The irresistible force just rolled over the immovable object.
The South Carolina Stingrays built a reputation as one of the elite defensive teams in the ECHL, giving up the second- fewest goals in the league this season. But the Stingrays proved to be little more than a speed bump for the Kalamazoo Wings, who led the ECHL with 264 goals.
Nick Sirota and Elgin Reid each scored two goals to lead the K-Wings past the Stingrays, 6-4, Friday night in Game 1 of the ECHL’s Eastern Conference semifinals before a crowd of 1,425 at Wings Stadium.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is at 7:30 p.m. today at Wings Stadium. The series will shift to the North Charleston Coliseum on Wednesday for Game 3.
Too many mistakes, too many blown coverages and not enough intensity led to a season-high six goals allowed by the Stingrays.
“We were not prepared to play tonight and that’s on me,” said South Carolina Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery. “We gave up way too much in our defensive zone because we might have been cheating a little bit offensively. We didn’t do the little things defensively that win hockey games.”
Not even rookie goalie Rob Madore, the hero of the first playoff series against Gwinnett, could save South Carolina.
“There are probably a couple of goals that Rob would like back, but by no means is this loss Rob’s fault,” Carbery said. “We didn’t play very well in front of him. We didn’t defend the way we should have in our zone, and Kalamazoo made us pay for every mistake we made.”
The two teams exchanged the first four goals of the game during the opening period, but it was a late goal by Trent Daavettila in the closing seconds of the first period and one late in the second period from Dustin Cloutier that gave the K-Wings a 4-2 lead.
“Both of those goals were pretty deflating,” Carbery said. “You can’t give up goals like that late in periods in the playoffs and expect to win.”
Reid put the game out of reach on back-to-back goals 24 seconds apart to make it 6-4 midway through the third period.
South Carolina forwards Billy Ryan and Michael Dorr scored late to make things interesting, but it was too little, too late as the Stingrays get ready for Game 2 tonight.
“The late goals came in garbage time when the intensity of the game had dropped. They didn’t mean much,” Carbery said. “We need to come out with more intensity and ready to play in game 2. We need to do a better job in our defensive zone and we’ve got to execute our game plan.”