When South Carolina forward Chad Painchaud scored five minutes into the second period to give the Stingrays a 4-0 lead, it looked like it was going to be an easy night for the home team.
It turned out to be anything but easy for the Stingrays.
Painchaud and Chris Langkow each had a goal and an assist as the Stingrays held on to beat Evansville, 6-5, in a shootout Saturday night before a crowd of 3,120 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Stingrays, who have yet to lose in regulation this season, improved to 9-0-2 (20 points) and are in first place in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference. The IceMen are 6-1-1 (13 points) on the season.
The Stingrays appeared to be the fresher team, getting to loose pucks and winning the one-on-one battles, despite playing in their third game in as many nights. This was only the second game in the last four days for the IceMen.
Painchaud’s second-period goal capped a four-goal outburst for the Stingrays that started midway through the first period.
As Langkow, Patrick Gaul, Andrew Cherniwchan and finally Painchaud scored, the points began piling up for the Stingrays.
“We obviously had a good start,” said Painchaud, who also scored in the shootout. “We got that early lead and maybe we got a little bit too comfortable out there. We had a lull in the second period and let Evansville back into the game.”
Evansville scored three unanswered goals — two coming in the second period from Mike Seidel and Josh Beaulieu, and then one by Jacob Johnston six minutes into the final period — to make it a 4-3 game.
“They threw everything they had at us in the second and third periods,” Painchaud said. “They fought hard and got back into the game.”
South Carolina’s Jordan Owens pushed the Stingrays’ advantage to 5-3 on his power-play goal with less than seven minutes left in regulation.
But the IceMen answered again with goals from Jeremy Langlois and Matt Lowry with 20 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
“The third period was back and forth,” Painchaud said. “We didn’t panic on the bench, everyone was staying positive.”
The Stingrays got shootout goals from Painchaud and Cherniwchan as goalie Adam Morrison stopped four of five shots to secure the victory.
“I think that shows the kind of character we’ve got in our locker room,” Painchaud said. “Adam had a couple of huge saves in the shootout. It’s a big two points tonight. We had that lull, got down and quickly got back up, and that shows what kind of group we’ve got. We’re not going to give up.”
Off-ice official Joe Valentino was hit in the head with a puck during the second period. Valentino received several stitches and was taken to the hospital for observation.
Evansville 0 2 3 0 0—5
Stingrays 3 1 1 0 1—6
First Period: 1 SC, Langkow 2 (Painchaud, Pallis), 6:21. 2. SC, Gaul 3 (Hagel, Boyd), 14:30. 3. SC, Cherniwchan 2 (Langkow), 16:38 (SH). Penalties: Vaughan, SC (interference), 15:17; Moon, E (hooking), 18:29; Lowry, E (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:54; Painchaud, SC (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:54.
Second Period: 4. SC, Painchaud 5 (Hagel, Langkow), 5:43. 5. E, Seidel 3 (Schepke), 8:11. 6. E, Beaulieu 2 (Larkin, Johnston), 14:17 (PP). Penalties: Spinell, SC (slashing ), 0:56; Larkin, E (tripping), 8:52; Vaughan, SC (elbowing), 12:50; Krug, E (tripping), 17:30; Lavin, E (cross-checking), 18:39.
Third Period-7. E, Johnston 1 (Kennedy, Langlois), 6:08. 8. SC, Owens 6 (Painchaud, Price), 13:55 (PP). 9. E, Langlois 1 (Sakaris, Krug), 14:51. 10. E, Lowry 5 (Langlois, Lavin), 19:40. Penalties: Spinell, SC (hooking), 10:54; Seidel, E (bench – too many men), 12:32.
OT Period: No Scoring. Penalties: No Penalties
Shootout: Evansville 1 (Langlois G, Seidel NG, Moon NG, Clarke NG, Lowry NG), South Carolina 2 (Owens NG, Hagel NG, Painchaud G, Cherniwchan G, Boyd NG).
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 16-13-8-4-1-42; Evansville: 11-13-14-4-0-42. Penalties: Stingrays 5-10; Evansville 6-12. Power Play: Stingrays 1 for 5; Evansville 1 for 4. Goalies: Stingrays – Adam Morrison (2-0-0) 42 shots, 37 saves. Evansville – Mike Clemente (6-0-2) 42 shots, 37 saves. Att: 3,120.