laughing. "I think I've got a goal in every pro league I've played in now, and it took me the longest to score in this league. It was nice to get on the scoresheet and get a huge win going into next week's games with Florida."
At 6-4 and 235 pounds, the burly Oreskovic has been known more for his physical play than his scoring touch throughout five-year professional career.
"Phil's an impact player, no matter what he's doing," said Stingrays forward Josh Turnbull. "He's a very hard defense-man to play against. He's got a good shot, so I'm surprised it took him this long to get a goal."
Oreskovic was a fight away from getting the Gordie Howe hat trick, which in hockey jargon is a goal, an assist and a fight all in a single game. Oreskovic has been forced to put a cage on his helmet after nearly getting a tooth knocked out last weekend in a game against Greenville.
"Trust me, I tried to get someone to go with me," Oreskovic said. "I told them I would take the helmet off, but I didn't have any takers."
Oreskovic wasn't the only source of unexpected offense for the Stingrays. Josh Turnbull, who got his first goal in a Stingrays uniform, and Tyler Shelast scored for South Carolina.
"We've been looking for some consistent secondary scoring for most of the season, and it was great to see Tyler and Josh step up and score some big goals," said Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery. "This was a very solid game from a lot of different guys, just not the scoring, but doing the little things that help you win games. We were a lot more dialed in tonight than we were last night."
First Period: 1. SC, Oreskovic 1 (Scherer, Shelast), 10:36. Penalties: Goulet, C (slashing), 11:42.
Second Period: 2. SC, Turnbull 2 (Campbell, Oreskovic), 7:58. 3. SC, Keller 4 (Ryan, Campbell), 15:11. Penalties: Oreskovic, SC (slashing), 4:29; Flemming, SC (hooking), 11:03; Eves, C (tripping), 13:31; Luciani, C (interference), 15:29.
Third Period: 4. C, Edwards 7 (Pelech, Luciani), 4:22. 5. SC, Shelast 4 (Walters, Scherer), 15:22. 6. C, Carter 2 (Aubuin, Goulet), 18:56. Penalties: O'Brien, SC (hooking), 3:12; Flemming, SC (slashing), 4:22; Kroll, SC (delay of game), 5:44; Aubin, C (10-minute misconduct), 19:43; Pelech, C (fighting), 19:43; Oreskovic, SC (double-minor, spearing), 19:43; Stevenson, SC (fighting), 19:43.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 6-8-7-21; Cincinnati: 12-8-16-36. Penalties: Stingrays 8-19; Cincinnati 6-23. Power Play: Stingrays 1 for 4; Cincinnati 1 for 6. Goalies: Stingrays -.Billy Sauer (5-9-2) 36 shots, 34 saves. Cincinnati - Brian Foster (12-7-2) 21 shots, 17 saves. Att: 4,906.